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In July 2013, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) agreed to voluntarily offer “default-on” adult content internet filters on all new and existing home network customers. Ofcom has reviewed the implementation of the network filtering which it expects to be completed by the end of 2014. This note summarises the background to these decisions, reviews its implementation and sets out some of the arguments of opposed to the introduction of default on network filters.

In a July 2013 speech, the Prime Minister announced a series of agreements the Government had secured with mobile operators, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and public wi-fi operators that put adult content filters on mobile phones, public wi-fi networks and home networks. The four main ISPs have begun offering these filters to all new customers and existing customers should also be offered the choice of installing a filter by the end of 2014.

The Government has asked Ofcom – the industry regulator – to assess and review the progress of ISPs implementing the agreed actions. In January 2014, Ofcom published their first report examining internet safety measures, Strategies of parental protection for children online. In July 2014 Ofcom published their second report, Internet Service Providers: Network level filtering measures. This report outlined that the four main ISPs had all introduced family friendly network level filtering to new customers and are now engaged in rolling out the offer of family friendly network level filtering to reach existing customers, with a view to completing this process by the end of 2014. The third report is due out early in 2015.

There is some opposition to the Government’s proposals and ISP activities regarding filtering, in particular from the Open Rights Group, who maintain that the introduction of internet filters, whilst well intentioned, may block many sites that are not harmful to children.

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