U.K. ISPs Deny Automatic ‘Parental Control’ Rumors

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Despite rumors to the contrary, British internet service providers would like it to be known that customers will have as much access to pornography as they’ve always enjoyed.

The four largest British ISPs—British Telecom, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky—have been forced to clarify that porn-blocking parental controls will not be set as default for users nationwide after rumors started to emerge that U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron was to announce a “filtered feed” system in response to calls to shield children from sexualized imagery.

The rumors, which peaked before today’s announcement, suggested that users wishing to access porn or other adult material would have to “opt in” for a non-filtered internet.

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In a joint statement, the ISPs said that they are “pleased to have developed and agreed to a code of practice, including measures to ensure that customers are provided with an active choice as to whether to activate parental controls in the home,” adding that they “have committed to improve the way they communicate to customers, enabling parents to make simple and well-informed choices about installing and activating parental controls and other measures to protect children online.”

In practice, sources say, what this means is that new contracts will be offered in two flavors: One with parental controls, and one without. “Customers will have to choose one or the other, but we won’t be making either one the default,” said an anonymous source within one of the ISPs. In addition, two of the ISPs—BT and TalkTalk—will implement a system called HomeSafe that will record every website the user visits, and check each one for viruses, even if users haven’t signed up for the parental control option.

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Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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