Last year, I blogged about our reaction to the Government’s Bailey Review into the commercialisation of children, and specifically that we welcomed the recommendation that parents should be offered an ‘active choice’ about whether to use parental controls. We committed to implementing this for all new customers by October 2012 and today I am really pleased to reveal that we will be the first ISP to implement this.
By the end of February, new customers who join TalkTalk will be asked upfront in the sales process if they wish to activate HomeSafe, our award-winning network level parental controls service, to help them control access to the types of content their children can access online.
HomeSafe is available free to all TalkTalk customers and helps parents to protect their children from access to certain types of content such as pornography, gambling and suicide and self-harm sites. Because it’s built into our network, it protects every device using the broadband connection – be it a laptop, iPod Touch or Nintendo Wii. This is especially important now that children are regularly using a range of devices to go online, which was also highlighted in the Bailey Review. We spent a significant amount of time testing it with parents to make it as simple as possible to use – in fact, it takes just a few clicks and less than a minute to set it up by logging into My Account and customers can amend their settings at any time.
While no technical solution alone can solve the issue of internet safety, we feel that it is our duty as an ISP to provide our customers with simple and effective tools like HomeSafe. Our announcement today has been welcomed by Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, Children’s Minister Tim Loughton and Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone as an important step in protecting children online. Tim Loughton said “It’s fantastic news that TalkTalk has worked so quickly to make ‘active choice’ a reality for parents. It will make it easier for their customers to protect their children from harmful or inappropriate online content from whichever device is used in the home, be it a laptop, games console or Internet enabled TV. I look forward to seeing more internet service providers offering this help to parents.”
I’ve always believed that creating a safer online environment for children is similar to car safety for children in the 1970s where everyone needs to play a part, like with the Green Cross Code, education, seat belt wearing and car seat use. As we celebrate Safer Internet Day today, I hope that by offering our customers an upfront choice about activating HomeSafe they will realise there is a wealth of support available to them as they navigate the online world with their children.