BT have reported to the Home Office that trials of their Cleanfeed (not connected with the Cleanfeed company who offer internet filtering software, coincidentally enough) program have proved successful, and from next month they will be blocking access to child pornography sites.
The move has been applauded by children’s charities, with other internet service providers looking to adopt a similar strategy.
Internet Watch Foundation’s register of illegal sites has been around for a while to warn authorities, but technology and the fact that most of the sites are outside the UK has meant that, up until now at least, no real action has been taken.
The ban is an initiative of John Carr, internet adviser to NCH who prompted Home Office minister Paul Goggins after Carr’s successful campaign to block offending internet usenet groups. Goggins approached ISPs, including BT, for an answer.
This move from BT is sure to be a relief for many people, but at the same time poses free speech concerns: the UK is now the first Western country to impose mass censorship of the internet.
Pierre Danon, chief executive of BT Retail, said in a statement: “You are always caught between the desire to tackle child pornography and freedom of information. But I was fed up with not acting on this and always being told that it was technically impossible.”