TalkTalk is first ISP to launch ‘active choice’ to help parents protect families online
From February new customers will be asked if they wish to activate HomeSafe, the UK’s only network level parental control service

TalkTalk has today announced that it will be the first ISP to offer new customers an ‘active choice’ as to whether or not they wish to use parental controls. This was a key recommendation in the Government’s Bailey Review into the commercialisation of children and was welcomed by the Prime Minister.

By the end of February new customers who join TalkTalk will be asked upfront if they want to activate HomeSafe, the UK’s only network level parental control service, to help them control access to the types of content their children can access online.

Because HomeSafe is built into the broadband network itself every computer or device using the broadband connection is protected – be it laptops, PCs or gaming devices. HomeSafe allows parents to block access to a range of content, including pornography, gambling and violence. So far over 270,000 customers have activated HomeSafe and the number one category parents are choosing to block is suicide and self-harm websites.

Children’s Minister 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. Through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety we are working with industry and charities to provide tools and information to inform parents and help keep children safe online.”  

Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone said: “This is encouraging progress and a welcome example of what internet service providers can do to help safeguard young people from harmful content on the internet. Active choice should go alongside good internet safety education, and – perhaps most important of all – conversations between parents and children about what they need to know to stay safe.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Ensuring new customers make an active choice about parental controls is a good start in improving the protection for children online. It will mean new customers will have to decide whether they want parental controls on their Internet access. I look forward to continuing to work with industry to ensure children can safely enjoy the Internet.”

Dido Harding, Chief Executive of TalkTalk, said “While no technical solution alone can solve the issue of internet safety, we believe that it is our duty as an ISP to provide our customers with simple and effective tools like HomeSafe to help them protect their families online. We hope that by offering all new customers an upfront choice about activating HomeSafe they will realise there is a wealth of support available to them. 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.”

Research by TalkTalk found that despite 60 per cent of parents worrying that their child might accidentally look at inappropriate content online, nearly 40 per cent of 7 year olds and 60 per cent of 9 year olds have used the internet alone. Only 31 per cent of parents are very confident that their child is protected from online threats yet 10 per of broadband customers rely solely on their own vigilance rather than using security software.

HomeSafe is available free to all TalkTalk customers and customers can activate it – or change the settings – at any time via the online My Account service. It also enables customers to block access to websites infected with malware and restrict access to distracting websites during homework time.  TalkTalk also offer PC based parental controls through its Super Safe Boost.