Sky recently moved to make the decision to set parental controls on for their existing customers who have not already made a decision over whether to use them or not and now TalkTalk are going to introduce a 'pop-up' box that will present customers with an unavoidable decision to make about whether to enable one of the control options or turn the parental controls off.
TalkTalk has been running its network based parental controls the longest of all the major providers and therefore probably has the least number of customers who have not already made a choice one way or another. The pop-up will only appear if you visit a site that would have been blocked by the filtering system, but it is not clear if you can dismiss it and carry on using child friendly sites, the ability to have access to a limited number of sites is important because the account holder with the login to authorise the control changes may not be at home.
While the Daily Mail and other media outlets are focusing on the blocking of porn, the parental control systems can block other forms of content, from online gaming, gambling, social media, file sharing sites and nuancing this in a family household may be challenging, even if it is possible to set different time zones. One snippet not mentioned in the TalkTalk blog is that customers will be asked to confirm their choice of settings every 12 months.
We hope that parents do not rely solely on these controls, otherwise we may see a generation that grows up to be 18 with limited abilities to cope with the sudden onslaught of full Internet when they leave home. For Internet providers they need to ensure that they are emphasising that while the controls are a useful tool for parents, they are not guaranteed to block all unsavoury content.