- See Online age verification for proposals to enforce age verification on sites
Adult content filtering regulation may be proposed in the UK requiring ISPs to block access to adult content unless a subscriber specifically opts-out of such filtering. For existing practice see Content filtering by UK ISPs.
- 1 Existing service regulation
- 2 Reports and consultations
- 3 Voluntary network-level filtering
- 4 Parliament
- 5 Proposed legislation
- 6 EU legal status
- 7 Conservative campaign
- 8 Media
- 9 See also
- 10 References
Existing service regulation
Video-on-demand, including UK-based internet services, are jointly regulated by ATVOD and Ofcom under the power of the Communications Act 2003 since 2010. They have enforcement actions against several providers of adult content including "Playboy TV" and "Strictly Broadband".
Reports and consultations
Bailey Report 2011
Claire Perry Report 2012
On April 18 2012, Claire Perry MP released her Independent Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection report recommending network-level filtering.  
Department for Education consultation 2012
Parental internet controls consultation, 2012-06-28 - 2012-09-06
- Parental internet controls (page deleted in September 2012)
- Privacy blunder shuts online pornography consultation, Telegraph, 2012-06-29
Public consultation responses
- Open Rights Group response
- UKIE response
- ISPA response (.doc)
- End Violence against Women Coalition response (.docx)
- Children in Scotland response
- Caritas Social Action Network response
- Family and Parenting Institute response
- Mother's Union response (.doc)
- Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals response
- Imkaan (charity) response
- Various responses requested via Freedom of Information Act (Virgin Media, BT, TalkTalk and Vodafone)
- The Government’s Response to the Consultation on Parental Internet Controls (published 2012-12-17)
- BBC - Internet porn: Automatic block rejected (published 2012-12-15)
- Guardian - Ministers step back from online pornography legislation (published 2012-12-14)
- Sunday Times - Why dodge a neat solution to online porn? (published 2012-12-16)
- Sunday Times - Public wi-fi to switch off porn (published 2012-12-16)
- Independent - Ministers reject automatic web porn filter (published 2012-12-15)
- Telegraph - David Cameron rejects automatic block on porn to protect children (published 2012-12-14)
- Daily Mail - Online porn, the fight MUST go on: Furious charities hit out after ministers refuse to order an automatic block on internet filth (published 2012-12-16)
- Daily Mail - Parents 'betrayed' on porn as ministers reject call for opt-in for online access (published 2012-12-14)
- Daily Mail - Harriet Harman: Children pore over sexual images as their parents watch Downton in the next room... yet ministers do nothing (published 2012-12-15)
- Daily Mail - They say they are the most family friendly government ever. So why such cowardice on internet porn? (published 2012-12-16)
Daily Mail announcement
- Further changes announced to government policy via the Daily Mail; Claire Perry MP appointed as adviser to David Cameron 
Voluntary network-level filtering
The four largest UK ISPs agreed to voluntarily introduce network level adult content filtering by the end of 2013.
- TalkTalk already had its TalkTalk HomeSafe offering in place
- Sky introduced Sky Broadband Shield in November 2013
- BT introduced BT Parental Controls in December 2013
- Virgin Media expected to introduced Web Safe in February 2014
A government response to a petition (which incorrectly referred to legislation, rather that the back room deal) said:
- The Government is aware of concerns that filters may lead to over-blocking. A UK Council for Child Internet Safety working group will look at this issue specifically and will report back to the Ministerial chairs. If a consumer or a website owner feels that a site has been wrongly or unfairly blocked, they can seek redress directly with the relevant internet service provider (ISP).
An online campaign, Internet Matters, was jointly launched by the four ISPs in May 2014.
Ofcom report on internet safety measures
- Ofcom Strategies of parental protection for children online, 2014-01-15
- Internet Service Providers: Network level filtering measures, 2014-07-22
- A third report will be published in early 2015
News coverage of the second report focused around the seemingly low take-up of adult filtering. Take up of the filters for new customers were BT 5%, Sky 8%, Virgin 4% and TalkTalk 36%. (The report details various caveats for discrepancies, TalkTalk for example uses a default-on approach to filtering.)
An Ofcom report published in 2019 found that
- Among parents of 5-15s who are aware of content filters, half say they opt not to use them because they prefer to use other mediation strategies (like supervision, having rules or talking to their child) or because they trust their child to be sensible (48%).
2012-07-02, Stephen Phillips MP
- To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport what steps his Department is taking to improve the safety of children using the internet. 
2012-11-13, Tim Loughton MP
- To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) when he expects to announce the results of the consultation on the Opt-in Approach to harmful content on the internet; (2) when he expects to inform members of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety about the future of the Government's plans for extending active choice in the light of the consultation in respect of Opt-in. 
- [...] Through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, the Government is working with ISPs to go further and put in place systems that will actively encourage all customers to switch on parental controls if children are in the household and will be using the internet. We are also asking ISPs to put in place checks to ensure that the person setting up the parental controls is over the age of 18.
- Internet Controls, 2012-09-03
- An Online Safety Bill (private members bill) has been proposed in both the 2010/12 and 2012/13 sessions.
- The forthcoming Communications Bill has been announced by Ed Vaizey MP indicating that default-on ISP-level adult content filtering will be mandated.
- A proposed amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill (50D) was proposed by Baroness Howe of Idlicote which would have made content filtering mandatory. A division vote was 65 for and 124 against.
According to an interview with Claire Perry MP the "plan is for a filter that checks the age of the child browsing, rather than her original call for all users to opt-in to accessing adult content on their computer, which a government consultation rejected. All public wifi will have an automatic block on adult material."
This may be a mis-communication of a request that ISPs verify the age of anyone attempting to modify the "opt-in" setting on a network. ("We are also asking ISPs to put in place checks to ensure that the person setting up the parental controls is over the age of 18.") or a reference to calls for some websites (such as those with adult content) to be legally obliged to perform online age verification.
EU legal status
A leaked draft document from the European Parliament suggests that EU directives would not allow the "default on" (aka Active Choice) model of site filtering but instead require prior consent.
- d) subject to a prior explicit consent of the end-users concerned,
- (i) prevent the transmission of unsolicited communications within the meaning of Article 13 of Directive 2002/58/EC or
- (ii) implement parental control measures.
- The end-user shall be given the possibility to withdraw this consent at any time.
- There's no way to stop children viewing porn in Starbucks, Guardian (Cory Doctorow), 2012-11-13
- David Cameron 'orders new curbs on internet porn', Telegraph, 2012-11-17
- Telcos react coldly to renewed UK.gov smut-censoring push, Register, 2012-11-19
- Campaign against online porn (2010-12)
- ISPs torch UK.gov's smut-blocking master plan, The Register, 2012-04-19
- Cameron hardens stance on UK web filth block, The Register, 2012-05-24
- ISPA statement on Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection, 2012-04-18
- Victory for the Mail! Children WILL be protected from online porn after Cameron orders automatic block on sites (2012-12-19)
- New broadband users shun UK porn filters, Ofcom finds, BBC News, 2014-07-23
- Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2018, Ofcom, 2019-01-29
- Controversial UK Communications Bill White Paper Expected Later in 2013, ISPReview, 2013-01-24
- Hansard, 2014-11-26
- Consumer Rights Bill — Report (3rd Day) — 26 Nov 2014 at 20:17
- Claire Perry interview: Leaving internet on at night is as reckless as leaving the front door unlocked, Spectator, 2013-01-25
- EU's ongoing attempt to kill Net Neutrality forever, LQDN, 2015-05-20