BT announced today the launch of BT Parental Controls, its network-based filter to help protect children online, covering all internet connected devices in the home.
BT has offered free parental controls to its customers for years, but the protection focused on desktop computers and laptops. The new controls cover any internet enabled device using home broadband, from PCs, laptops and games consoles to tablets and smartphones. The filter will still be free to all customers.
New customers will have to make a choice on whether or not to activate the parental controls when setting up their internet connection for the first time. The option of having the controls implemented is pre-selected and customers have to confirm that choice or actively choose not to switch on the controls which block content potentially unsuitable for children.
BT will be contacting all of its existing Consumer customers during 2014 so that they then have to make a decision on whether or not to set up the controls.
The new controls have been tested in trials with a variety of different customers and help from interested groups, such as Mumsnet, the UK’s biggest network for parents.
There will be three set filter levels – strict, moderate and light - which can be customised to suit each individual family’s needs. Additional websites can be added to the list to be allowed or blocked.
The filter can be turned off at specific times, for example to act as a “watershed” and it can also be set to an additional level, “homework time” – for extra peace of mind when children are doing their homework.
To guard against unauthorised changing of BT Parental Controls, the account holder’s credentials are required to set up and change any of the settings (filter levels, filter times, switching on and off and adding or removing blocked or allowed sites). For additional peace of mind, each change results in a confirmation email being sent to the adult account holder to advise them of the change.
Pete Oliver, MD Consumer Commercial Marketing and Digital, said: “BT takes the issue of online child protection extremely seriously and we are very pleased to be able to launch the whole-home filter to help parents keep their families safe online. It adds to the many tools we already make available for free to our customers. We’ve been focused on the issue of online safety since we developed the world’s first Cleanfeed filter to block child abuse images and made the technology available free to other ISPs across the world a decade ago.”
While filtering is an important tool, raising awareness of the need to protect children online and providing education on how to do so is crucial. BT, along with other major ISPs have set-up a pan-ISP marketing campaign, Internet Matters: Learn about it. Talk about it. Deal with it, to increase awareness and education around online safety for children. BT is committing £1.5 million directly to a joint marketing fund with other ISPs, but is also providing more than £7.8 million worth of its own marketing activity and development spend next year alone.