Access to the internet is now an integral part of many people’s lives.
There are many positive aspects to life in the online world. However, just as in the offline world, the online world has its risks, including services and websites that provide access to material unsuitable for children.
As a responsible business, our customers expect Sky to deliver the products and services they want in a safe environment. That’s why, for example, we enable parents to restrict access to content and channels on the Sky set-top box using secure PIN controls, and why we offer all of our broadband customers free parental control software to install on their PCs and laptops.
To build on this, we have rolled out a major customer communications programme in the last few months to improve awareness of our online parental controls. We have also trained thousands of our customer service agents to be able to explain the benefits of parental controls. And, from October, we will present all new broadband customers with an automatic or ‘active’ choice to install parental controls when they sign up, in line with the Government-endorsed Code of Practice, which all major ISPs committed to.
However, we want to do even more to help Sky customers take control over the content accessible through their Sky services. That’s why we are announcing two innovative new initiatives which will strengthen the protection we offer customers.
First, when we launch ‘active choice’ in October, and as we ask all new Sky Broadband customers whether they wish to install parental controls, we will highlight the ‘yes’ button as the default option. This will make the process even more straightforward for those parents who wish to take advantage of the free parental tools while still allowing those customers that don’t want them to opt out. We call this ‘active choice plus’ and we will be the first broadband company in the UK to offer this to its customers.
Second, Sky’s out of home WiFi service, ‘The Cloud’, which is used by our broadband customers to connect to the internet at thousands of hotspots across Britain’s High Streets, will filter out access to adult inappropriate websites as standard from next October.
This means that those venues, shops or cafes on The Cloud network that want to protect children from viewing inappropriate material will have their WiFi filtered automatically. We believe this will give parents the peace of mind that when their children access content over Sky networks outside the home, where we can’t offer individual parental controls, they will be similarly protected as when in the home. The Cloud will be the first public WiFi operator to offer this service.
While the Government is currently asking some important questions about how internet services and devices can provide parents with the best safeguards to protect children from inappropriate content, technology doesn’t stand still and we cannot either. We will keep working to find the best ways to ensure parents have the information and tools they need to protect their families and will continue to explore the opportunities presented by new technology to offer even greater parental controls in the future.