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Government rejects automatic porn blocks

Only 35 percent of parents support the move

It has been confirmed that the government has rejected plans to automatically block internet access to pornography on all computers to prevent children from watching it. The government says the move is not widely supported.

The government was said to have made its decision last month, but its position has now been confirmed after a public consultation. It says internet service providers should instead "encourage" parents to switch on parental controls.

There were more than 3,500 responses to a ten-week consultation, and the majority did not support an automatic block on porn, which would have meant that users would have had to actively request that pornographic content be made available by their ISP.

Only 35 percent of parents who took part in the consultation supported such a move.

The government now wants ISPs to encourage parents to switch on filters which will block adult sites to children and verify the age of the person setting up the controls.

There were fears among those opposed to default blocking that non-porn sites, including those dealing with sexual health and sexual identity, could be inadvertently blocked by filters.

BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Sky have already signed up to a code of practice to offer customers a choice of whether to apply filters.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, which is opposed to default filtering, said of the government's decision, "This is a positive step that strikes the right balance between child safety and parental responsibility without infringing on civil liberties and freedom of speech."

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