An official government response to a Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) study into online filtering has agreed that while it can be useful it is not as good as it could be.
The government response follows a DCMS report from March that looked at child safety online and the means of shutting off child abuse and similar illegal content.
The government said that a lot of work has been done in this area and that a lot of it is successful, however it added that filtering itself is not as accurate as it could be and exists within a system that needs work.
“We welcome the [Culture, Media and Sport] Committee’s acknowledgement that content regulation of the internet could give rise to unintended consequences such as stifling the free flow of ideas and expression that lies at the heart of the development of the internet,” said the government in its response.
“The government agrees with the Committee that site blocking, while entirely appropriate when it comes to illegal child abuse content, is unlikely to be a suitable approach to restricting access to legal material on the internet.
“Rather, we believe that the development and implementation of measures that help parents keep their children safe online, such as the free and easy to use family-friendly network-level parental controls, filtered public WiFi, and raising parents awareness of the risks that exist online is a more effective approach to minimising children’s access to such content.”
This week the Open Rights Group published a study into the impact of online filtering and found problems with one in five of the sites it looked at.
The government acknowledged such issues and suggested that blocked sites should be offered some form of redress. It added that while the big four ISPs have already done good work with their filters, other service providers will follow suit.
“We agree that other ISPs with domestic customers should consider offering parental control tools and we have been working with the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) to encourage them to do so,” it added.
“We understand a number of the other providers are currently actively working on the development of such tools and we look forward to these being rolled out over the coming year.”