Sky have announced they are automatically turning on internet filters that block dating sites, if customers have not chosen their filter preference.
While all new Sky customers were asked to set their filter level, those who ignored the prompts will soon see their strict filter turned on.
This strict filter lists dating as a “high risk” category alongside “weapon and extreme violence, pornography and sites about suicide, self-harm and developing criminal skill”.
Such ISP filters have been live since December 2013 in the UK, with BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media agreeing to implement the measures.
David Cameron announced this change on 22nd July 2013, following a campaign to keep children safe from harmful internet material.
The move meant new customers had an “unavoidable choice” whether to activate the parental filters.
Most of the ISPs gave users a variation on three choices – light, moderate and strict.
Dating was included in the strict filter by BT, and was blocked on Sky’s PG and 13 option.
In these options, dating sat alongside “Pornography”, “Weapons and Violence”, “Phishing and Malware” and “Drugs”.
However an Ofcom report last July showed that UK consumers had roundly rejected the filters, with an average of 13% turning them on.
But the latest move by Sky makes the filters automatically activated, if users have ignored the prompts to choose their settings.
The Online Dating Association has challenged ISPs to differentiate between dating services and the unacceptable content they are currently being grouped with.
The chief executive of the ODA, George Kidd, said:
“Sticking dating in the wrong category alongside very different and worrying and offensive content risks having unintended effects that could undermine this effort to protect household and children in particular.
“With millions of people registered with dating services — including many single parents – there is the likelihood that users will remove the controls when they find they stop access to a dating site thereby re-exposing others in a household to the drugs, porn and other content the ISPs set out to prevent.”
On their site, the ODA have given instructions for dating consumers on how to deactivate the filters, should they find a dating site blocked.