UK ISP Claranet has invited religious groups and child safety experts to act as volunteer ‘Guardians’ to monitor its service, and help it set parental controls for customers.
Claranet has now launched its network-level content filtering system called Childsafe. Customers will be able to choose content filters selected by the “Guardians”.
The company announced that it was recruiting from different organisations, including an unnamed Islamic advisor, and child safety campaigner Sara Payne (the mother of child murder victim Sarah Payne).
Claranet’s website says: “this allows a parent to define with just a single click a profile of protection that has been pre-built by someone they can trust. These could be a local school body, celebrity parent, professional company, charity organization, or a religious group.”
If you’re interested in becoming a Claranet guardian you can register here.
Guardians will be asked to choose whether they think 140 categories of internet content are appropriate, and within those categories they can choose to add or remove individual websites. Caranet is using a third-party blacklist (which it hasn't identified) and the Guardians can add or remove sites to the blacklist.
Users of the Claranet service can set up their own list, or edit one of the lists created by the Guardians. They can, for example, block YouTube but allow Facebook.
The filtering applies at the network level, so you cannot adjust it as you go. It’s not going to be possible to have one set of options for a 7-year-old and another for a 12-year-old; and then turn it off when you yourself use the system.
On the upside, for customers interested in content filtering, the service working at network level ensures that technically adept children will find it harder to work around the system. It's worth noting that software filtering solutions don't work with mobile devices such as the iPad or iPod touch, which are increasingly common means of accessing the internet.
Parents should be aware that no content system can completely protect children determined to look up content. It’s quite easy for any technically adept child to get around most filters with cunning use of image searches and proxy servers. Macworld recommends keeping young children under supervision when they are using the internet.