In David Cameron’s speech towards the end of July, the Prime Minster raised the debate around child safety on the internet, calling for new measures to tackle child abuse, remove ‘disgusting’ images and to stop young people from viewing pornography online.

The news comes at a time when millions of young people will be spending their summer holidays surfing the internet over free public WiFi, connecting with friends and family and sharing their experiences online.

At O2, we understand free WiFi is fast becoming a right, not a privilege. Our O2 Wifi service offers over 9,000 free hotspots across the UK, available to anyone, regardless of network. That means there’s even more opportunity to get free internet access at your local café, retailer or entertainment venue.

With this accessibility come the dangers highlighted in Cameron’s speech, and the need for better safety measures to protect children when using free public WiFi in the UK.

Something we take incredibly seriously.

As the UK’s fastest growing WiFi operator, we’ve worked hard to put the following strict controls in place to prevent users from accessing adult content:

• We’re a partner of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and implement its list across our whole mobile and WiFi network. The IWF screen the very worst of the Internet by combating child sexual abuse content.

• We use advanced web filtering software designed and optimized for controlling what content is permitted to a reader. Our advanced filtering is always switched on (it can’t be switched off) across all our hotspots. Categories are used to screen certain content to ensure no inappropriate content is available to under age users or in family friendly environments.

• We use Safe Search across all our hotspots, provided by search engines to block sexually explicit content from being displayed within search results. Safe Search is always switched on across our estate. Whilst web filtering is effective at blocking the actual content, search engines can still show results and content by picking out pieces of the blocked website.

• We also use independent and expert bodies as a third party reference point to ensure what we filter is reasonable. It’s a code of practice designed to help self-regulation on available content on mobile phones.

Child protection online is core to our business at O2, from the way we structure our WiFi service, to the way we educate our customers and communities through colleagues in store, over the phone and our dedicated online child protection team. We believe the measures we have in place provide a blueprint on how to deliver a WiFi service which has industry leading controls to protect users from inappropriate content.

As Cameron stated, this is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence. But we must all be more active, more aware, and more responsible about what happens online – which includes government, parents, internet providers and platforms, educators and charities.

Only by working together will we really provide a solution to the problem. For more information about protecting your children online, click HERE.

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on: 01753 565656
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