Thursday, 31 October 2013

Free For All?

Infringing Sites Can Be Reached through UK Public Wi-Fi

More than half of public Wi-Fi networks in the country fail to filter porn content, while hotels don’t even ask for user’s age. 1/3 of the cafes and restaurants lack safety filters to prevent kids from viewing adult content, with 20% failing to restrict customer access to virtual sex dating websites.
The recent research examined about 200 locations in major UK cities, including cafes, restaurants, shops, hotels and public spaces. The results of the study showed that over 50% of free Wi-Fi hotspots allowed unfiltered access to pornographic material. Apparently, British parents were not happy with the results of the study. For example, over 50% of cafes and restaurants don’t filter access to Internet stores selling knives and swords. 4/5 of them also provide free access to drug-related content.

In the meantime, recently there’ve been two convergent trends: a big increase in public Wi-Fi on the one side, and greater access to smartphones and other devices with a Wi-Fi capability on the other side. This is how children can get access to all that harming content.

The researchers point out that whilst hotels are predominantly private places, where filtering may be inappropriate, such places as hotel lobbies, caf├ęs and restaurants are definitely public, so the content policy should reflect that. According to the results of the study, hotels scored the worst for filtering of pornographic material compared to cafes, restaurants, retailers and public spaces. Indeed, only 20% of hotels blocked access to adult content, and 10% filtered access to online weapons shops.

Filtering should cover not only pornography, but also content related to drugs and violence which is just as harmful but often overlooked. It turned out that publicly owned spaces had better filters in place. The researchers explain that having filters in public spaces is just as important as other restrictions – for example, the smoking ban and modesty covers on adult magazines. But simply having a filter is not enough to protect everything.

Of all the public Wi-Fi hotspots investigated throughout the country, government-owned property and public places like train stations appeared the best in filtering out adult content. 90% of government sites restricted access to porn, though 1/3 of them still allowed full access to Internet weapons stores.

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