UK Divided Over Right To Online Anonymity And ‘Default On’ Filtering

A survey carried out by the independent broadband news site, thinkbroadband.com has revealed that 27 per cent of Brits believe web users should have the unreserved right to remain anonymous online. The findings are part of thinkbroadband.com’s ‘Big Broadband Survey’ which revealed more than 7,000 users’ online habits and opinions.

Survey of over 7,000 respondents reveals that:

Anonymity:

– 27 per cent believe anonymity is an important part of democratic society
– 49 per cent support anonymity online but believe all users should have to register with a third party holding their details in case of abuse.

Network Level Filtering:

– 78 per cent believe free network-level filtering must be available to consumers
– 38 per cent support the Government’s plan for ‘default on’ network-level filtering
– 40 per cent support the requirement for free network-level filtering but believe it should be “disabled by default”

Parental Knowledge:

– 61 per cent believe the average parent doesn’t have enough information, knowledge and support to keep their children safe online
– Only 17 per cent of respondents believe parents are adequately equipped to protect their children online

Another 49 per cent of respondents believe that as a compromise, a third party should hold the user’s details in case of abuse online, but that it’s acceptable for users to publicly withdraw their identities.

Sebastien Lahtinen, co-founder of thinkbroadband.com comments, “The issue of online anonymity is a complex one. The Internet has empowered many users by providing them with a platform to share views openly without fear of retribution or judgment, but we also see people making hurtful comments online that they would never consider making offline, in the expectation that their comments would never be attributed to them. Recent trials around abusive tweets have shown that anonymous comments online can cause very real damage offline.”

The survey revealed an overwhelming support (78 per cent) for broadband providers being required to offer free network-level adult content filtering. Of these, there is an almost even split of respondents supporting and opposing the government-backed ‘default on’ policy, where broadband subscribers must opt out if they wish to have unfiltered access.

Worryingly, the research shows that although adults understand the dangers youngsters may encounter online, a staggering 61 per cent of respondents strongly believe that the average parent simply doesn’t have enough information, knowledge and support to keep their children safe online. Fewer than 1 in 5 believed parents were appropriately equipped.

Overall, Brits believe that the responsibility for protecting children online is shared between parents (99 per cent), school (99 per cent), government (80 per cent) and broadband providers (78 per cent) with parents accepting they hold primary responsibility. Given the ways in which children can disable Internet filters, this is important as it means parents understand the need to talk to their children about the possible dangers that lurk online so they can improve their online skills and better equip themselves should an incident arise, rather than relying on technical filters implemented by broadband providers.

“In order to maintain the right to anonymity online whilst protecting users from online abuse, the role of website operators and social media companies in particular is likely to be under close scrutiny. The Safer Internet Day initiative is a key part of ensuring everyone is aware of the tools available to them to protect both themselves and their children online and pushes the issue higher up the policy agenda.” concludes Lahtinen.

For further independent UK broadband information, please visit: http://www.thinkbroadband.com/

About thinkbroadband.com:

Thinkbroadband.com is the longest running independent UK broadband information website and has been running over ten years. It started in the days when broadband services were bring trialled and its staff thus have some of the most comprehensive experience in this area. Consumers can refer to this impartial website for independent advice and details on the services offered by Broadband Service Providers, enabling them to make an informed decision as to who to use as a supplier as well as troubleshoot problems they may be having.

 

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