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TalkTalk online security system attracts few takers

Midnight_Caller
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Registered: 15-04-2007

TalkTalk online security system attracts few takers

Hi All
Just seen this:
[quote="The Guardian"]
TalkTalk online security system attracts few takers
HomeSafe faces concerns over privacy and claims about the ease with which the technology might be bypassed
The number of people signing up to a "ground-breaking" new service to block children from accessing self-harm and pornography websites has slumped amid criticisms that it fails to achieve its aims, could breach privacy and employs technology connected to the Chinese military.
TalkTalk, the telecoms provider spun out of retailer Carphone Warehouse, launched its free HomeSafe service to its 4 million internet subscribers in May, but the product has only attracted "around 200,000" users despite signing up "more than 100,000" in its first two months.

The slowing take-up follows HomeSafe featuring prominently in TalkTalk's recent advertising campaign which attempted to attract customers by plugging "the UK's safest broadband". It also comes as online suicide and self-harm websites remain in the news after Joanne Lee and Stephen Lumb were discovered in a fume-filled car last year, hours after meeting online and agreeing a suicide pact.
Some technology blogs and websites have raised concerns that HomeSafe might be easily bypassed by dubious websites, while also querying whether the product could introduce worries about privacy.
On his blog, Dr Richard Clayton, a computer scientist at the University of Cambridge, wrote: "I doubt that malware distributors will see this [HomeSafe] as much of a challenge". On privacy he added: "The system is described as 'opt in', [but] that only applies to whether or not websites you visit might be blocked. What is not "opt in" is whether or not TalkTalk learns the details of the URLs [websites] that all of their customers visit, whether they have opted in or not."
Similar criticisms about the system's effectiveness and privacy have been aired by internet privacy campaigners Open Rights Group,  as well as technology websites such as theinquirer.net and hotlaptop.co.uk. It is not clear whether those criticisms have had an effect on the numbers of customers signing up.
A TalkTalk spokesman said: "If there are two guys in Ukraine constantly setting up new sites, we can't guarantee that they won't succeed [in bypassing HomeSafe]." Asked about the numbers using the system, he said: "We have not given ourselves targets. We are relaxed about the numbers we hit and when. It is the type of service you learn about through word of mouth at the school gates. Do we expect more people to use it next year? Yes we do."
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