Memorandum submitted by BT
1. BT is pleased to contribute to this inquiry.
This paper is based on our recent submission to the Byron Review,
since the issues raised in that Review are very similar to those
being considered by the Committee.
2. The rapid development and take up of
new technologies by all parts of society, and by people of all
ages, raises fundamental questions, including some concerning
the extent to which people need to be educated in the ways of
protecting themselves in the electronic world we all now inhabit.
3. The inquiry is looking at issues involving
legal content, where judgments which can be made about the potential
of material to harm or be characterised as inappropriate are individual,
personal and dependent on context. It is entirely legitimate for
people to make and reach different judgments, and within a household
for judgments to vary between adults, and between adults and young
people and children. Decisions on supervision levels and how to
reconcile differences in views within households are for individuals
4. Such issues and how to deal with them
are not specific to new technologies: they are equally issues
in the off-line, traditional world of paper publications, radio
and television broadcasting, video, CD, DVD, etc. It is important
to avoid fundamentally different principles being adopted in relation
to "new technologies". As with the off-line, traditional
world, care is needed in the nature of interventions by outside
parties (including Government or suppliers of services) to ensure
that they are not over-intrusive, do not provide the means for
individuals to abdicate their responsibilities, and do not substitute
the judgments of those intervening for those of consumers.
as a provider of networks and services
5. BT is a communications provider. It develops
and deals with new technologies. It has a long-standing commitment
to, and involvement in, societal issues related to communications,
Corporate Social Responsibility, education and inclusiveness.
6. In the context of this Review, BT provides:
fixed Internet serviceswhere
its role is primarily as a provider of the means for communications
to take place, but not determining the content going through its
BT is not a Mobile Network Operator and does not, therefore, control
access to the Internet via mobile networks; and
Wireless cities, BT Openzone, BT FONwhich allow Internet
access from non-fixed locations.
7. As further background to the Review and
the industry it affects, it is important to understand that:
there are many players involvedhardware/device
manufacturers and vendors; software producers and vendors; content
producers and vendors;
there is usually no-end-to-end
usage of just a single network, such as BT'sinstead there
are a host of combinations, largely determined by users' own choices;
consumers use devices to access
the Internetdevices that plug into (physically or in a
virtual sense) networks and then control the way the user sees
Internet content. The choice of devices is almost endless, with
a range of different capabilities, and in a highly innovative
and, therefore, rapidly changing market.
as a corporate citizen:
8. BT has taken a leading role in providing
opportunities to all through its network and products and through
its work with the educational and voluntary sectors. We believe
that information and communications technology can improve people's
lives and open doors to education, jobs, entertainment and friendship.
However, people need to have access to the Internet and a computer,
and then the skills and confidence to use them if they are to
reap the rewards available. We recognise that this can be particularly
difficult for young people, the elderly and for people with disabilities.
9. We are engaged in many initiatives to
help people gain the access and skills they need. For example,
we are supporting EverybodyOnline, a project designed to
help disadvantaged communities get online. EverybodyOnline
has a network of public Internet access points around the UK that
give local people the chance to try out new technology and learn
how to use computers and the Internet. We have been making technology
accessible to those with disabilities, through our Age and Disability
Action unit for many years. We are the first major UK company
to provide a British Sign Language section on our website.
10. The inquiry complements but does not
deal with aspects of online safety that are subject to the criminal
law. In relation to the broader picture on online safety, BT continues
to engage with various initiatives reaching across Government,
NGOs and industry, and with its own customers, to understand and
play its part in addressing concerns. BT has led the way in trying
to deal with online child pornography, through its Child Abuse
Initiative ("Cleanfeed") project, which deters access
to sites identified by the Internet Watch Foundation as illegal.
11. Others will no doubt provide a wealth
of input on the issue of benefits to individuals, families, society
and the economy from the use of new technologies. Even without
empirical evidence, it is obvious that new technology provides
new ways of doing things better and faster than before, across
a range of social, education and work-related uses. Amongst many
benefits, these provide enriched opportunities for people to learn
and to develop, they offer ways for geographically separated friends
and families to stay in touch, and they make it easier for people
to research, analyse and distribute the fruits of their work.
12. For the future success of the UK economy
and, therefore, for society as a whole, it is imperative that
the UK is ready for global competition in the 21st centurywhich
will be between and within knowledge economies. A knowledge economy
requires world-class education, an environment that encourages
entrepreneurialism, and a competitive cost base. The UK has to
work at being world-class in all of thesewe cannot presume
to automatic leadership in any area, and the competitive challenge
is increasingly coming from Asia.
13. The next generation of global competition
will, therefore, have a profound impact upon the competitiveness
of the UK. Tough choices must be made in the fields of education,
innovation and productivity to take advantage of the major economic
changes which lie ahead. Broadband networks, fixed and wireless,
are changing the nature of the economy, the way we do business,
the way we learn, and the way we use our leisure time. Increasingly,
businesses will outsource activities across the worldthis
means skilled, financial and intellectual jobs. The UK needs to
develop high-value skilled jobs and people to avoid the whole
value chain being outsourced.
14. Safe usage of the Internet is the subject
of many initiatives recognising, in the case of children, that
they are less experienced in the ways of the world and may have
a propensity to divulge more information about themselves to strangers
than they ought. This, of course, is an issue much wider than
just in the online environment.
15. BT provides comprehensive parental control
protection to all its narrowband and broadband customers, as well
as anti-virus and firewall products. The parental controls are
provided by Yahoo! and enable parents to block websites
considered to be unsuitable, restrict the number of hours and
the times of the day that children access the Internet. The service
has a Kids, Teens and Mature Teens setting to enable parents to
protect their children. Each child's setting can be personalised
with more or less protection as required.
16. These parental controls also protect
against Instant Messaging (IM) abuse by blocking IM altogether,
or restricting contact to friends only (approved by the parent),
blocking webcams, file transfer, voice communications, chat rooms
and multi way conferencing.
17. Parental controls also protect email
usage by blocking use completely, restricting contact to just
those in the approved address book and blocking attachments. The
service can also block access to chat and group services and to
community services provided by BT such as BT Yahoo! Answers (where
people can post questions or answers).
18. There is wide choice of parental control
software available for computers, allowing content to be filtered
for children. There are new devices appearing that are able to
connect to the Internet in the home (often using WiFi), some of
which come with parental controls and some of which do not. More
device manufacturers are likely to include parental controls as
standard and we anticipate that software companies offering parental
controls will expand their product offerings to cover these new
devices as they become more popular.
19. As part of the BT Total Broadband product
the majority of customers are provided with a wireless (WiFi)
router, which allows customers a flexible way of connecting their
computer to the Internet rather than relying on a fixed wired
connection. All of the BT routers provided to customers have the
security switched on automatically, which means that the customer
has to use a password provided to them to gain access to the Internet
connection. BT Yahoo! Parental controls work on a customer's computer
regardless of whether a wired or a WiFi connection to the Internet
20. BT also provides customers the opportunity
to gain access to the Internet using BT FON and BT Openzone WiFi
hotspots while out and about. Yahoo parental controls will work
on the customer's laptop if it is used in a WiFi hotspot. To access
the Internet the customer also needs their user name and password.
21. Internet security is both a product
issue and a consumer concern. Amongst other things, consumers
understand the risks and safeguards
ensure firewall, anti-virus
and anti-spyware software are installed;
keep these protections up to
keep their computer operating
systems up to date;
protect personal and financial
set up parental controls where
children are computer users, and move the computer to a family
22. To supplement the actions consumers
should be taking themselves, ISPs can take additional measures
on their behalf. For example, BT uses a spam detection system
called "Spam Buster", which not only tracks down "professional"
spam emanating from the BT network but also protects individual
PCs against being hijacked to produce more spam.
23. BT is committed to providing the best
possible protection for its customers and not only offers a range
of protection in the network but also a wide range of security
features as part of the email, narrowband and broadband ISP service
to UK consumers. See Annex 1 for a description of these, which
are in addition to the child protection measures covered in the
24. It is sometimes said that the uptake
of parental controls is low. It is worth noting that less than
one third of UK households have dependent children, so any take
up figures need to reflect that two thirds of households do not
have dependent children (source ONS May 03). Having said this,
we estimate that 42% of our broadband customers that have children
aged between 5 and 15 have set up BT Yahoo! parental controls.
In addition to this, some parents are likely to have taken other
measures or installed software other than BT's.
25. In a recent GFK survey, parents had
taken the following steps to protect their children on-line: (base
502 parents with children aged six to 16):
83% had installed anti virus
69% of parents said that their
PC is in a public room;
58% said that they supervised
their children's Internet usage;
37% had implemented password
29% had installed parental controls
from their ISP;
27% are using content control
only 1% of customers stated
that they had taken no steps.
26. Despite all of this, no set of "technical"
protection measures can ever provide complete protectionthe
"technical" aspect is just one element of the equation.
All vulnerable people and children will require education, guidance
of a responsible adult and an understanding of what to do in threatening
What, if anything, could be changed in order to
help people manage the potential or actual risks of going online?
27. It is in the interests of all in this
industry to help and educate customers to ensure they and their
families have a safe and enjoyable experience when using the Internet.
We are always looking to improve the control we can give to customers.
The Internet and computers are part of our daily lives. Introducing
children safely to the Internet allows them to build confidence
and skills from an early age.
28. We believe that any initiative to improve
on-line safety needs to cover three main aspects:
supervision or location of the PC;
bullying, viruses and not giving personal information; and
technical issuesto filter
content and limit usage.
29. All three aspects have to be addressed
in combination to make effective progress and the combination
will need to vary according to the age of the usersupervision
will be most important for very young children, whereas content
filtering is likely to be more relevant for older children and
30. We believe that device based controls
offer the best solution to filtering content. An Internet connection
into a home is often used by multiple computers and by multiple
family members. Customers want to be able to offer different levels
of filtering to different family members. With device based controls,
parents can set a level of protection for each child and can modify
these over time. Device controls also protect children when they
are mobile if they use a laptop in other locations.
31. A large number of software suppliers
specialise in providing software to protect customers and their
children while on the Internet. There are many packages available;
education is needed to help customers use the tools available
32. Many websites provide information for
parents and children. For example:
33. All appear to provide good advice for
parents on the various actions they need to take, but they all
take a slightly different approach. What is missing is an overall
campaign that pulls all of the initiatives together.
34. We would support an industry wide agreement
to use common, non-jargon language to describe and communicate
the risks and potential mitigation for customers.
35. We believe that all users, particularly
parents and children, need to be better educated about the potential
risks arising from using new technologies, so that they can gain
the benefits of what is available to them and minimise the risks
involved. We would support a campaign to raise this important
issue. To be effective it needs to have simple messages for all
users, although the major target group might be parents and children,
and should be backed by Government, schools, parents, police,
teachers and experts. The same message should be supported with
a website, leaflets, posters etc so that it is consistently seen
36. A combination of Government-backed education,
together with continuing self-regulatory initiatives from industry,
seems to us to be the most helpful approach in this area.
37. There is no single solution to the issue
of online safety. However, a combination of education and technical
solutions will provide an environment in which a balanced approach
to protection is developed. It is important for all users to maintain
a sensible approach to using the technology, recognising the potential
pitfalls and managing them in ways that do not have an adverse
impact on the enormous learning and inspirational capacity of
38. We would be pleased to engage in any
industry wide initiatives which might help to get across even
better the messages, information and education we have provided
to date. This might include developing improved general terms
to describe and communicate the risks and potential solutions
for customers, which are jargon-free.
39. In broader terms, BT is already playing
its part in industry discussion facilitated by the Broadband Stakeholders
Group's Content Information Group to develop a "Good Practice
Framework". It provides information which aims to let customers
know what we try to do to help them identify the suitability of
material for their households and individuals within it.
PROTECTION FOR BT'S CONSUMER ISP CUSTOMERS
1. BT is committed to providing the best
possible protection for its customers and to do this BT not only
offers a range of protection in the network but also a wide range
of security features provided as part of the email, narrowband
and broadband ISP service to UK consumers.
2. BT has partnered with Yahoo! to provide
industry leading email protection. There are four areas of email
protection that BT provides, and these are all included in the
standard price of our service.
3. Volumes of spam traffic have continued
to rise globally and all email customers are at risk of having
their email address abused by spammers. Spammers can use computers
to guess email addresses (dictionary attacks) and can acquire
lists from many sources. Once a spammer has your email address
then you will receive large amounts of unwanted emails. To protect
BT's customers, BT uses Yahoo! SpamGuard Plus service which filters
incoming emails as soon as they arrive at our mail servers. If
the email is from a known spammer it is deleted immediately, if
the filter thinks it is spam it will deliver it into the customer's
spam folder (removing any graphical images first) and auto-delete
it after 60 days. This is to enable the customer to check that
genuine email has not been sent there by error. The Spam protection
also includes the ability for a user to vote on incoming email
as either "This is Spam" or "This is not Spam".
This personalisation makes the service more effective than other
spam filtering services that have no customer interaction. Often
what the system considers to be spam may not be spam and vice-versa.
This personalisation after a short time ensures that genuine email
for each user is detected and spam is blocked.
AddressGuard (Disposable Email Accounts)
4. BT provides each email account with up
to 500 disposable email addresses in a service called AddressGuard.
Spam abuse is often caused by consumers leaving their email address
at sites that may misuse this data. AddressGuard solves this problem
by providing the user with an email address for each site they
leave their email address. This means that they can protect their
true email address to trusted friends and family but provide a
disposable email address to a company on the Internet. BT routes
the incoming email from up to 500 disposable addresses into the
customer's email account. The untrusted source doesn't know the
customer's true email address and the customer only has to check
their one email account. If one or more of these emails starts
receiving spam the user can delete their disposable email address
and their main email address remains protected.
5. Phishing attacks are the next generation
of spam and trick customers into thinking that the email they
get is from a trusted source (eg a bank or building society).
The customer clicks through to a website that is made to look
like the bank's and then discloses personal information that can
be used to access the customer bank account and empty the contents.
BT email uses MarkMonitor, a leading company in real time phishing
protection, to filter out phishing emails in exactly the same
way as we filter out Spam.
6. BT email has Symantec Norton anti-virus
protection to ensure that all incoming and outgoing emails that
contain an attachment are scanned for viruses. If viruses can
be fixed the email can continue but if the virus can't be fixed
it is blocked and the originator is warned that they have a virus.
7. BT provides Symantec Norton Antivirus
and Norton Personal Firewall to all BT Total Broadband Option
2 and 3 customers as part of their broadband service. This service
provides market-leading anti-virus and firewall protection at
no extra cost to the customer and can run on up to 7 PCs in the
8. Customers on the entry level broadband
service, BT Total Broadband Option 1, and Narrowband customers
can purchase the same protection for £3.50 a month (BT NetProtect)
9. BT provides 1GB of Digital Vault storage
to enable anyone in the UK (whether they are a BT customer or
not) to back up their most important content into a secure online
digital vault. This service ensures that even if the PC or laptop
at home is stolen or the hard disk fails, the most important data
is backed-up. Many people copy to hard disks or CDs but these
can be lost or destroyed in a fire. BT Digital Vault also enables
users to share content with other people and to enable remote
access to their data when away from home.
10. In addition to the free service BT also
offers a premium version for £4.99 a month which includes
20GB of storage and an automated backup application for all computers
in the home.
11. Spyware and adware are malicious software
that can install themselves on your computer, they track your
surfing habits and collect personal data that is then sent back
to their creators. They can run behind the scenes on your computer,
and you might not even know that they are there.
12. BT provides Symantec's Norton SpywareScan
protection to all narrowband and broadband consumer customers
included in each product. This service monitors your PC continuously
for any spyware or adware activity and blocks it.
13. When surfing the Internet users are
often presented with pop-up advertising windows. Not only can
this be annoying but it can be offensive or might involve phishing
(trying to get personal details to then get access to bank accounts
etc). BT provide pop-up ad blocking protection at no extra cost
for all narrowband and broadband customers. The service looks
for pop-ups and blocks them before the customer can see them.