ISPs may have to offer free Net filtering tools to broadband, mobile subscribers

ISPs may have to offer free Net filtering tools to broadband, mobile subscribers

SINGAPORE - Internet service providers (ISPs) may soon have to offer Internet filtering tools for free to their broadband and mobile subscribers under new rules proposed by the Media Development Authority (MDA).


Get the full story from The Straits Times.


Here is the media statement released today by MDA:

MDA looks to raise awareness and accessibility of parental controls

SINGAPORE - The Media Development Authority (MDA) has launched a public consultation on its proposed recommendations to better help parents monitor and guide their children's Internet usage. These enhancements aim to raise the awareness of parental control tools offered by local Internet Access Service Providers (IASPs) and make it easier for parents to subscribe to these services.

Current requirement

Since 2012, MDA has made it mandatory for local IASPs to inform and offer optional Internet parental control services to subscribers when they sign up or renew their residential broadband and mobile Internet subscriptions.

To complement this requirement, MDA works closely with industry and community partners to reach out to students and parents. For example, MDA plays an active role in public education by supporting the Media Literacy Council's efforts to roll out programmes to promote media literacy, cyber wellness and Internet safety among students and parents.

Proposed enhancements

MDA is considering changes in five key areas to increase the awareness and accessibility of parental control services, especially among parents with children and youths who are 16 years old and below:

1. Subscription process - Beyond informing and offering optional parental control services at the point of contract sign up or renewal, MDA is considering making it compulsory for IASPs to ask subscribers whether they wish to subscribe to such services on the spot, and to get an explicit reply, either verbally or in writing. By requiring an explicit decision, subscribers are likely to request for more information and become more familiar with the functions of parental control services.

MDA is also seeking views on whether the public would prefer an opt-out option, where parent controls are switched on by default unless instructed otherwise by the subscriber.

2. Costs - MDA is proposing for IASPs to offer subscribers some parental control functionalities for free with the subscription or renewal of Internet access packages.

The free version offered by IASPs should minimally allow parents to specify the types of content they do not want their children to access. IASPs can however, choose to offer more premium functionalities at an additional cost.

3. Technical assistance - For new and re-contracting customers, MDA is proposing for IASPs to switch on parental controls at the point of sale. IASP should also help existing customers install and activate these services. For example, they can use push notifications with step-by-step instructions or guides to help subscribers to turn on parental controls.

4. Categories of content to be filtered by default for children - MDA is proposing for "adult content" to be filtered by default when parental controls are switched on.

Parents can decide if they want to include additional content categories.

5. Network- or device-level filtering: To make these services more accessible to parents, particularly those who are less technologically-savvy, MDA is proposing that IASPs provide network-level parent controls. IASPs are free to decide if they would like to also offer device-level parent controls to subscribers.

The public consultation closes on May 9 at 5pm. Interested parties may email their feedback to policy_consultations@mda.gov.sg. Members of the public can also share their feedback in person as MDA will be conducting focus groups as part of the public consultation. Those who are keen to view the consultation paper or participate in the focus group sessions can register their interest and find out more at: http://www.mda.gov.sg/RegulationsAndLicensing/Consultation/Pages/ConsultationPapers.aspx.

 

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