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'Taken aback by scale of problem'

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BT has blocked almost 250,000 attempts to access websites containing images of child abuse in just three weeks.

On 21 June, the UK's incumbent telco turned on Cleanfeed, a censorsware system which blocks access to several thousand websites on a blacklist compiled by UK Internet trade body, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). Sites on the list contain images of child sexual abuse, which are illegal to view in the UK, under the 1978 Child Protection Act.

In the three weeks from June 21 to July 13 BT blocked 230,000 attempts to access illegal sites. A BT spokesman said the company had been "taken aback by the scale of the problem" and the number of times people had attempted to access pages containing illegal content.

However, this figure represent less than one millionth of the total Internet traffic handled by BT during the period. BT has almost 2m net punters.

A BT spokesman told The Register that even though it represents a tiny amount of total Internet use, it is "still worthwhile doing something to stem to the tide of child abuse".

Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Home Office minister Paul Goggins described the figures as "deeply shocking". He called on other ISPs to take similar measures to try and prevent people from accessing child abuse images.

The UK's ISP trade body, ISPA, said the Cleanfeed solution would "only prevent 'casual' browsing of known websites...It will not hinder organised distribution of such images. It will not prevent access to new websites offering illegal content, nor will it prevent children being abused." ®

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