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BT insists that any attempt to identify the number of people accessing illegal content on the Internet is "pure speculation".

Its response follows calls for independent analysis of its Cleanfeed Web filtering system because of concerns that the data might be giving a misleading picture of the scale of Internet child abuse.

Some media reports claimed thousands of people were accessing child pornography in the UK. Yesterday, ISPA - the trade group for the UK's ISPs - said it wanted to examine the Cleanfeed stats, so that "appropriately informed comment on the system and the data that has been published".

"Only then will we be in a position to ascertain if and how many people are actually trying to access these websites and hence understand the true scale of the problem," ISPA said.

Today, BT has responded to ISPA, acknowledging that the 230,000 attempts to access banned sites does include both "deliberate and accidental attempts to access blocked sites as well as multiple attempts".

BT's Statement in Full

From Mike Galvin, BT Director of Internet Operations

"BT has been totally clear about the figures. Basically, there was an average of 10,000 blocks a day between 21 June and 13 July but the figure was 23,000 a day during the last week when the test period had ended and the system was fully in place. These figures include both deliberate and accidental attempts to access blocked sites as well as multiple attempts. The figures give no indication of the intent behind an access attempt so any claim to identify the number of people from the number of blocked visits is pure speculation.

"BT has always said the technology is not a total solution to this challenging problem, but it is a start. BT agrees with ISPA that the IWF has made great progress with tackling the hosting of such sites in the UK and BT sees this technology as a step forward. It is different in that it tackles the problem from another angle by preventing people from deliberately or accidentally sites including those located overseas.

"The fight against child abuse is a global one and so it is important that everyone works as closely as they can with the relevant law enforcement agencies and bodies such as the IWF. As a result, we have said we are willing to share the technology with other service providers on a non commercial basis and so we look forward to discussions with them." ®

Related stories

ISPA seeks analysis of BT's 'Cleanfeed' stats
BT blocks 230k attempts to access child porn
Police to monitor chat rooms
BT's modest plan to clean up the Net

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