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Between 35,000 and 40,000 attempts to access child pornography sites via BT Retail's broadband network are blocked every day, it was revealed today.

Extrapolated to the entire UK broadband market*, the figures mean there are more than 58 million attempts to access sites on the Internet Watch Foundation's (IWF) blocklist annually. The list is not published, but the IWF says there are typically between 800 and 1,200 URLs on it at any one time.

BT released the figures today in response to a Register inquiry. A spokesman said botnets and use of UK proxies from overseas made it hard to judge how many of the attempts to access child pornography sites are made by a real person, whether deliberately or by accident.

Both BT Retail and the large ISPs use a system that returns a 404 error whenever a blocked URL is entered. No record of the attempt to access a child pornography site is made or reported to authorities.

A spokesman for BT said: "The number has stayed roughly the same [in recent years] even though use of the internet has increased."

BT's system has been in place since 2004. The government said in 2006 that it wanted all ISPs to implement the IWF's blocklist by the end of 2007, but small ISPs holding about five per cent of the market have not. They argue blocking does not address the real problem, as those determined to access child pornography can easily circumvent such systems.

Yesterday European home affairs ministers met to discuss proposals that would grant national governments the power to force ISPs to implement child pornography blocklists. ®

*BT Retail has approximately a quarter of the market.

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