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Plusnet is working on a network-level filter to block pirate sites

BT-owned telco developing own system for parents to censor web

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Exclusive Plusnet is developing its own network-level filter to allow subscribers to censor content on its broadband service as well as help the telco suffocate access to websites linking to pirated material, The Register has learned.

The Sheffield-based ISP, which is owned by telecoms giant BT, confirmed to us that its censorship tool and copyright-infringement blocking mechanism would be applied to its network at some point this year.

Plusnet currently hooks into BT's Peering platform. A company spokesman explained to El Reg:

Our use of the BT platform results in users being blocked from accessing websites engaged in online copyright infringement when BT has been ordered by a court to do so.

Plusnet is in the process of launching a more comprehensive blocking solution that means Plusnet will block all websites engaged in online copyright infringement where ordered by a court to do so.

We quizzed Plusnet about its filtering arrangement after a Reg reader alerted us to the fact that the ISP had begun choking off access to notorious BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay earlier this month.

When asked specifically about the planned filtering system, the Plusnet spokesman told The Reg that the company currently offers it customers an off-the-shelf McAfee security package that comes stuffed with parental control options.

He added:

We do appreciate that a network level solution will make it easier for parents to administer and we are aiming to have a solution in place in 2014 which will provide our customers with the flexibility and control they need.

The Register asked Plusnet to tell us what tech the network-level filter would employ. The likes of BT, TalkTalk and BSkyB are using DNS lookup, for example, as opposed to the much more intrusive and controversial Deep Packet Inspection technology infamously used during BT's secret trials of Phorm's web monitoring system.

Plusnet declined to comment on the specifics, but told us the tech was "under review".

We also asked the company when it planned to make the filter available and if it would be completely independent of BT's system - and for what reason.

The firm's spokesman simply told us that Plusnet was "aiming to have a solution in place in 2014". He added: "I can confirm that Plusnet work[s] on different systems to BT." ®

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