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Mens sana in fibro sano: Virgin Media network-level smut filters are ON

What will punters use their new fast connections for?

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Virgin Media joined the big boys' club today by switching on network-level filters which allow subscribers to prevent perfectly legal material such as pornography from being accessed on their broadband connections.

The cable company's rivals BT, BSkyB and TalkTalk have implemented similar censorship blockers on their networks over the course of the last few years.

Virgin Media's system, dubbed Web Safe, uses DNS-based filtering technology and is being offered from today to new customers. Existing punters won't gain access to the filters until later this year, the company said.

And, like BT, the telco struck a deal with California-based outfit Nominum to provide the controls.

However unlike BT, TalkTalk and BSkyB, Virgin Media has yet to develop a system for customers to be alerted to any unauthorised changes that might have been made to their accounts.

It means that youngsters who know their parents' account details and want to meddle with the filter can do so without being caught out. At least, that is, for now.

A Virgin Media spokesman told The Register that the company, which is owned by US cable giant Liberty Global, would be adding an email alert process to the system. He added that subscribers will eventually be able to customise the settings based on different age categories.

It's understood that Labour MP Helen Goodman has been somewhat naively lobbying the government to apply a British Board of Film Classification-like age rating to every single webpage.

Separately, Virgin Media announced today that it was boosting its broadband connection speed to 152Mbit/s for just under a quarter of the telco's 4.4 million customer base. Some subscribers will be offered access to the faster fibre optic network from April this year, apparently without any price increase.

The company added that it had pushed its entry-level broadband product to 50Mbps, and, when quizzed by El Reg, confirmed that it was ditching its downstream traffic management policy.

Fun times! ®

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