July 26, 2013 10:41 pm

Huawei defends UK internet filtering role

Young boy, age 10, surfing the Internet wearing a headset©Alamy

Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications company that has been the subject of US security concerns, has defended its role in filtering online pornography in the UK.

Huawei’s HomeSafe technology is used by one of Britain’s main internet providers, TalkTalk, to identify adult sites from which customers have chosen to opt out.

Such filtering is likely to become more widespread in the coming months following a campaign by David Cameron to make it harder for children to access explicit websites.

The main internet providers have agreed to give all new and existing customers the choice of whether to have access to pornography by the end of 2014.

The prime minister has in the past declined to join criticism of Huawei, which has become increasingly central to the UK’s telecoms network.

Critics say that filtering is likely to be inaccurate, and risks creating a database of users’ internet habits.

Both Huawei and TalkTalk said the Chinese company had no control over how the software was used by customers.

“The system is similar to other solutions in the market and is based on keyword categorisation; URLs [web addresses] are added under instruction from the customer,” Huawei said in a statement.

While TalkTalk has operated a network-level filter for explicit content since 2011, other providers such as Virgin Media are yet to decide how to implement the new arrangement.

Concerns over how internet traffic is processed and monitored have intensified following revelations from the whistleblower Edward Snowden about the alleged co-operation of leading internet companies with security authorities.

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