Parental control, comes the filter that blocks all dangerous content

An amendment approved in the Justice Commission provides for the mandatory use of a parental filter on smartphones, computers, televisions and also by telephone operators

In Italy pornographic content could be blocked by default on all devices to protect children. This is foreseen by an amendment present in the conversion text of the law on justice and interceptions and that bears the name of "Systems for the protection of minors from the risks of cyberspace". The amendment foresees that on all electronic devices and also on one's own telephone subscription there is a filter that blocks inappropriate content, even pornographic content. The filter has a precise name: parental control. For many Italians it is not a new term: parental control has been present on all devices for years: it allows families to block the viewing and downloading of content and applications. This amendment, however, changes the cards on the table: it should not be the user to request activation, but it works by default.

What is parental control

Parental control, better known as parental control, is a function present on any type of device to protect children from watching content not suitable for their age. It is present on smartphones, computers and even on smart TVs or set-top boxes to watch channels. Parental control works like a filter: it doesn't allow viewing or access to content or platforms that may not be appropriate for the child or teen.

For example, on smartphones, parental control blocks the installation of apps by youngsters based on their age: they must first request parental consent and then start the download. Similarly, it also blocks in-app purchases: there are increasing reports of kids spending thousands of euros on games like Fortnite or Fifa.

How to activate parental control

All smartphones have parental control at the operating system level: Google and Apple have implemented functions that allow parents to decide what and what not to do with their children. Alternatively, parental control can also be activated for the SIM card to block any payments for subscription services. There are also applications that perform a very similar function.

The same is true for the PC: there is a parental control tool implemented at the operating system level for both Windows 10 and the Mac. On Apple computers you can directly create an ad hoc account with parental controls active by default.

Also on smart TVs it is possible to activate the protection filter to prevent children from viewing content not appropriate for their age and block the installation of dangerous apps. It is usually present in the Settings of the TV.

What does the amendment on parental control

The text of article 7 bis of the law on Justice and interceptions is quite explicit: "Contracts for the supply of electronic communication services governed by the code referred to in Legislative Decree August 1, 2003, n. 259 must provide, among the pre-activated services, systems of parental control or filtering of inappropriate content for minors and blocking of content reserved for an audience older than eighteen years". The text goes on to say that the parental filter must be free of charge and can only be deactivated at the request of the consumer.

If the amendment is approved definitively, telephone operators and producers will have to adapt to the new rule.

As explained by senator Simone Pillon, one of the promoters of the amendment: "the introduction of the obligation for suppliers of cell phones, tablets, laptops, TVs and other devices to pre-install a filter, free of charge, to block content that is violent, pornographic or inappropriate for minors". 

The first objections to the amendment have already arrived from experts on issues related to the network and access to information. The active filter by default, in fact, could damage the right to correct information and could be catalogued as a form of censorship. We will see in the next weeks how the situation will evolve.