A Washington advocacy group said that Comcast Corp. tightened parental controls and filters over pornography, enabling it to expunge the company from its list of companies and Hollywood bigwigs who contribute to sexual exploitation.
Comcast, the nation’s largest cable-TV company and residential internet provider, was on the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s list for three years. Companies still on the list include Backpage.com, HBO, Snapchat and Steam. Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, film maker Woody Allen, and actors Kevin Spacey and James Franco also made the Dirty Dozen list.
“Comcast is still selling pornographic content,” Haley Halverson, the group’s vice president of advocacy and outreach, said Tuesday. But she said that Comcast had made meaningful changes to the controls on its cable television and internet platforms, making it harder for children -- or adults -- to accidentally view porn.
After the advocacy group and Comcast had been in contact for about five years, Matt Strauss, executive vice president for Xfinity Services, and other Comcast executives visited the group’s offices in Washington in August to talk about their controls and filters, and to lobby to be taken off the list, Halverson said.
Comcast has improved Wifi filters in its internet service that block porn, and it has filters on its cable television service to vet content for children, she said.
Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Moyer said Wednesday that the company did not significantly improve its controls but informed the group of all those that were available.
“We have worked hard and are committed to use our X1 platform to provide customers a comprehensive set of parental controls, including access to onscreen program ratings like Common Sense Media, giving viewers more control and flexibility for how they access content," Comcast said in a statement. "We’ll continue to partner with third-party stakeholders in family safety and digital health, including the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, to make sure our customers have the latest parental control tools.”
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is now asking Comcast to make porn-blocking filters the default setting for Wifi, similar to regulations in the UK, Halverson said. UK regulators make porn filters a default setting for big internet services providers: BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, in addition to Comcast-owned Sky.
Comcast bought Sky for $40 billion this fall.
UK internet subscribers would have to choose to disable the porn filters instead of in the United States, where people choose to enable the filters, Halverson said.
Major companies recently have announced crackdowns on nudity and pornography. The social media site Tumblr said Monday that it will ban nearly all nudity from its platform. Starbucks will start adding porn filters to its WiFi in January.