Progress Report! Comcast Improves Streaming and Internet Tools to Better Protect Families
We have an exciting update from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s recent meeting with top executives from Comcast here in Washington DC.
Right away they told us about how they took our feedback and concerns from our meeting last year and how they have made key improvements based on that feedback! While we are going to list out several specifics in the below portion of this article, even if the above sentence is all you read, you know that vital policy changes have occurred to better protect kids and families in large part because of your support of NCOSE!
With over 20 million subscribers, these changes are making a huge impact!
There are four main platforms by Comcast. 70% of their customers use X1 traditional cable boxes by Comcast, and Comcast also created Flex (an Internet-based ala cart content platform), Stream (a web-based app for accessing content), and Xfi (the modem device for accessing the internet.)
Comcast Video Streaming Platforms
X1, Flex, and Stream – all have the same parental controls and levels. We were extremely impressed with the progress they made in this area! They made all of our suggestions and took our concerns to heart to develop even stronger protections.
Improvements and Positive Functions:
- By DEFAULT now, safe search and safe browse are turned on across all platforms when it comes to any which way a user might want to search the platforms or content: meaning you can’t accidentally stumble on the “adult” content on their video streaming platforms.
- They have made Common Sense Media reviews and ratings much more visible and available for every show, film, and app for which they have ratings.
- Comcast’s kid zone is well-done and can be set by 4 different age group levels up to 13. (In many other services we look at, they have one level only for a child area section) After age 13, there are robust system controls to continue providing a safe user environment.
- Comcast improved their system controls dramatically over the past year as well. They took our suggestion of having more than 2 levels of filtering and now there are 4! You can, of course, restrict to medium safety which blocks pornography and x-rated content. We are impressed that you can break down the controls to filter/block on a variety of levels now, from age to rating, to title-specific, and channel-specific. You can even turn off services during certain times of the day. This is an impressive standard we will work to get implemented by others in this space.
- Their app store does not allow pornographic or sexually explicit apps.
Comcast as an Internet Service Provider
Xfi, Comcast’s Internet tool, is what we were most eager to discuss with them. Last year there was no way to monitor or restrict content at the ISP, or modem, level, but now there is!
You can now set up profiles based on users in your home and then restrict per user their total usage time, time of day they can have Internet access, and you can set a filter at the modem level to restrict content for child users.
This is significant progress!
We are encouraged by their work and their promise of ongoing dialogue moving forward. We do see areas still needing improvement (they are still selling some pornography) and will continue to work with them on those.
Nevertheless, we are grateful to Comcast for stepping up as a leader in this space and look forward to working with them to make these industry-wide standards.
None of this would be possible without your support! Please consider a donation to NCOSE to help improve more policies like these.