Statement by Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCOSE
Washington, DC – After making remarkable improvements to parental control systems, Comcast is being removed from the Dirty Dozen List—a campaign by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation that names 12 companies contributing to sexual exploitation every year. The new 2019 Dirty Dozen List will be launched on February 11, 2019.
“Comcast has become an industry leader in thoughtful, family-oriented, digital design,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “After a 5-year dialogue with Comcast, focused both on the risk of pornography exposure to young children on Comcast devices and necessary improvements to parental controls, we are grateful to acknowledge that Comcast has made a significant effort to improve family safety and digital wellbeing in these key areas.”
“We are calling on other telecommunications companies like Verizon and DirecTV to learn from Comcast’s sensitivities to the needs of children and families. We also hope telecom companies will consider the opt-in system for WiFi, similar to what has been enacted in the United Kingdom so that people will be automatically protected from being exposed to pornographic content, unless they wish to intentionally access it.”
A Comcast Spokesperson Provided the Below Statement:
“Comcast is committed to improving digital wellbeing for all of its customers. We welcome dialogue on how to continually improve on these measures from third-party stakeholders in family safety and digital health, including the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.”
NCOSE Summarizes the Improvements to Comcast Systems Below:
- The best parental controls in cable. Comcast now offers Common Sense ratings to help parents distinguish the appropriate content for their children. They also created a “Safe Browse” option that lets people filter out both pornographic content and TV-MA content. Parental controls enable the ability to filter programming by TV or movie rating, channel, title, day and time, and/or by application (ex: blocking access to YouTube or Netflix.) Parents can also set up a Kid’s Zone where all content is vetted as safe for kids 12 and under—and still within the Kids Zone parents can filter for even more specific age-ranges and content and disable the ability to leave the Kids Zone through the use of a control pin number.
- Preventing unintentional exposure to pornography. Comcast has submersed pornographic channels so that it is more difficult to access, and the voice remote automatically blocks searches for pornographic content. They also have sanitized titles and descriptions of pornography and Comcast completely removed pornographic channels from their mobile app.
- Increased investment in digital safety. Comcast has committed to promote online safety features with a “Tips & Tricks” section, and with on-going development of a family safety center to assist with parents across their cable, mobile, and ISP platforms.
Due to the research showing pornography is a public health harm, NCOSE continues to advocate for greater social responsibility by cable/satellite companies to both remove pornography from on-demand offerings and to create an opt-in system so that no one is unintentionally exposed to pornography online.