Telstra's take two on Web tracking is opt-in

Telstra asks whether redesigned 'Smart Controls' addresses privacy concerns.

Telstra has revived its controversial “Smart Controls,” turning the filtering tool into a purely opt-in program. The product will become available in late November.

In June, Telstra revealed it was tracking websites visited by Next G customers and sending the information to a US-based company called Netsweeper. The data was to be used for Smart Controls. Telstra stopped the collection after Next G customers raised privacy concerns.

“We got the design of this component wrong and in the process we disappointed our customers,” Telstra core mobile services director Nick Ruddock wrote today on the Telstra blog.

Telstra has pitched Smart Controls as a cyber safety tool for families. Parents can block unwanted calls or callers, set up a safe list of numbers and websites, place daily time limits on Web browsing and phone calls and prohibit access to certain types of Web content such as adult and gambling websites.

“Many customers have told us that, in principle, they thought the product was a good idea,” Ruddock wrote on the Telstra blog. “Parental control software is broadly available for fixed internet services but Australian parents have few options for protecting their kids when they’re on smartphones.

“However, many other customers told us that they did not want the network practices used to categorise websites for such a product applied to their mobile service if they had not opted in to the Smart Controls service.”

Under the redesigned Smart Controls, Telstra only looks at websites visited by customers who opt-in, he said.

This time around, Telstra has opted to ask for customer feedback.

“We are speaking to customers, government, consumer groups and child protection organisations to ensure we transparently explain our plans and how the revised product operates—this blog is part of this process,” Ruddock wrote.

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