Verizon: FiOS Adult Content Displays Will Be Opt-In

Verizon this year will start requiring new FiOS customers to opt-in to see the display of adult content. That's according to a letter from its CEO to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), specifically to president Patrick Trueman and senior VP and executive director Dawn Hawkins.

A Verizon spokesperson confirmed the letter and the new opt-in policy.

In releasing its 2017 "dirty dozen" list Wednesday of what it calls major contributors to sexual exploitation, generally for allowing access to adult content via their various platforms, NCOSE (formerly Morality in Media) said Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam had signaled to the group that the company would be making that opt-in change in early 2017.

McAdam, in a letter to the group dated June 30 of last year (according to a copy supplied by NCOSE), says that "in early 2017, the display of adult content for new customers of FiOS IPTV will be automatically disabled. This means that adult content will not be in the menu unless a customer proactively enables it, nor will it be featured on the main menu page or in any recommendations."

As a result, NCOSE has taken it off the list for this year, calling it a positive change by company leaders, while still saying Verizon "continues to profit from the distribution and sale of pornography."

McAdam conceded that while the approach might not fill "all of [NCOSE's] objectives," he wrote that it was the appropriate option and protection. "We believe that there is a shared responsibility in educating parents and consumers generally about these issues and that customers have the ultimate choice to decide on the content that they consume," he said in the letter.

New to the group's "dirty dozen" list are Comcast, Roku and Twitter. The list also includes Amazon, YouTube, Snapchat and even the American Library Association (for not encouraging internet filters in libraries).

Comcast was cited for the adult VOD content available on its Xfinity TV service. In addition, NCOSE said, "as an Internet service provider, Comcast is not proactively filtering hardcore pornography, but shifts the burden of activating filters to their customers." 

As to the filtering of broadband content, a Comcast spokesperson said doing so "would be against the Open Internet rules."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.