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Accountability software

The Internet can be both a blessing and a curse. While it is an incredible tool to stay connected to others, helps us do our jobs and is a powerful educational resource, we can also use it in ways that are damaging to our wellbeing.

If you’re looking for protection online, internet accountability software can be a fantastic tool to help you stay away from pornography or other unhelpful content.

Accountability software will not necessarily prevent you from accessing certain material. Instead, it encourages good behaviour by giving someone a reason to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. It will monitor internet use, generate a report about the sites visited, and then send it to a chosen ‘accountability partner’.

There is also the option for filtering software, which functions by monitoring, filtering and blocking (where appropriate) internet traffic. If the filtering software’s algorithms detect that the website being accessed is potentially objectionable, the software creates a ‘digital wall’ that will prevent the user from gaining access to that content.
Note that there are also some options out there for both filtering and accountability that have a free option, such as KasperskySafe Kids ( ).

Examples of Filtering Software

Some of the most notable filtering programs are Net Nanny, SpyAgent, and Qustudio. These programs typically have features, such as:

  • email alerts when some sites are visited
  • summary reports of all internet activity over a given period
  • chat reports of dialogue that have taken place with other people online
  • screenshots of Internet and computer use and activity.
  • Mobile airtime and broadband providers can provide automated parental control blockers, if requested, and the Windows Operating System comes with a ‘Family Settings’ function, whilst some internet browsers can have a similar capability. These tend to be very broad brush, and (because you control them), are not too difficult to switch off or circumnavigate. 

Net Nanny ( is a software-based parental control filter that can block pornography and manage screen time. It does, however, cost about £65 a year for 5 devices (although discounts are available), and is best for a family setting. The cost increases to £105 a year for 20 devices. It works on all the major operating systems and phones.

SpyAgent ( is a more complete package, mainly for Windows computers, and is very expensive at around £65 a year per computer. Unfortunately, it is not available for phones.

Qustudio ( markets itself as an “all-in-one parental control and digital wellbeing solution” that works across all the primary computer, phone and tablet operating systems, and works by being downloaded on a ‘parent’ device, to monitor a ‘child’s’ internet activity. The cost ranges from about £40 for 5 devices to £65 for 10. 

To gain the most from filtering software, you will need to ask a friend or family member to act as the ‘parent’, and they will review usage and make sure you don’t seek to circumnavigate the system by switching it off.  

Accountability vs Filtering Software

Filtering deters accessing content by making it more difficult to access; however, it may not address the root cause of the issue, which is taking responsibility for one’s actions and maintaining integrity. By contrast, internet accountability software cannot force a person to stop accessing certain content, but it encourages them to behave with integrity. Online accountability software puts more responsibility on the individual using the device to make healthy choices about their use of the Internet. It is a relationship-driven way of encouraging healthy and positive internet engagement, with the goal being an attitude of accountability that will also extend into other areas of the user’s life. Accountability partners can have productive conversations with the software user, a chance that might be denied if only using filtering. More than half of all pornography is viewed over a mobile device, so it is important for the software to serve mobiles in a way that maintains the functionality of the device. Most filtering options for mobile devices work by essentially limiting the device’s function and forcing its user to browse the Internet via a “safe browser”. Unfortunately, many of these can be circumvented by different browsers or apps that would allow unrestricted access to the Internet.

Accountability Software 

The most significant difference is that Accountability Software rarely blocks or filters content, but reports the websites looked at. When it flags a website as explicit or dangerous, it sends a report by email or text to one or more of the accountability partners that the user has chosen. The software is very clever, but can sometimes be over-cautious (which is better), meaning the partner could get a report flagging a newspaper story or article for having concerning content, where it can be easily explained. However, this keeps the conversation between the user and partner going, and so takes a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach! It can take a great deal of courage to admit the problem to one or more friends, and ask them to be accountability partners, but that is at the heart of the solution. Other positive points are that the software also monitors “incognito” browsing, and if you uninstall the software from a phone or computer, it informs your allies. Sometimes, you even have to contact the software manufacturer and ask for an uninstall code. Some limitations that are worth mentioning are:

  1. Covenant Eyes routes the internet traffic via their US-based servers. This means that streaming UK content (e.g. from the BBC or Sky) might not be allowed and Netflix can get very confused!
  2. If you are using a corporate PC or mobile that a company or other organisation monitors, then the software or app might conflict with the supplied monitoring software. If this is the case, the software supplier might provide a solution.
  3. Reports may contain page headers from websites visited, which could include contact information etc. So, there could be privacy concerns if using the software on a work computer, for example.

Three accountability software options

Covenant Eyes (CE) is by far the largest company in this space and partners with churches and Christian groups. It works with Mac, iOS, Android and Windows operating systems. It is mainly concerned with porn use and, unlike some other options, doesn’t seek to limit access to other sites such as gambling or chat rooms. CE continuously captures screenshots of your phone at random, analyses them, and sends blurred images to your partners through email. It also tracks the websites you visit, sends reports of them to your allies and provides a filter to restrict access to certain content. The Covenant Eyes accountability software supports a “panic button” feature that cuts off access to the Internet when pressed, if an individual is dealing with temptation. The program costs about £14 per month and includes 10 users and unlimited devices.

Accountable2You was initially started by a Christian developer, who wanted an accountability tool that didn’t negatively impact internet speed, as he found many others did. It functions on Windows, iOS, Android, Chrome and Linux devices. The online program does not show website links in the reports, because the program creators have determined that doing so may tempt an accountability partner to click on the link. So, they typically only show the title of the webpage in question. Accountable2You advertises its most significant advantage to be the reporting features. The program provides a large amount of customisable information to accountability partners about the activity of the device’s user. There are instant alerts, both email or text, sent to the partner, to increase the immediacy of accountability. The cost is a lot less than CE, at about £6 per month for an individual (on 6 devices), or £10 for a family (covering 20 devices). You can try it for free. 

Ever Accountable is an online accountability program that supports Android, iOS, Windows, Chromebooks, and even Kindle devices, and is again aimed at dealing with pornography usage. The company also supplies meaningful articles, emails and guides to keep the user on track. The software has a free 14-day trial and the company gives discounts for those who pay up to a year in advance. This online programme can also monitor what is happening inside of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or other apps. The programme can monitor activity done in a browser’s incognito mode. The cost for an individual is about £72 a year (one user with unlimited devices) and for a family is £96 a year.

This article was originally published in the summer 2022 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.

Download the summer 2022 edition of Ascend