About 20% of the most popular websites on the Internet are being blocked by the porn filters employed on local broadband and mobile networks. For example, it was noticed that a Porsche car dealership, a couple of feminist websites, a blog on the Syrian War and a political website suffered from the filters recently installed in the United Kingdom.
The Open Rights Group has recently surveyed the 100,000 most popular websites to discover that 19,000 of them were blocked by a fixed line or mobile ISP – and sometimes even by more than one provider.
In the United Kingdom, for example, 4 mobile networks have used filters for a while now, following a push by David Cameron. Broadband companies have caught up, introducing porn blocks that allow parents to screen out potentially harmful content. Every subscriber will be asked whether he or she wishes to apply a broadband filter by 2015. Adult content filters screen out pornography, along with suicide and self-harm related content, weapons and violence, gambling, drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Moreover, people can also decide to block dating, music and movie piracy, games and social networking.
The Open Rights Group explained that such filters can stop customers accessing your website, block political commentary or harm your education. In other words, the government pushes people into filtering lots of content that they simply don’t need to.
The examples are numerous. An American who moved to the UK wanted to read an article about recovering from childbirth on her mobile phone, but it was blocked by her mobile network, Three, who for some reason imposes a filter as default for all pay as you go customers.
A Porsche brokerage has recently found their website blocked by O2’s filter. Emails and calls brought no results in having the ban lifted, until the company began tweeting about the problem. All O2 responded with was “mistakes can happen”.
Syrian War commentator’s blog was screened out by EE, O2, Sky and Vodafone.
Sherights.com, writing about sexual health, violence against women and lesbian and gay rights, was blocked by TalkTalk a few months ago. The worst thing is that the ban boils down to advertising revenue.
Finally, The Guido Fawkes website is also blocked for subscribers who have selected to screen out all social media. This includes Facebook, Twitter, blogs and chat forums.