Security

One-fifth of all websites blocked in the U.K.

In an effort to protect young adults from mature content, U.K. Internet service providers now block approximately one-fifth of all websites, according to a study conducted by Open Rights Group.

Occasionally, an ISP blocks a website by mistake — some sites that are not harmful to children may still be inaccessible. In one instance, a post-pregnancy website designed for educational purposes was blocked. In another, a Porsche brokerage and consulting firm was blocked by O2, a mobile and broadband provider in the U.K.

ISPs are not forced to filter sites, but Prime Minister David Cameron supports the move, according to Forbes. Cameron made a speech in July 2013 that addressed pornography on the Internet, and highlighted the innocent children who come across it on the Web. This is when ISPs may have started blocking non-threatening sites in an effort to comply, according to The Telegraph.

Open Rights Group has created a page where individuals can check to see whether a specific site is being blocked by a filter. The group is shedding light on just how many websites ISP filters are affecting.

“Through the Blocked project, we wanted to find out about the impact of Web filters,” said Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group. “Already, our reports are showing that almost 1 in 5 websites tested are blocked and that the problem of overblocking seems much bigger than we thought.”

Prior to the Open Rights Group “Blocked” tool, website owners could only assume they were being filtered as a result of a drop-off in page visits, according to Forbes. The Open Rights Group page will make it easier for individuals to determine just how much control ISPs have over their online content.

Some politically motivated websites have been impacted by filters as well. An ISP called TalkTalk blocks Guido Fawkes’ site. TalkTalk’s filter, called HomeSafe, is designed to prohibit explicit content. The company is now accepting emails from those who want to report a website that may be wrongly blocked, according to HereIsTheCity.

People are now turning to “Blocked,” but Open Rights Group notes that different filters have different levels of security. Its website specifies that even if the “Blocked” tool detects that a URL is not blocked on an ISP, this may not be the case on other networks. “Blocked” only checks the “default” level of ISP filters, and it cannot check filters on private networks. Open Rights Group hopes to create a test that will include stricter filters in the future.

18 comments
Adam Reed
Adam Reed

Actually it was because your forefathers objected to paying the English taxes to prop up their empire. The internet had nothing to do with it :P

Patrick MacCartee
Patrick MacCartee

It's like cable 90% of it is crap so who really cares, there's still more content than anyone needs.

John Kneeland
John Kneeland

@Franz it's GCHQ. If you're going to have an incoherent rant may as well try to get the spelling right.

Max Jacobi
Max Jacobi

Why exactly they created .xxx domain? Nothing seems to be changed.

Tim Cokayne
Tim Cokayne

Stop commenting on it as it isn't true.

Will Smith
Will Smith

Innocent children coming across it? LOL

Franz Haslbeck
Franz Haslbeck

Anyone to remember the Vietnam war photo always titled "Why?" ?? So again ... "WHY ???" What the hell are all of you waiting for ?!?