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Porn-sniffing ISPs block 20% of ALL websites

James Temperton
2 Jul 2014
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New web filtering tool shows 'overblocking' is a major issue as non-adult websites are censored

Adult content filters implemented by the UK's major internet service providers are blocking one in five websites, with critics claiming they are not fit for purpose.

A scan of 100,000 websites has found that nearly 20,000 of them are blocked, with political blogs, car dealerships and feminist rights websites all censored.

Blocked, developed by online advocacy organisation the Open Rights Group, scanned the web filters of major UK ISPs and mobile phone networks including BT, EE, O2, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Three. Virgin media and Vodafone.

The Open Rights Group figures show that of the 100,000 websites so far checked nearly one fifth of them are blocked, often incorrectly.

Paul Staines, better known as political blogger Guido Fawkes, pleaded with TalkTalk to unblock his Order-Order.com website after it was found to be blocked.

"We would really appreciate it if TalkTalk would remove us from their block list. The only people who block us are them and the Chinese government," he said.

A TalkTalk spokesperson explained that Order-Order.com is only blocked by its social network filter, a non pre-ticked option used by a small percentage of cusomers.

Other websites blocked include feminist right website sherights.com and Porche dealership philipraby.co.uk, which are blocked by TalkTalk and O2 respectively.

Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group said that that so-called "overblocking" of non-adult sites was a bigger problem than anyone had imagined:

"Different ISPs are blocking different sites and the result is that many people, from businesses to bloggers, are being affected because people can’t access their websites," he claimed.

The government ordered web filters, championed by prime minister David Cameron, are designed to protect children from pornographic websites and other adult content online.

The default-on web filters are being rolled out by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media with people required to actively turn them off if they don't want websites blocked.

With all the UK's biggest ISPs signed up to the goverment scheme, it is expected that 95 per cent of households will be asked if they want the filters turned off by the end of 2014.

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