Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Find out if your web site is blocked by UK ISPs

Screenshot showing this site is blocked by TalkTalk

It may surprise you to learn that the internet in the UK is censored. Indeed, around 19% of the top 100,000 web sites, ranked by Alexa, are subject to some degree of blocking by British internet service providers (ISPs). The lovely people at the Open Rights Group (of whom I’m a supporter) have launched which will let you see which, if any, UK ISPs will block your web site.

Although (as far as I am aware) there is currently no legislation that mandates that ISPs block web sites, the UK government has pressurised ISPs into enabling filters for adult content which are enabled by default. Individual subscribers then have to actively opt out of these filters in order to be able to browse adult sites – the idea being that it should therefore be harder for those under 18 to see content that isn’t suitable for them. Some web sites are also blocked as a result of court orders, usually for copyright infringement, so the likes of The Pirate Bay are generally unreachable.

Of course, filters are a very blunt tool, hence the reason why Blocked has been set up. The screenshot above is the result for this site, which shows that it is blocked by TalkTalk’s filters. Another example is the feminist blog Jezebel, which is restricted on the mobile network Three. And I’m sure there are plenty of examples of adult web sites that are not blocked.

If you find that your site is blocked, there is some help for getting your web site unblocked, but it’s different for every ISP – there’s no consistent process, and no independent arbitrator or ombudsman. And because these blocks are not enforced by legislation, there’s no legal framework behind them either.

If this sort of thing angers you, then please consider joining or donating money to the Open Rights Group so that they can continue to run campaigns like this one.

One Comment

  1. My testing has shown, according to the filters, the following ARE kids-safe:
    * Totally naked female exposing breasts (on the DailyMail website no less!)
    * A 2girls1cup mirror site
    * and gun/weapons promotion sites

    However, is not safe for kids using BT (RISC OS news site) is not safe for TalkTalk users is not safe for kids using BT is not safe for mobile users (blocked by EE, O2 and Three – safe for all other users)