Today, Open Rights Group relaunched www.blocked.org.uk
A Porsche broker, a political blogger and a mum hoping to read an article about post pregnancy care are among those that have been affected by Internet filters, designed to protect young people from adult content.
In 2012 we published the Mobile Filtering Report, investigating the way default blocking on mobile phones was denying people access to important information. We reported on what has seemed like rather arbitrary censorship, such as the New Wine church block. ORG analysed and drew examples from our site at blocked.org.uk which originally allowed people to submit when they found that a site had been blocked.
Now the full extent of Internet blocking can be revealed by our relaunched Blocked project.
Any web users can use the free checking tool on www.blocked.org.uk where they can instantly check to see if a website has been blocked by filters. Our tool checks the submitted url for blocks across the main Internet networks on both broadband and phone. We have test lines from 3, Andrews & Arnold, BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Plusnet, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Vodafone.
Through the Blocked project we wanted to find out about the impact of web filters. So far Open Rights Group has tested over 100,000 sites and found that over 19,000 - almost one in five - are blocked by one ISP or another. The problem of overblocking is not going away. 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.
We've found that there is a lack of information about how to get sites unblocked. Mother-of-one Marielle, said she was ‘humiliated’ when she visited the Three store to find out how she could order to access an article about post-partum care on her phone: “The manager told me that I couldn’t access filtered articles without entering a 4 digit pin every time I wanted to read a filtered article because I had a PAYG plan.” Marielle submitted a report to Three saying that the article had been incorrectly blocked but didn’t get a response.
There are more personal stories on the Blocked site and we'd like to hear from you if you've been affected by filters.
We'd like to thank our supporters who committed to make this project happen. ORG's team of technical volunteers worked with us to build the systems and software for this project and we're very grateful for their time. We couldn't have done this without the support of our community, so thank you.
How you can help Blocked?
Test your url: https://www.blocked.org.uk
Spread the word: We want as many people as possible to talk about how filtering effects them. It's only through being vocal that we'll be able to change the Government's attitude to Internet censorship.
Join ORG: By joining ORG you can help us continue to provide Blocked for free and support our on-going development of the tool.