Digital Privacy

Orange UK blocking La Quadrature du Net

Through reports to the site, we have established that Orange UK are filtering access to La Quadrature du Net’s website on pre-paid mobile accounts.

La Quadrature du Net is similar to ORG – it is an advocacy group that seeks to defend citizen’s fundamental rights on the Internet. They have been a leading voice in the growing movement to oppose the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, behind which so much momentum is gathering. They have provided detailed analyses alongside practical suggestions about how to help with the political effort to oppose the treaty.

This mobile blocking technology was built to prevent individuals under the age of 18 from viewing adult-related and unmoderated content on sites. This specifically meant content involving, for example, gambling, chatrooms, dating, user generated content and visual material of a sexual nature. 

Mobile phone operators automatically ‘filter’ the mobile Internet on pay-as-you-go phones as they are unaware whether a child or an adult is using the device, and, as such prohibit access to websites that supposedly fall within this category.

Searching for LQDN’s website on Orange pre-pay handsets leads to a warning that ‘Orange Safeguard has classified this page as only suitable for people over the age of 18.’ LQDN’s site does not contain any such material. But it still falls within the parameter of adult-related material. You can see Orange’s classification system here.

That La Quadrature du Net is blocked under such a policy highlights the need for change. The problem of over-blocking is being exacerbated by a lack of transparency (so that it’s not clear what is blocked and to whom) and the problems users experience trying to opt-out.  

We’re gathering more evidence of the scale of the over-blocking problem through site, and you can help by reporting inappropriate blocks you find. We’re currently in the process of meeting the mobile operators and the Mobile Broadband Group to tell them our concerns and outline how we think the problems can be addressed. More efficient measures need to be implemented in order to allow parents to implement tools to try to manage their children’s Internet use whilst ensuring that adults are not subject to unnecessary censorship.


Update: Sometime between Friday February 17th and Monday February 20th, the La Quadrature du Net website was unblocked on Orange. We have not established why it was blocked or subsequently unblocked. We are meeting Orange tomorrow to discuss their mobile filtering policies.