O2 changes porn filter after charity sites blocked

 

The telecoms company O2 has been forced to amend its so-called “porn filter” after it inadvertently blocked access to charity sites including ChildLine, the NSPCC and the Samaritans.

The filters have been introduced by major internet service providers (ISPs) in recent weeks after demands from David Cameron that telecoms companies act to stop children “stumbling across hardcore legal pornography”.

But the changes have led to internet users being denied access to a wide range of organisations including child protection charities, women’s charities and gay rights groups. Among institutions that have found themselves subject to the blocks are the British Library and the National Library of Scotland.

The opt-in filters also deny access to the Parliament and Government websites and the sites of politicians, including Claire Perry, the MP who has campaigned prominently for the introduction of filters.

The level of censorship has provoked a stream of criticism on social media sites, mostly directed at O2. Bloggers who checked the status of their sites took to social media to complain that they were being blocked. Harry Clapham, whose website offers guitar lessons, complained on Twitter that he was being censored by the filter. “So a parent who opts in is safe from guitar lessons giving their kids bad dreams,” he tweeted. Another Twitter user complained that “it appears ‘parental control’ is O2’s term for ‘switch the whole internet off’.”

Myles Jackman, a solicitor who specialises in obscenity law, said: “This shows filtering does not work in the way it is intended to. It is going to over-block. The fact that it blocks all blogs if parental controls are turned on is a shocking infringement.”

O2 told The Independent on Monday that it was changing its parental control filters to allow access to some of the charities that had been blocked. “As you can appreciate there are millions of sites that exist and sometimes they can fall through the net to be categorised correctly. ChildLine, the NSPCC and the Samaritans have all now been added to the ‘allowed’ list for Parental Control,” an O2 spokesman said.

The controversy demonstrates the difficult position of ISPs in deciding which content should be censored, after the Prime Minister announced in the summer that “family-friendly” filters would be automatic unless customers asked their ISPs to allow them access to adult material. All existing customers of major ISPs will eventually be asked to choose.

O2 stressed that its parental control settings for mobile internet were designed to create a “walled garden” in which children under 12 could safely go online. “It enables us to restrict children’s web access via their mobile to a limited number of sites which are suitable for children,” the spokeman said.

Other ISPs have faced criticism over their filters, with TalkTalk blocking sex education and rape crisis sites and BT denying access to a domestic abuse helpline.

Blocked off: the affected sites

nspcc.org.uk National charity dedicated to preventing child abuse

childline.org.uk Online version of the NSPCC’s ChildLine helpline for kids in trouble, especially busy at Christmas

samaritans.org Highly regarded charity helpline is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and also sees its greatest demand at Christmas

gov.uk Portal to a huge range of government websites

parliament.uk Democracy in action

bl.uk British Library, with details of events including latest exhibition, “Georgians Revealed”

claireperry.org.uk Devizes MP Claire Perry, campaigner for tighter controls on internet content

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager - OTE £60,000

    £35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In 2014, they launched the worl...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Design Lead

    £23958 - £29282 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

    Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

    £22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Designer / Developer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This creative agency requires a...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones