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Anger as TalkTalk porn filter blocks women’s rights website

web blocking

By Jane McCallion

Posted on 28 Apr 2014 at 13:24

A women’s rights website has been blocked by TalkTalk’s HomeSafe porn filter, despite the site not hosting any adult content.

Blogger Zara Rahman on Twitter first noted that TalkTalk was blocking the website sherights, which carries stories on issues such as women’s health, politics, violence and culture.

TalkTalk’s customer care account initially suggested she adjust her security settings, which drew an angry response from Rahman and others, who pointed out the site should not be blocked at all.

TalkTalk has subsequently unblocked the site.

A spokesperson told PC Pro: "We’ve always been clear that there will be a small number of websites which are filtered in error, as unfortunately no filtering solution can ever be 100% perfect. Clearly this website should not have been classified in this way and ... we have reclassified the website and so it will no longer be filtered in error.”

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group told PC Pro: "We’re going to see many more examples of sites blocked for no good reason. TalkTalk should not be blocking feminist sites as pornography... Filters are a blunt instrument and will block the wrong sites."

Not the first time

This is not the first time TalkTalk’s filter has gone awry, recently blocked mainstream sites such as WordPress.com and image-hosting site Imgur.com.

It's also not the only ISP with a filter that overblocks. In November, a working group was set up at the request of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to deal with the issue, which had seen charities and sex education sites blocked by sensitive filters.

Default porn blocking was introduced by the four largest ISPs in the country at the end of last year, on the orders of the government.

Under the rules, users have to actively opt out of web filtering upon setup.

More recently, MPs have called for a further crackdown, demanding porn sites that do not use age verification be prosecuted under obscenity laws.

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User comments

Censorship, however innocent or well meaning, is censorship

It needs to stop.

It's far better to allow criminal websites to exist and monitor them, than to simply carpet-bomb the internet into oblivion and (falsely) assume you hit everything.

Think of the analogy of a terrorist (the MP's favourite).
Do you put road blocks all over the entire country, stop and search everyone that looks a bit like a terrorist and hope you get them? Bankrupting the country and crippling the police force to boot.
Or do you use intelligence, find out potential targets and be waiting to arrest them?

Currently, while most people think the latter, MPs and the Daily Mail are convinced the former is the magic answer. Just goes to show in most branches of the media and politics, monkeys get to the top branches fastest!

By cheysuli on 28 Apr 2014

I've some sympathy with the filters; being a feminist site it is quite likely that it was trying to 'reclaim' a certain swearword beginning with C, and the filters blocked it partly due to that.

Alternatively, perhaps they were using the word in its un-reclaimed form to tag pictures of Cameron and Gove... any blocking software would block a site that had pictures tagged 'a c*** and a bell end'.

By Mark_Thompson on 28 Apr 2014

Pity Scunthorpe then.

An example of an innocent occurrence...

By BornOnTheCusp on 28 Apr 2014

and Penistone

Filthy beggars

By nickallison on 29 Apr 2014

Worst comment of the year

"It's far better to allow criminal websites to exist and monitor them"
This year's award for the daftest comment of the year.
Yes, lets allow website that allow terrorists, paedophiles et al to communicate freely. It's daft ideas like that that give free speech a bad name.

By simontompkins on 29 Apr 2014

Smokescreen.

Yes, all those pesky terrorists and paedophiles affecting our civil liberties again. If you believe that, then you'll believe anything. There WILL be further internet controls proposed, under the guise of protecting children, and there WILL be further laws encroaching on our civil liberties proposed, under the guise of protecting us from terrorists, so the quicker we all wake up to it the better. Hasn't the penny dropped yet? Snap out of it.

By adolfobama on 29 Apr 2014

@simontompkins

Maybey a good point you have their.

Maybe a good point you have there.

First one wasn't a typo, I was just letting my pal know not to call round here as dibble are watching at the end of the road.

Guess it's now time to close down PCPro eh?

By synaptic_fire on 29 Apr 2014

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