League of Legends game update not blocked by ISP filters

22 Jan 2014
knotted cable

Gamers have wrongly accused UK ISPs of blocking a file download

Speculation that updates for the League of Legends game were blocked by ISPs' adult-content filters is incorrect, PC Pro has learned.

UK gamers claimed their "patcher" gaming software was unable to download certain files, with the logs displaying error messages.

Commenting on Reddit, they speculated that because the two addresses in question contained the letters "s", "e" and "x" consecutively, the files had been blocked by newly implemented adult-content filters from British ISPs, namely TalkTalk, BT and Sky.

The two files were called VarusExpirationTimer.luaobj and XerathMageChainsExtended.luaobj, according to the thread.

Network-level filters began rolling out towards the end of last year after intense government pressure on ISPs to improve child safety online. If switched on, the filters can block different types of content, including pornography.

Though the major ISPs - BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin - are not legally obliged to roll out the filters, gamers blamed the issue on the UK's "anti-sex law". However, PC Pro understands that it isn't the filters to blame.

File blocks

Although the ISPs haven't fully detailed how their filters work, PC Pro understands that none block files in this way - they block specific URLs, rather than downloads.

While all three filters might block a URL if it falls into the category of pornography or other unsuitable content, users would see a page clearly telling them that that URL is blocked. The page would also provide a way for users to change their settings.

None of the affected gamers showed evidence that the ISP filters were to blame - by posting a screenshot of the blocked URL, for example.

Sky told PC Pro that League of Legends is still available to customers. BT said it had yet to receive any complaints.

"BT Parental Controls is a new product and we would be happy to investigate cases where we are provided with the URL that customers believe may be blocked incorrectly," a spokesman said. "Our categorisations are constantly updated to keep pace with the fast moving content on the internet."

TalkTalk also said it would look into any customer reports.

"We are concerned to hear claims internet filtering may be incorrectly restricting access to League of Legends file downloads," a spokesman said. "So far none of our customers have asked us about this, and there is nothing to suggest HomeSafe, our free parental controls tool, is responsible."

Riot Games, the publisher behind League of Legends, has not responded to a request for comment.

Overblocking issues

Though reports of accidental blocking were apparently inaccurate in this instance, reports of unintentional censorship are becoming more common.

Virgin has yet to roll out its parental-control filter, but TalkTalk, BT and Sky have already implemented their filters - and have had to fight a stream of negative reports about accidental site blocks, or "overblocking".

Sky accidentally censored news site TorrentFreak last month for customers with parental controls, only lifting the block once alerted by the media.

BT and TalkTalk were also criticised in December for blocking legitimate sex education websites.

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