UK's new national firewall blocks Slashdot, EFF, and Boing Boing


UK Censorship. Why don’t they burn some books while they are at it.


Dare we hope the backlash will cost some party an election?


I’m reading that this is a specific “whitelist” super-kid-friendly (in theory) filter, not the default web filter.

There are three levels of blocking:

Open Access - what people who’ve asked for “no filtering at all” see.
Default Safety - what people who’ve signed up without expressing preferences see.
Parental Control - what people who’ve actively asked for a child-friendly device see.

Now, O2’s Parental Control is a funny old thing. It allows but blocks To be honest, it blocks most of the internet apart from a tiny number of mostly corporate sites. It allows but blocks We may never know why - this is all done by their unspecified third-party partner (rumour has it that this is probably Symantec).

So, don’t feel too proud, BoingBoing hasn’t been specifically called out, it just hasn’t been included.

Edit: as other people are saying, this is also a mobile-specific filter, not broadband.

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The original blog post made a grievous error that’s repeated here, and shouldn’t be propagated further. The very restrictive “Parental Control” filter level isn’t the default, which is a much less restrictive porn filter. You have to explicitly ask to have the Parental Control level of filtering applied to an account. It’s still not good, but it’s not this bad.


The Daily Mail, the champion of the firewall, is also included in the list of blocked websites under the parental control filter setting.


I’d love to switch to an independent ISP liked Andrews and Arnold, just unfortunately so expensive (more than twice as much as I pay now for the same speed). Maybe something I will revisit if I can afford it.

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Unfortunately, this post is confusing two very different things, which means the headline is totally wrong.

The site checker that the “grumpy old BSD guy” linked to is related to o2’s mobile service, not its broadband service (which is now part of Sky). In common with most mobile companies, o2 has a default blacklist, which can you opt out of easily. It also has a set of much stricter “Parental control” setting which allows parents to tightly lock-down what a child with a mobile can see. It’s this second “Parental control” setting that’s basically blocks everything on the internet, apart from a handful of “child-friendly” sites.

I think this isn’t anything to do with the government mandated porn block. It’s just the same mobile filtering that’s always been there, and that’s common across pretty-much every mobile company. I can’t imagine why anyone would change any child’s mobile to basically block the whole of the internet, but it’s opt-in, and it should be up to the parents.

Sky, which now owns o2’s former broadband service (not the mobile network), does have a system of DNS-based filtering called “Broadband Shield” which is compliant with the government-“requested” filtering system. Although I haven’t run through it, it seems to work like this: when you sign up to Sky as a new customer, you’re presented with filtering options. The default setting is on, but you can change it at this point. (More details in Sky’s response to ORG’s questions about it). The “PG” and “18” level filtering is, of course, as much riddled with inconsistency as any other filtering system, but it’s not the “OMG BLOCK EVERYTHING” that o2’s mobile parental controls are.


In my rush to reply to you I also totally failed to read the following part of Cory’s post:

So, yeah. Confusing.

this is totally Maggie’s fault.


IMHO this is a necessary evil. I just wish activists like Cory would have taken the chance to spin it in their favour by using Cleanfeed as a bargaining chip. For the un-initiated, Cleanfeed is the existing censorship system where an unaccountable private company manages a list of websites that are unaccessible to the whole of the UK. That is the real Big Censorship Firewall of Britain, and it’s been in place for years, blocking everything from PirateBay to jihad sites to innocent dentists’ websites.

Now that all major ISPs have an easy option for filtering “generically bad content”, why do we still have Cleanfeed? It would have been a good chip to bargain (“ok, we’ll do the filtering by default, but the non-filtered link should be completely unfettered like it was before Cleanfeed”). Instead, ISPs and activists just screamed censorship, were dismissed in the court of public opinion (who wants to defend the right of pre-teens to access porn?), and then had to implement the filters without getting anything in return (except a vague promise not to legislate on the matter – a promise that can be reneged at any time, of course, especially when/if Tories will get a larger majority).

There is no need. The next General Election is more or less already played out: LibDems will go back to single-digit and lose tons of MPs; Tories will hold at best, and at worst lose tons of MPs because of UKIP splitting their votes in Midlands and home counties; Labour will pick up enough votes to get a thin parliamentary majority, despite a wobbly leadership. This cock-up might increase the Labour margins by one or two points, that’s about it.

(Assuming Scotland will still send representatives to Westminster. If they’re entirely out by 2015 already – unlikely, but you never know – then the Tories will have a guaranteed majority from here to the end of the world.)

So much unnecessary confusion here.

This has nothing to do with the government or the UK, it’s a kid-friendly filter O2 offer for children with mobile phones. It also has nothing to do with ISPs. It really is just an option O2 offer for concerned parents - stop panicking.

As for UK-wide filters, there are two positions on this.

  1. Piracy - Major ISPs have received court orders to block certain piracy sites for copyright protection etc. Not a big deal for most people who buy content, and if you don’t there are many means of circumvention anyway.

  2. Adult content - This is an agreement between main ISPs. A suggestion was put forward initially to block adult content by default, with the ability to opt in. This is simply a case of logging in to your ISP panel and enabling/disabling this option. Many main UK ISPs opt in to this, some don’t. All they’ve done is add a feature at ISP-level. You flick a switch to choose what you want. Simple as.

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Is it just ‘adult content’ though? And who decides what’s ‘adult’?

All we have to do to end this is make a plug in that filters all the sites they want you to go to like any shopping sites in the UK and the like all the government sites and it wont be long before they scream unkle.

Not so.

Latest polls predict a Labour Majority of 82.

There are only 59 Westminster seats in Scotland.

Not all of those are won by the Labour party.

And this is in a situation where Labour are ahead, but hardly popular

That calculation relies on UKIP getting 12%, spoiling every possible Tory seat they can, and still winning 0 seats - a lose-lose scenario for both parties.

Even assuming it will happen, it’s clearly not something that will be repeated – those votes will likely turn Conservative again, or an alliance will be agreed. In any case, without Scotland in the picture, the Tories only need about 30 extra seats, and this starting from a position where they are deeply unpopular and saddled with a generation of low-caliber figures. A permanent Tory majority in England might not be a certainty but it’s a very likely scenario.

Or, the “adult content filter” is just a cover for censorship, to reduce public exposure to words that may be critical of those in power.

i just tried couple of sites on that site
it seem to keep everything blocked under the kids safe filter
even government sites from outside UK