Mobile madness as wrong sites censored by telecoms providers

GigaOM and others denied access

Mobile browsing took a hit this week with news that a number of seemingly legitimate websites have been blocked by mobile networks – everything from technology to fashion sites have been hit.

According to the Open Rights Group (ORG), which is keeping a close eye on mobile site blocking, 19 sites have been added to a block list, with no real reason for them to be on there.

The sites include GigaOM, a technology website, The Wine Society and the BNP's official page.

Block around the clock

Whatever your political stance is, the British National Party are allowed a say in the UK, and it is the blocking of their site and others that is causing the ORG to worry about the new blocks.

"These new reports highlight the breadth of over-blocking happening on mobile networks," said Jim Killock of Open Rights Group.

"The debate often focuses on adult sexual content. But mobile networks are making much bigger judgements about what people under 18 should be able to see, including decisions about political websites. They are making decisions that are best made by parents."

Killock believes that the blocking of sites through mobile phones sets a worrying precedent of what is to come if the Conservatives get their way and push ahead with default site blocking.

"Claire Perry's suggestion of default adult blocks for broadband ISPs would inevitably lead to a similar range of sites being blocked for adults in the UK. If children are to be protected by default, then why would the protection exclude chat sites, extremist sites, gambling, or alcohol?

"Whatever you think about the BNP's politics, political speech is at the core of the activities protected by freedom of expression rights. So long as they remain within the law, political parties' websites should never be blocked by ISPs. Schools and families are of course able to install their own blocking software if they want to make this choice."

The full report and a list of all the sites blocked can be found at www.openrightsgroup.org.

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