More fury at filters blocking non-offensive websites
Piracy news provider TorrentFreak has expressed its outrage at the default blocking of its website by Sky’s child protection filter.
Co-editor of the site, Andy Maxwell, raised concerns about the impact on the site’s reputation, given it is now ranked alongside sites featuring “porn, suicide, self harm, violence and gore”. The site was blocked as it fell into the “anonymisers, filesharing, and hacking” category used by the the ISP’s filter, which is provided by Symantec.
He urged Sky to change its Broadband Shield product to get TorrentFreak unblocked and called on all filtering providers to “start listening to people’s legitimate complaints about other innocent sites”.
The “porn filters” that ISPs have been told to implement by the UK government have been widely criticised for blocking non-adult content. Maxwell said TorrentFreak was completely against website blocking, describing it as a blunt instrument, “prone to causing collateral damage and known for failing to achieve its stated aims.
“Apparently the people at Sky and their technology masters at Symantec believe that we should be denied our right to communicate on the basis that we REPORT NEWS about file-sharing issues,” Maxwell wrote on the site yesterday.
“Symantec write about viruses and malware ALL THE TIME, so are they placed in the malware and virus category? Of course not.
“Our crimes are the topics we cover. As readers know we write about file-sharing, copyright and closely linked issues including privacy and web censorship. We write about the positives and the negatives of those topics and we solicit comments from not only the swarthiest of pirates, but also the most hated anti-piracy people on the planet.
“And to Sky, please don’t try pretending that you’re actually trying to stop file-sharing with your parental controls, because if you really meant business you would have blocked the actual protocols, not merely some websites.”
At the time of publication, Sky had not responded to a TechWeekEurope request for comment.
Other seemingly innocuous sites, including sex education and charities, have been blocked by different ISPs in the last month. O2 had to fix its filter as it started blocking access to a variety of charities, including ChildLine and the NSPCC.
UPDATE: The day after this report, Sky stopped blocking TorrentFreak in its filter.
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