One in five websites are being blocked in the UK by Internet service providers in an attempt to protect children from mature content, according to a study by the Open Rights Group. However, over-blocking is affecting businesses, bloggers and regular web users.
The Open Rights Group created a free tool that lets anyone check if a specific web site is being blocked by an ISP filter.
â€œThrough the Blocked project, we wanted to find out about the impact of Web filters,â€ Executive Director of Open Rights Group Jim Killock said. â€œAlready, our reports are showing that almost 1 in 5 websites tested are blocked and that the problem of over-blocking seems much bigger than we thought.â€
The study showed that British internet service providers occasionally block web sites by mistake, even if they are not harmful to children. Examples include an educational post-pregnancy site, the web page of a Porsche brokerage and consulting company, and several blogs.
â€œWe would really appreciate it if TalkTalk would remove us from their block list,â€ Editor Paul Staines said after political blog Guido Fawkes was also blocked in the filtering process. â€œThe only people who block us are them and the Chinese government.â€
Prime Minister David Cameron supports the filtering process, but ISPs are not legally forced to check dangerous web sites. In July 2013, Cameron talked about new measures to protect innocent children who come across online pornography. Soon after, ISPs started to block web sites in an effort to comply, according to The Telegraph.
The Open Rights Group also showed the high level of variation between ISPs suggests that filters are not consistent in protecting children.