UK's new national firewall: O2's "parental control" list blocks Slashdot, EFF, and Boing Boing

The Great Firewall of Cameron is going live, with all British ISPs defaulting their customers to an "adult content filter" -- meaning that you have to call up and say, "I demand pornography!" or all the sites on the blacklist will be off-limits to you. Included in O2's "parental control blocklist" are such hotbeds of hardcore porn as Slashdot, EFF, Linux Today, Blogspot, No Starch Press, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and, of course, Boing Boing. The "parental control" list is something you have to ask for (not the default-on filter), but it's being actively marketed to parents as the responsible thing to do. For the record, I've switched my broadband to Andrews and Arnold, who oppose Internet censorship.

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

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

  3. 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.

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