Do filters fail? We don’t think so
Companies and charities moan that they get blocked by filters, but frankly it's just the price we have to pay for a safe and clean Internet. These so-called websites must be small and unimportant, or maybe they should move from Essex, Sussex and Scunthorpe? Whatever. We know blocking the 'wrong' sites has nothing to do with our filters, which never make mistakes.
Open Rights Group has created a tool to check whether websites are blocked by filters. When they tested the 100,000 most popular websites, they found that almost 1 in 5 were blocked by one filter or another. These included websites belonging to animal charities, a branch of the Girl Guides and a Porsche brokerage. Many drug, alcohol and family planning charities that give advice specifically for young people have also been blocked. Small businesses, blogs and charities are more likely to be blocked than large corporations. You can find out more about ORG's Blocked project here.
How do I know if my website is blocked?
Lots of people who run websites or blogs are unaware that their websites are blocked. Blocking is not consistent across ISPs so even if you can see your site on your own devices, it may be blocked by other ISPs. That's why Open Rights Group created the Blocked tool. Simply go to blocked.org.uk to check any URLs.
What can I do if my website is blocked?
It can be difficult to get your website unblocked. ISPs may respond to requests from their customers but often there is no process to get your website unblocked by other ISPs. The Blocked website has the latest information for how to report a problem.
Changing Attitude is a small Christian charity campaigning in support of gay people in the Anglican Church. In 2013, TalkTalk classified Changing Attitude's website as pornographic making it inaccessible in any household using TalkTalk's Child Lock filter. It took three weeks and lots of pestering for TalkTalk to stop classifying Changing Attitude's website as pornography. Even then, TalkTalk didn't notify Changing Attitude that they had stopped filtering out their website.
"For some teenager somewhere, it's going to be really vital information that some Christians are gay. You'd think it would take exactly one second to see Changing Attitude isn't a porn empire."
Kate Smith - Chair of Changing Attitude