Budget broadband provider TalkTalk came under fire over the weekend for allegedly blocking access to the women’s rights website https://sherights.com, which campaigns against everyday sexism and better access to healthcare for women.
One TalkTalk customer quipped yesterday: “Turns out the whole https://sherights.com site is blocked. Heaven forbid kids learn about gender equality, right?”
The efficacy of censorship through website blocking has been brought under scrutiny in recent times, as more and more governments try to enact blocks on file sharing, pornography and sites featuring extremist content.
At the end of 2013 it was reported that the de rigueur Internet porn filters demanded by British Prime Minister David Cameron of leading UK ISPs faced criticism, after it was revealed that legitimate sites including sex education resources and domestic abuse support websites had been blocked as a result of the questionable initiative.
BT, TalkTalk, and Sky have all kowtowed to the government's demands to automatically block adult content online, whilst Virgin Media says it is currently trialling the scheme ahead of full rollout next year.
However, an investigation by BBC Newsnight has found the efforts of ISPs to be erratic, with TalkTalk's network failing to detect seven per cent of adult websites, whilst simultaneously blocking access to award-winning sex education site BishUK.com, and the Edinburgh Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre in Scotland.
Sky's porn filter fared considerably better, filtering some 99 per cent of sites deemed offensive, but also blocking six domains linked to sex addiction treatment.
The four major ISPs are set to fund a £25 million advertising initiative in 2014 to explain their support of the PM's porn filters and highlight issues around online child safety.
After criticism that the adult content filters implemented by UK ISPs were blocking legitimate sites, in February the government began brainstorming a variety of ways to fix the issue.
According to BBC News, a whitelist is now being proposed that would share with ISPs the names of educational sites that should be left untouched by the filters. The latest example of TalkTalk has once again shown the widespread problems with implementing such a system.