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Open Rights Group Condemns Mobile Censorship

The Open Rights Group (ORG) has issued a new Mobile Internet Censorship report which warns of the collateral damage that comes from network censorship.

Mobile phone operators have child protection filters in place by default, and while keeping children away from the less savoury corners of the web is a commendable goal, the policy has other repercussions such as the unintentional censorship of perfectly valid sites.

This report comes off the back of the Claire Perry led cross-party inquiry of MPs, which applauded mobile networks for their stance, and argued that fixed line ISPs should take a similar hard line, with default opt-in censorship of adult material (meaning you need to contact the ISP to "enable" access to pornographic content).

Many opponents, however, have argued against this, including ORG which in this report is now pushing for an "active choice" policy to be in place when it comes to mobile surfing. Active choice means users are offered a choice whether or not to allow adult material when they first start up with an ISP, a distinct difference from being forced to contact the provider to ask for it to be switched on.

ORG's report points to the casualties of mobile censorship, citing cases such as the Biased-BBC watchdog website, which found itself blocked by O2's filtering in March of this year. Or "La Quadrature du Net", a French rights activist group which found its site blocked by Orange in February.

ORG notes it received 60 complaints of wrongly blocked sites in the first quarter of 2012, and that ISPs can be slow and unresponsive when it comes to trying to get them to correct mistakes.

ORG stated: "There are serious consequences to badly implemented, default child protection blocking systems. They include restrictions on markets, censorship, a failure to address young people's diverse needs and a false sense of security for parents."

The organisation argues that longer term, there should be a shift away from ISP censorship to device-based protection.

Source: ORG