The Blocked project aims to improve transparency about filters that are provided by mobile phone companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Central to this is the Blocked tool, which allows anyone to find out if a website is being blocked by filters. This tool allows us to correct errors and better understand the limitations and impact of filters.
Please note that we are currently having problems with PlusNet and TalkTalk filters, and are moving our Virgin line.
If you are a staff member at an ISP who has received a notification and want to understand what it is, how they are generated and sent, or how to respond to them, please see our ISP page.
Mobile phone and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) provide filters that aim to stop children from seeing harmful content. Some companies give their customers the option to opt in to activating filters. Others switch them on by default.
Because they rely on automated searches for certain words and images, filters overblock many websites that are not harmful to children. This has included websites aimed at young people - for example, sites offering advice on alcohol, drugs and sex.
ORG is concerned that filters are blocking large numbers of websites to UK households. This has implications for individuals, charities and businesses. There are also concerns around children and young people's right to access information.
We think that there is a lack of awareness about the mistakes that filters make. Many website owners who have contacted us were shocked to find out that their site is blocked.
Filters are a blunt tehnical tool for challenging a social problem and there is no evidence that they work. We believe that the emphasis for keeping children safe online should be through education and parental supervision.
We want filters to be opt-in and not switched on by default. Currently, Sky and the main mobile phone providers switch on filters automatically for their customers. We think customers should be given a choice about this upfront.
We want more transparency about how ISPs decide what to filter and the companies they use to do this for them.
We want more awareness of filters to help website owners check and challenge blocks.
We want to make it easier to get sites unblocked. We think one of the ways that mobile phone companies, ISPs and their safety project Internet Matters can do this is by promoting the Blocked tool, which is the only way that someone can instantly and simply check if a website is blocked.
If you would like to stay informed about ORG's work in censorship, privacy, copyright reform and defending human rights and digital civil liberties, please sign up for our newsletter.
If your website has been blocked, please get in touch. We would like to hear from anyone who has been affected by web blocking.