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I knew it! Bloody filters

Further to this post in which I queried whether having a default filter for the entire country that banned access (supposedly) to porn, was really a good idea, the inevitable has now happened.

One of my lovely customers, the very sensible and respectable lady who created Ski Stuff* - a child safe website for parents who want to hire ski kit for their kids - tells me that one of HER customers, who has a Talktalk internet connection, has found that the Ski Stuff website is blocked by her Homesafe internet filters.   Talktalk were, I understand, planning at one point to opt their users into filtering automatically, but they seem to have thought better of it after finding that only 22% of parents wanted things done that way.  Now they offer the option to turn filtering on during signup instead, but the default is 'filters off'.   But of course, some people choose to turn the filters on, as is their right. 

None of this helps me much though, because now here is a website aimed at parents of growing kids, and at schools, and potentially, a pool of parent-customers who can't see it unless they turn their filters off (and probably won't do so, because they will quite reasonably assume the site is dodgy in some way). 

I deal with filtering quite a bit on email, and with email, if your domain or server gets accidentally blacklisted for some reason, there are lots of tools and techniques you can use to communicate to other email hosts that, OK, this particular email may mention the words 'price' 'virgin' 'discount' and 'offer' and - shock horror - include a pound sign - but it is actually the holiday & flights confirmation that the recipient is eagerly waiting for, not some sort of 'discount offers on cut-price virgins!!!' spam.   Not so much, apparently, with web.  There seems to be very little information on what they class as 'adult' or why, or how to get off a blacklist if you find yourself on one. 

If anyone knows how to request a review of a website that has been autoblacklisted by Talktalk filters, or even run tests on what gets blocked - I'm all ears!

*yes, I know there are, or were, some missing prices - sorry.  The site has a content management system, the owner maintains it and sometimes you catch her in the middle of making updates, when she has stopped for a cup of tea or something.  The design & functionality ideas are all hers, I just made them work with technology. 


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
25th Oct, 2012 12:50 (UTC)
Sorry I can't answer your technical question, but I feel your frustration.

My Sky box has a parental lock -- if I record a film that has a 15 rating or over, I have to enter a PIN to play it back! And it doesn't matter that I'm the only person living in the house, they tell me it can't be turned off!

I don't have kids, but if I did, it would be my job to teach them to read, watch TV, and use the Internet critcally and responsibly, and I can't see that ever involving any sort of filter -- certainly not a filter that a company has imposed on them in order to cover its own arse. A filter defeats the whole 'teaching kids to behave responsibly' thing before you even start.

[Having said that, I'm currently running a fic exchange in which all stories rated R and above are f-locked and members are only approved if they have an age statement on their User Info page :-(

It's totally against my principles (because nobody ever filtered my reading/viewing), and a shed load of work (because no matter how obvious I try to make the age rule, people overlook it, and then I have to contact them and explain why I can't approve them), but it was introduced by the previous mod when LJ started deleting comms with unlocked mature-rated stories because 'parents' had complained.]
25th Oct, 2012 21:03 (UTC)
Very true : nobody ever filtered my reading / viewing as a child either - although of course the sheer range and variety of porn available is greater now. But you'd think that would just make it harder for filters to be effective.
25th Oct, 2012 12:58 (UTC)
I discovered this morning that giff gaff won't let me read DreamWidth (and by extension I assume, LJ) accounts which have the content warnings enabled - or at least they won't unless I give giff gaff my passport or driving licence details (which I'm vaguely unwilling to do on the grounds that I don't like giving random internet people personal information unless I can see a good reason for it). I haven't decided how big a deal I think this is, but its definitely a black mark against giff gaff.
25th Oct, 2012 14:54 (UTC)
Hmph, they don't provide any details either!

A further trawl turned up : http://www.blocked.org.uk/ where I was able to report the problem, and that led me to :

http://urlchecker.o2.co.uk/urlcheck.aspx which showed 'Parental Control: Blocked' as status for that site. And here: http://www.o2.co.uk/parents/theinternet I find that this is because it is not one of the 'sites that have been classifed as suitable and interesting for children under 12.'

But still no details as to how that classification is achieved...
25th Oct, 2012 15:03 (UTC)
Interesting, I assumed it was just that someone had a content warning on, not that the whole site was blocked. But of course, assuming I wasn't randomly logged off dreamwidth, the content block shouldn't have prevented me seeing the post . I should double-check it is all of dreamwidth that is effected because, if so, it is probably best to alert dreamwidth and let them handle the fact they are blocked rather than trying to do it myself.

I've poked around the giff-gaff site who say that enabling parental controls and blocking content is standard for all UK mobile hosts. Though I never had a problem with 3 (or rather never had a blocked content problem with 3 - I had other problems with 3) but presumably they were working from a different "bad people" list.
26th Oct, 2012 02:09 (UTC)
When my ISP was virgin.net, I had great difficulty communicating with American friends who used comcast which blocked my emails as spam. I also jokingly mentioned viagra in an e mail and that got blocked too.
26th Oct, 2012 08:14 (UTC)
I have a customer who is having exactly the same problem because they sell Virgin airlines flights.

Bad name choice Branson!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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