They Always Suck: UK ISP 'For The Children' Filters Block Disney And Educational Websites

Website blocking is now all the rage across much of the world. The way such website censorship happens is, however, as varied as the countries in which the censoring occurs. While some nations enact laws for internet filtering on all sorts of grounds -- be it porn, extremist content, or political dissent --, other countries have ISPs that proactively do this kind of filtering for their host countries. In many cases, this results in "parental filters" designed to keep harmful content from finding the eyeballs of children. In reality, when Comcast tried this here in America, it managed to block TorrentFreak for some reason.

But nobody does collateral site-blocking damage like UK ISPs. The stories about "for the children" and "but...terrorists!" ISP website filtering are legion, but recent reports put any focus by ISPs on the well-being of children in heavy doubt, given the amount of purely innocent children's content that is getting blocked by ISP filters.

What really stood out to us is that some sites which are targeted at kids, or at least useful to them, are blocked too.

One prime example is the official UK Disney website, located at disney.co.uk, which is blocked by BT’s Strict filters. That seems a bit cruel. The same is true for disneymoviesanywhere.com, which is not very useful, but certainly doesn’t seem harmful to us either.

Apparently, BT doesn’t want children to visit these Disney sites.

One can only imagine the rampage Mickey Mouse went on when he discovered this travesty. But this collateral damage went far beyond the House of Mouse, and across multiple UK ISPs, too. BT and Virgin Media blocked the website for Internet Safety Day, because apparently kids shouldn't be safe on the internet. Kidsandcode.org is also blocked by BT, while Three and Sky are blocking vikingsword.com, a site dedicate to history education.

None of this should really be a surprise, of course. Large organizations trying to accurately filter out unwanted content for parents, rather than having parents actually policing their children's online activity, is always going to fall prey to mistakes, laziness, and collateral damage. Always, always, always. What should be immediately apparent to witnesses of this is that if ISPs can't get this right, at least to the degree of not blocking Disney, what hope do legislators have in crafting site-blocking legislation that does this any better?

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