The Open Rights Group (ORG) has heavily criticised Orange UK (EE) for allegedly blocking access to Google’s hugely popular internet video streaming site YouTube through its child safety filtering service “Safeguard“, which is switched on by default.
A spokesperson for the mobile operator initially told ISPreview.co.uk that “Orange is not blocking YouTube” but the claim, which surfaced this afternoon as part of a wider update on unfair website censorship by Mobile Broadband operators (here), was soon updated with a video to show the problem.
Ironically the video was posted on YouTube so we don’t know if Orange could view it or not but the operator has since told us that they’re now “looking into it“.
Jim Killock, ORG’s Executive Director, said:
“While Claire Perry describes blocking problems as a ‘load of c***‘, we are being given a continuous stream of innocent sites being blocked for no good reason.
The wider that default filters are installed, the worse this will get. We need much more sensible, careful arrangements that help adults manage their children’s Internet access.”
The Open Rights Group further told ISPreview.co.uk that YouTube on Orange “has been found blocked several times over the last two or three months“, which suggests that it could be a mistake with the operators filtering system. Quite a big mistake but at least it’s probably giving their internet traffic a rest [insert conspiracy theory here].
Similarly both Orange and O2 were also found to be blocking other legal websites, such as an online jewellery store called Mari Thomas Jewellery. Apparently it’s classified by O2 as an “anonymiser“, which at a cursory glance doesn’t make much sense. On the surface the website appears to be completely harmless and as a commercial business such a block could be very damaging.
UPDATE 20th June 2013
Orange has again told us that it “does not block YouTube” and the site is apparently “readily available to our customers through the browser or through apps“, thus the problem has been put down to one of many “isolated incidents“. The operator has called on anybody who feels they are experiencing issues of content being blocked when it shouldn’t be, to contact their Customer Services team and they’ll investigate immediately.
ISPreview.co.uk has also been informed that part of the problem could be to do with a change to Orange’s Safeguard system, which use to only be “on” or “off” (it was on as default) but now apparently comes with three settings (detailed here). The new (third) setting is called “Light” and this is apparently supposed by be used as default in place of being fully “on“.
In essence the “Light” setting restricts access to 18+ content, but sites which deliver user generated content such as Twitter, Flickr, Picasa and YouTube are still supposed to be accessible. By comparison, with Orange Safeguard in full On mode, only universally rated sites are accessible and sites which deliver user generated content are restricted, as well as sites rated 18+.
Clearly this isn’t always working as well as it should for everybody as the “On” setting still appears to be the default for quite a few people, even though it’s supposed to now be “Light”.