By: MarkJ - 15 February, 2012 (1:32 PM)
censorship uk internetorange uk logoThe France-based La Quadrature du Net (LQDN), an often outspoken civil society group that promotes the online rights and freedoms of people across Europe, has been blocked (censored) on pay-as-you-go handsets by mobile operator Orange UK.

The move, which is likely to spark consternation among similar organisations, was apparently confirmed by the Open Rights Group (ORG) today after customers reported (via ORG's blocked.org.uk site) that the group's website was no longer accessible to them.

ORG's Gemma Craggs said:

"Mobile phone operators automatically ‘filter’ the mobile Internet on pay-as-you-go phones as they are unaware whether a child or an adult is using the device, and, as such prohibit access to websites that supposedly fall within this category.

Searching for LQDN’s website on Orange pre-pay handsets leads to a warning that ‘Orange Safeguard has classified this page as only suitable for people over the age of 18.’ LQDN’s site does not contain any such material. But it still falls within the parameter of adult-related material. You can see Orange's classification system here.

That La Quadrature Du Net is blocked under such a policy highlights the need for change. The problem of over-blocking is being exacerbated by a lack of transparency (so that it's not clear what is blocked and to whom) and the problems users experience trying to opt-out."

Harsh restrictions like this are often highlighted as examples of what happens when unregulated censorship by commercial firms goes too far and hinders access to perfectly legal and legitimate content.

Meanwhile most mobile operators appear to lack the necessary mechanisms and processes in order to handle related complaints and disputes by those whom feel unjustly censored. The Open Rights Group (ORG) is currently in the process of meeting with mobile operators to discuss the problem.
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