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UPDATE ISP BT Accused of Blocking a Disability Rights Campaign Website

Tuesday, Jun 12th, 2012 (1:31 pm) - Score 818

The website of a UK focused disability rights campaign, Black Triangle, claims to be losing up to £500 per month because BT has allegedly prevented its broadband customers from being able to load the site for roughly 6 months.

Black Triangle itself was setup in “opposition to the current vicious attack on the rights of the disabled by the Government using ‘Work Capability Assessments’ to re-classify genuinely sick and disabled individuals as ‘fit for work’“. In particular the group is known to be quite a harsh critic of Atos Healthcare, which was employed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to manage the related system. Atos has occasionally issued legal threats in order to get such criticism removed from the internet.

According to TechWeekEurope, the campaign group, which now allegedly finds itself restricted alongside the likes of violent online porn and child abuse content, has so far been unable to gain a satisfactory explanation as to why BT are imposing the restriction.

A BT Spokesperson said:

BT has spoken to the website’s IT team several times today and they are aware that we’re investigating the problems they are experiencing. We’re looking into the issue and hope to provide them with an update as soon as possible.”

Hopefully BT has a legally viable justification for the block as otherwise it could mark a potentially significant shift in how big ISPs, or at least BT itself, approach the issue of censorship.

It’s one thing to unilaterally block child abuse websites, nobody wants them, or sites that have court orders against them, but it’s quite another to ban legitimate content. Accidental blocking can happen and hopefully this is just one of those examples.

So far nearly all mobile operators and fixed line broadband ISPs have also failed to develop an adequate appeals process in order resolve related incidents.

UPDATE 13th June 2012

The Open Rights Group (ORG) is carrying a new statement from BT today, where the ISP states that it has “never placed any block on this site“.

A BT Spokesperson said:

BT has never placed any block on this site.

In fact, when the issue was raised we found it difficult to find any BT customer that could not access it.

After significant discussion with the Black Triangle Campaign’s representative and extensive technical analysis we have as yet been unable to find any technical issue on the BT network preventing access to this site.

We have asked Black Triangle for permission to speak its site hosts in Iceland to establish the cause of this issue.”

The news is good for anybody whom may have been concerned that BT was imposing a deliberate block, clearly that is NOT the case. At this stage it remains unclear why access to the site appears to be prevented from certain connections; BT seem to be pointing the finger at the related web host.

It’s worth remembering that access to a website can be broken by more than filtering systems. A mis-configuration of the server itself or routing problems can also cause similar issues.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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