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UPDATE ISP TalkTalk Block Women’s Rights Website for Alleged Pornography

Monday, Apr 28th, 2014 (9:05 am) - Score 651
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Customers of budget broadband provider TalkTalk, specifically those whom have enabled the operators network-level HomeSafe Internet filtering censorship system (Parental Controls), have complained that the system is incorrectly blocking the women’s rights website https://sherights.com under the questionable category of “pornography“.

As one of TalkTalk’s customers, Zara Rahman, put it yesterday: “Turns out the whole https://sherights.com site is blocked. Heaven forbid kids learn about gender equality, right?“. However, outside of an incorrect security certificate (the site is fine but the certificate they use may throw up browser errors since it’s for the wrong domain), the sherights.com site does not appear to contain pornography and instead claims to be “born from a desire to raise awareness about women’s rights issues and news“. Indeed the content it contains appears to support this.

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The situation is somewhat similar to last year’s case where O2 was accused of unfair “sexism and political censorship” after its Mobile Broadband platform was found to be blocking over 100 websites that promoted equality for men or helping male victims of domestic violence and rape (here).

Sadly the big ISPs like TalkTalk are no strangers to wrongful blocking and all have experienced a seemingly endless stream of related problems, which have most recently hit popular websites like WordPress.com (here) and Imgur.com (here). However, regardless of whether such issues are caused by an IWF based child abuse filter or similar Parental Control systems, the problems continue to highlight an inherent weakness with such solutions that will always exist.

TalkTalk have confirmed that they’re investigating the latest issue and in the meantime those who want to re-gain access, ideally without having to disable HomeSafe completely, can add the site to HomeSafe’s whitelist via the services related settings page. Similarly anybody who wants to bypass skin deep filtering solutions completely can easily do so via a VPN or Proxy Server, as is always the case.

UPDATE 2:45pm

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The ISP has informed ISPreview.co.uk that the block, which it agrees was incorrect, has now been lifted.

A TalkTalk Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

We’ve always been clear that there will be a small number of websites which are filtered in error, as unfortunately no filtering solution can ever be 100% perfect. Clearly this website should not have been classified in this way and we are grateful to our customers for bringing this to our attention.

We have reclassified the website and so it will no longer be filtered in error. We have a simple one click reporting button that anyone can use to tell us if they think this is the case. We’re continually developing HomeSafe and welcome feedback of this nature.”

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Mark-Jackson
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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