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Survey Warns UK Website Blocking Could Trigger More ISP Switches

Monday, October 15th, 2018 (1:24 pm) - Score 1,559
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A new survey has warned that the Government’s increasing moves to force home broadband ISPs into censoring (blocking) internet websites could result in 64% of UK people changing their broadband provider for one that’s less intrusive.

The findings stem from a new August 2018 survey of 2,011 UK adults, which was conducted by MoneySuperMarket. Overall the comparison site suggests that the country is divided on whether ISPs should be allowed to censor sites and content on the whole, with 21% believing they should be able to and 27% thinking they shouldn’t.

Interestingly those aged 18-34 admit to using the internet for a combined average of almost 11.5 hours per week and nearly half (45%) have attempted to access a site that was blocked. On top of that a quarter of all respondents also said they would switch ISP if the Government introduces its new Age Verification System for commercial pornographic sites, which would force ISPs to block those that don’t comply.

At present all of the major broadband ISPs already offer Parental Controls (network level filtering) that can be used to block such content, although these are optional and the Government’s proposed solution would also add a mandatory layer of censorship (most likely only at the DNS level).

One problem with the idea of switching ISPs to avoid such censorship is that the policy will apply to almost all providers (this is still a bit of a grey area for smaller providers, which might struggle with the costs of implementation). Business connectivity providers seem to be largely exempt and it will also be child’s play to circumvent the censorship (VPN, Proxy Servers etc.).

Emily Thompson, MoneySuperMarket, said:

“The findings from this research are very relevant to conversations around net neutrality and what constitutes a ‘fair internet’. Net neutrality is the concept that all data on the internet should be served equally, with no connections to sites favoured over others – so it seems that Brits really value having the freedom to explore the internet at their leisure, without ISPs implementing blocks or throttling services based on package types.

While the dialogue regarding net neutrality in the UK is relatively low-key, it has controversially been repealed in the US, suggesting that it could become a much bigger issue once Brexit is finalised and we look at rethinking European legislation. For now, ISPs need to decide what’s in the best interest of their customers: eschewing the current net neutrality laws to reduce competition or getting on the side of the consumer and keeping the internet fair and equal.”

Separately the survey highlights confusion among Brits regarding internet speeds. Despite one-fifth of respondents using internet services for at least 25 hours per week, 22% still don’t actually know their service speed, although it often impacts the overall price they pay. In reality, most (55%) only care that it works and does what they need it to.

Taking aim at online games, the findings also claim that nearly 31% of households have “changed their package as a result of the extra bandwidth required to play online video games such as Fortnite.” On this point we assume they’re focusing on game downloads rather than playing the game itself, since multiplayer netcode usually doesn’t gobble a lot of bandwidth (it’s lightweight in order to keep latency optimised for a fast ping).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. MikeP

    “it will also be child’s play to circumvent the censorship”

    Deliberate choice of words there, I’m sure 🙂

    Of course it will. And it will be children who are, as always, best at it. Which makes a further mockery of the “think of the children” slogan.

  2. JamesMJohnson

    “On this point we assume they’re focusing on game downloads rather than playing the game itself, since multiplayer netcode usually doesn’t gobble a lot of bandwidth (it’s lightweight in order to keep latency optimised for a fast ping)”

    An assumption based on only a single device using the connection to play games.
    We’ve entered an era (a while ago) where it’s not uncommon for mutliple devices to be playing games whilst a stream is playing or on-demand viewing is downloading… in addition to windows updates, ip based cctv etc… saturate your pipe and your latency will rise.

    Then there’s also games which stream (voxel based games like Minecraft, SpaceEngineers etc)… check out the bandwidth reqs for SpaceEngineers and be shocked if you want to host it.
    Games like WoW etc now also utilise ‘minimum download’ so that you can start playing whilst it continues to download the main content and updates.

    It’s no-longer a case of latency vs bandwidth as more and more games are beginning to have greater requirements for both (and I haven’t even accunted for poorly optimised netcode present in many Steam games).

    Note… optimised netcode normally opens a UDP connection for ‘fire and forget’, things that aren’t retransmitted like movement/button clicks etc whilst a TCP connection will be utilised for streaming of content, chat etc. Introduce connection saturation by other devices and watch that rubber-banding begin as your client corrects itself due to the server not receiving the UDP packets. Increasing the upload bandwidth greatly helps with this… thus gamers moved from ADSL to FTTC.

  3. Mike

    Or just use a VPN…

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