Home
 » ISP News » 
Sponsored

Cable ISP Virgin Media UK Blocks Popular Picture Website Imgur UPDATE3

Monday, July 15th, 2019 (7:43 am) - Score 10,425
virgin media imgur blocked

A number of customers from cable broadband provider Virgin Media are reporting that the ISP has blocked the whole of the popular picture sharing website Imgur.com through its Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) linked proxy filter, which normally only targets criminal pages that depict indecent images of children.

The most likely explanation for this is that somebody has uploaded child abuse content to Imgur.com’s otherwise legal website and in response Virgin’s IWF filter has been rather overzealously applied. So instead of only removing access to a specific page or content – the usual approach – it’s actually ended up blocking the entire domain.

As a result of that the vast majority of people who tried visiting the website during the very early hours of this morning, probably just to look at funny cat or dog pictures (par for the course these days), will have instead found themselves faced with warnings about how they may be “committing a criminal offence” and that the consequences “are likely to be serious.” Darn cats and their humorous shenanigans.

A number of related complaints can be found via Twitter and Virgin’s Community Forum. The block appeared to be removed for a short period earlier this morning but it returned again later and we’re not sure what the status is right this moment (those we’d normally ask are only just getting out of bed).

virgin media imgur blocked

We should point out that this isn’t the first time that Imgur.com has been blocked by Virgin Media and similar incidents occurred in both 2016 and 2015. Likewise TalkTalk, Vodafone and Sky Broadband have all at some point or another blocked access to the site (here, here and here) and this is usually due to a configuration error in their filters or simply bad design.

Bugs like this have occurred for years and of course remain easy to circumvent via VPN or other methods. We have asked Virgin Media to comment.

UPDATE 8:26am

We’ve had a couple of readers saying that the block has now been resolved.

UPDATE 11:15am

A spokesperson for Virgin Media has told ISPreview.co.uk that they’re still “investigating” what happened during the early hours of this morning (it’s now resolved), although they say it appears to have been a “technical issue” with their Web Blocker system that is used to carry out requests from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

Virgin Media will only block URLs if compelled to do so through a court order or through the IWF. As matter of course Virgin Media does not carry out domain level blocking on sites reported to us by the IWF,” said the Spokesperson.

UPDATE 1:45pm

The IWF has offered some extra context.

Fred Langford, IWF Deputy CEO&CTO, said:

“A fault with Virgin Media’s filtering system was incorrectly signposting Virgin’s customers to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). We spoke to someone at Virgin who confirmed that the problem is now resolved, but because the block incorrectly pointed people to the IWF URL List, we received a few complaints which we’ve been responding to.

We never condone over blocking and we don’t carry out the blocking and filtering ourselves. We provide a list of ‘live’ child sexual abuse URLs to ISPs and filterers who block them at URL level to help stop the revictimisation of sexual abuse victims. As soon as the criminal images and videos have been removed at source, the URL is removed from our list.

It’s incredibly frustrating for us, and other companies, when services are incorrectly blocked. I’d like to reassure people that it’s not due to the IWF list.”

The IWF added that there are presently 23 URLs (at URL level NOT domain level) relating to content on Imgur on their list. The list is 6,139 URLs long today, but by later this afternoon, due to the rate that they update the list, it could be more or less than that as they have a lot coming off (and going on) once the criminal content is removed.

Add to Diigo
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar Rich

    Thanks to DoH running at home via PiHole, I didn’t even notice the block! 😀

  2. Avatar Herve Shango

    That is not an issue for me, vpnn these days does a lot of wonders

  3. Avatar Optimist

    I’m a VM customer and can access it OK.

  4. Avatar Jigsy

    Yay for DNS-over-HTTP?

  5. Avatar GreenReaper

    Agreed about DoH/DoT, but in any case – how can they block at URL level when using HTTPS? SNI only gives them the domain. Unless perhaps they’re being directed to a particular IP address for certain files?

    Judging by DNS names it seems like they’re using Fastly for the actual content, which I think is a Varnish-based caching service.

    • Avatar boggits

      Two stage cleanfeed style blocking, iwf list is used to create a poisoned list domains, any DNS request for that domain is passed to a proxy server that blocks only matching URLs and forwards rest

      Other blocking techniques are available but this scales well as long as the list is relatively small

  6. Avatar Internet Watch Foundation Watch Foundation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £20.00 (*22.00)
    Avg. Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Direct Save Telecom £22.95 (*29.95)
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Origin Broadband £23.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £23.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • SSE £23.00 (*33.00)
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited (FUP)
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2466)
  2. FTTP (2095)
  3. FTTC (1634)
  4. Building Digital UK (1575)
  5. Openreach (1381)
  6. Politics (1380)
  7. Business (1209)
  8. Statistics (1079)
  9. FTTH (1015)
  10. Mobile Broadband (1008)
  11. Fibre Optic (957)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (902)
  13. Wireless Internet (887)
  14. 4G (875)
  15. Virgin Media (843)
  16. Sky Broadband (587)
  17. EE (577)
  18. TalkTalk (566)
  19. Vodafone (497)
  20. Security (402)
New Forum Topics
»
My g.fast install
Author: GoodfellowAdam
»
»
»
FTTP questions
Author: mageous92
»
To all those with Sky
Author: timeless
Promotion
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact