Back in July last year we wrote about how the government was forcing ISPs to censor the Internet and how it could affect your website . Now that these filters have come into place for new users it’s easy to see the harm that is being caused, and could easily befall your business.
You might remember that we talked to our MP, John Glen, about this and that he said he would see what was being done to ensure that innocent businesses and individuals were not inadvertently punished for no fault of their own and find out what recourse they would have to remedy the situation. To date he has not got back to us.
At the moment it seems that nearly 20% of all websites are being censored by at least one ISP.
ChildLine, a charity to protect the very children the censorship was supposed to help was blocked in December . ChildLine was in the fortunate position of being a well-known national charity so the blocking was discovered quickly and the ensuing public outcry ensured it was remedied fairly quickly.
Do you suppose the national press will come to aid your business if it is censored? Most likely it won’t, which will leave you to fight against ISPs to get your site reinstated, and calls to them so far seem to have been met with confusion as their staff do not understand how to fix the issue.
What’s the danger to me?
If an ISP decides to block your site they will not let you know, and unless you use that ISP or a customer who already has your phone number or email address (as they won’t be able to look it up anymore) tells you you’re unlikely to know you’re being censored.
The majority of businesses reading this may assume they will not be affected, but that’s simply not the case. Even if your business is nothing to do with an adult industry the computers as an ISP could easily flag up your site and censor it. This has already happened to numerous businesses, charities and even churches! Surprised? Just read some of the stories on blocked.org.uk to see how innocent businesses and charities are already being punished for this ridiculous law.
Working towards a solution
The web design team at Webbed Feet UK have been helping the Open Rights Group to help people identify if their website is being censored and provide guidance for how to approach ISPs to get their site unblocked. The result of this is the site now at blocked.org.uk.
Using this site you can quickly check a site to see if it is blocked, or has been in the past. And, most importantly, it will allow you to enter your email address if it ever notices your site is blocked in the future it will let you know.
At the moment the filters are being applied to new customers, but the plan is to force them onto all broadband consumers in the near future. When this happens your site could easily become invisible to users of one or more ISPs. Could you imagine if your site was inaccessible to everyone using BT or Virgin at the whim of a computer program, or because one of the hundreds of people you share your web server with gets blocked?
If you are concerned, please contact one of our Salisbury-based web designers.