At least one ISP in the UK has taken it upon themselves to ban alternative news websites from their mobile network – without a court order.
Mobile operator O2 has blocked access to at least two alternative news websites, including RINF and What Really Happened.
Outrageously, O2 customers who attempt to view these websites are greeted with a pay-wall demanding they confirm their age through a £1 credit card charge.
According to a recent study, 28% of UK adults now access the Internet via a mobile phone.
Customers have been up in arms about increasing levels of O2 censorship for years, and have complained on the companies support forum. One poster said:
“Is that some kind of scam? If it’s O2 really doing this, is such censorship even legal outside China!?”
Both alternative news websites are listed as “hate” sites.
RINF News blocked and listed as a hate site:
What Really Happened also blocked and listed as a hate site:
But this is not the first time O2 has been accused of censoring websites.
The network also blocked access to Torproject.org, which allows users to protect their privacy and surf the web anonymously.
In 2010, O2 blocked access to image hosting site, IMGUR, but quickly reversed the decision when Internet users complained.
At the time an O2 spokesperson said:
“The technology behind the service is more far reaching than anticipated and on occasion a site which should not be blocked may be.”
Speaking to RINF about the censorship, an O2 employee stated:
“It [RINF] shouldn’t be blocked. Tell your friends and family to click continue to change the policy. The more request the sooner it’ll be unblocked.”
This seems to be the only way to get O2 to investigate, and possibly reverse the decision.
Telefónica, which owns O2 and has been accused of running a global monopoly on communications, has received several fines due to convictions over unfair competition, abuse of its position as dominant provider, and antitrust violations through the Commission of Telecommunications, European Commission, and Spanish tribunals.
To send a message to O2 and to reverse the decision they’ve made to block alternative media, follow these quick steps:
Go to http://urlchecker.o2.co.uk - type in http://rinf.com, http://whatreallyhappened.com & other sites you support, then click continue.
When you see “If you think this website needs a different policy” click continue.
If you run a blog or website, check your URL to see if you’ve been blocked, if you have then contact me and I will help you to get the word out.