Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Update: Extent of EE's blocking of pro-Israel websites has got MUCH worse


On 3 August I reported on EE's censoring and blocking of pro-Israel websites on its UK Mobile network, while placing no such restrictions on any vicious anti-Israel sites (Update: those on the EE network whose contracts are still with TMobile rather than EE are apparently not affected). Despite having sent several emails to different departments in EE and a letter to Olaf Swantee ( the EE CEO) I have not even received an acknowledgement. And today I can confirm that things have got much worse. It is beyond doubt that a campaign of anti-Israel discrimination is taking place (Update: apparently the problem is also on the Virgin network; EE and Virgin are presumably all using the same 3rd party provider for the content lock system, which is clearly being gamed by antisemites determined to suppress pro-Israel views on the internet).

Here is what I discovered using EE 3G and 4G mobile network on an iphone with all the default security settings:

The following very popular and important sites are now blocked* whereas they were NOT previously
 The following sites were previously blocked and remain blocked:

  • My own site Edgar Davidson (UPDATE 28 August 2015: as of today EE have unblocked my site following my direct complaint to safeguard@ee.co.uk, but the others remain blocked as specified. I expect the situation to continue to be very fluid as the 'other side' is continually reporting our sites as 'abuse')
  • Daphne Anson
  • Israpundit
  • The Religion of Peace
  • Bare Naked Islam 
 The following sites were previously blocked but are now unblocked (there was just one I could find):

I also checked to see if there was any change in the status of the anti-Israel websites. All of those previously tried remain unblocked including my own (satirical) but blatantly antisemitic 'twin alternative'  blog Free Palestine Now. But this time I tried many more and, as before, I could not find a single anti-Israel site (no matter how inflammatory) that was censored by EE. This included sites like bdsmovement.net and one with the web address antiisrael.blogspot.co.uk/  called "End Israeli Apartheid" -  all of them opened without problem. I even discovered that the Facebook community page "Death to America & Israel" opened fine in the web browser (because of * I knew that it would open in the Facebook app). But this triggered the most astonishing finding of all.

Just 30 seconds earlier I had checked to see if my own Facebook community page Edgar81 opened OK in the browser. And, in contrast to "Death to America & Israel" page which opened straight away, what I got was a security check (something I've never seen before) as shown in the screenshots below.

Apart from the removal of the one pro-Israel - IsraellyCool - from the blacklist the only other good news to report is that I did manage to find a handful of genuinely insightful pro-Israel sites that were not blocked, namely:
As I have had no response from EE and as there is now even more clearly a campaign of discrimination by the UK's largest telecoms company against those who support Israel, I shall be asking the Board of Deputies to do their job and intervene on this one....

 *Sultan Knish and Elder of Ziyon are interesting in that the mobile blog version appears OK but I get blocked when I select "View web version" on each. You can also get into some of the blocked sites including my own if you go via a Twitter (and sometimes FaceBook) link rather than by entering the web address in the browser. However, in all case you then you get blocked if you select the "view web version".

See also:

10 comments:

TruthHurts287 said...

I use ee mobile broadband... yes a number of websites are blocked for content but normally turning off content lock sorts it out.

I agree that they seem rather hypocritical in who they block.

One other point, there was a perdiod of some weeks when ee kept setting my content lock to block AFTER each time I has set it to unblock.

BDF said...

Co-incidence to read this posting. I am visiting from Israel in UK using a SIM card from the O2 network (different from EE). I clicked on a link on the elder blog on my phone whilst on 3G today and got a page asking me to prove my age over 18. The verification process costs £1 via credit card. Over WIFI all OK.

For comparison electronicintifada.net isn't blocked. Nor is a gambling website or adult content website that I checked (the latter purely for scientific purposes of course...)

The Uk has a regulator called OFCOM who might be interested in this.

ronnie b said...

As previously discussed, still no content locks on T-Mobile owned by EE, but have since confirmed your findings using wife's Samsung on EE 4G. I thought O2, like T-Mobile was a 3G sub of EE, so BDF's findings suggest that maybe EE haven't yet attacked T-Mobile, must be any time soon? It's all very disturbing and wonder now about other networks? Is this disgraceful practice unique to EE?

Edgar Davidson said...

Ronnie b: I've been told it is the same with Virgin

Lawrence said...

Edgar, you expect the Jewish Board of Deputies to do something? You think? Well maybe they will surprise me and actually show some backbone here, let's see. As BDF writes, there is the regulator, but you know who knows how far the rot goes...

ronnie b said...

oops, I had confused O2 with Orange which is an EE sub. looks likely that the mobile industry as a whole utilises third parties to identify sites for blocking subject to each user's own content lock settings. Thus the prejudice may not rest directly with EE, rather its reliance on third parties. viz this excerpt from voluminous Wikipedia research. Guidelines published by the Independent Mobile Classification Body were used by mobile operators to classify sites until the British Board of Film Classification took over responsibility in 2013.[113] Classification determines whether content is suitable for customers under 18 years old.[114] The default assumption is that a user is under 18.

The following content types must be blocked from under 18's:[114]

Suicide, Self-harm, Pro-Anorexia and eating disorders
Discriminatory language
Encouragement of Drug Use
Repeated / aggressive use of 'cunt'
Pornography Restrictions
Violence and Gore restrictions
Significant overblocking of Internet sites by mobile operators is reported, including the blocking of political satire, feminism and gay content.[115] Research by the Open Rights Group highlighted the widespread nature of unjustified site blocking.[116] In 2011 the group set up Blocked.org.uk, a website allowing the reporting of sites and services that are 'blocked' on their mobile network.[117][118] The website received hundreds of reports[119] of the blocking of sites covering blogs, business, internet privacy and internet forums across multiple networks. The Open Rights Group also demonstrated that correcting the erroneous blocking of innocent sites can be difficult. No UK mobile operator provides an on-line tool for identifying blocked websites. The O2 Website status checker[120][121] was available until the end of 2013 but was suspended in December[122] after it had been widely used to determine the extent of overblocking by O2.[123] Not only were civil liberties and computing sites being blocked,[124] but also Childline, the NSPCC, the Police.

Anonymous said...

It might be blocked at the browser level rather than at the provider level. Did you try accessing with a different browser?

Stan

Edgar Davidson said...

Stan: yes - the article says that if you open via a twitter link or facebook link it is not normally blocked and that there are difference when it is opened in the mobile and full web browser.

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Rob said...

o2 have reinstated this block as 18+ content. Apparently the BBFC have changed their mind again after previously reversing their decision to flag these sites as 18+ content. I have complained to o2 who gave a standard response about BBFC calssifying it as hate speech. I have now contacted BBFC. You can do so to at http://www.bbfc.co.uk/what-classification/mobile-content/appeals but you must complain to your network first:
imescalations@o2.com
safeguard@ee.co.uk