The EU Doesn't Want ISPs Blocking Porn or Adverts

By Tom Pritchard on at

If you were to ask anyone about the kind of content that gets blocked online, adverts should definitely come up. Porn probably will as well, but for totally different reasons. In a bit of good and bad news, the EU has ruled that ISPs aren't allowed to block either of those things at a network level.

Apparently doing that is in breach of network neutrality rules published by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC). In fact there are only three reasons the EU lets ISPs block stuff at a network level: security reasons, to comply with a country's laws, and to manage network traffic.

Before anyone goes a bit mental, this isn't the EU trying to take away your adblockers. All it's saying is that blocking content should be a user decision, and sorted out on their own machines. The problems arise when the network rolls out a blanket block for everyone, without them the option of opting in or out.

So these rules don't apply to former-PM David Cameron's crusade against porn, nor does it apply to the network-level ad-blocking trialled by Three earlier this year. Those both let the user decide what happens on their own devices, rather than letting internet providers decide for them.

Blocking porn is a bit of a grey area, since there is no real legal framework in place, and ISPs have implemented the filters to protect themselves. Family friendly filters are permitted under EU guidelines, but it's been made clear that it has to be done on a device-per-device basis.

OFCOM has announced that it will be monitoring compliance with the rules, and will investigate any complaints based on its own interpretation of the rules. Obviously if and when the UK leaves the EU, these rules will likely stop applying to us. What happens then isn't totally clear. We all know what happens if they try and take away our access to porn, though. [The Guardian via The Next Web]

Image: Rock Cohen/Flickr