Open Rights Group Claims Almost 40% of Sites are Blocked in Error by the UK

By Tom Pritchard on at

It's no secret that the UK does a lot of court-ordered site blocking, usually in the name of preventing piracy. Because of the fairly haphazard approach to having those blocks implemented, the Open Rights Group has taken to monitoring the list of sites blocked by ISPs, or at least as much as it can manage, and found that 37 per cent of sites are blocked in error.

ORG has added a new tool to the project, which has typically been used to call out websites that have been erroneously blocked by ISP filters. This one examines 1,000 websites blocked by 30 court injunctions that have targeted 150 services. According to its findings 37 per cent of sites have either been blocked, or have no legal basis for restricted access. According to ORG the majority of them are either parked domains, or are no longer in operation.

Unfortunately it's impossible to tell how accurate the results are, since the ISP block list is estimated to include some 2,500 domains and isn't made available to the public. ORG has criticised that last fact, since secrecy makes it impossible to properly check for errors. It points out that if sites are erroneously blocked, ISPs simply suggest taking the matter to court.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group said:

“It is not acceptable for a legal process to result in nearly 40% maladministration. These results show a great deal of carelessness. We expect ISPs and rights holders to examine our results and remove the errors we have found as swiftly as possible.

We want ISPs to immediately release lists of previously blocked domains, so we can check blocks are being removed by everyone. Rights holders must make public exactly what is being blocked, so we can be ascertain how else these extremely wide legal powers are being applied."