More on Site-Blocking, in the UK and Elsewhere

Last Saturday we posted about the reported blocking of Gates of Vienna by Sky, an ISP in the UK.

The post prompted a flurry of emails and comments from readers, most of them reporting that they had been blocked from accessing this site in the UK or elsewhere. Some of them, however, were from Sky users who said they had no problem seeing Gates of Vienna.

I exchanged a series of emails with a reader named Eunice who is currently residing in Portugal. She began by telling me of her difficulties there in accessing GoV:

Logging in from Lisbon. Have been experiencing total black outs of Gates of Vienna on a laptop and intermittent blocks on an iPad for the last few days. You’re up today on the iPad — for how long?

I’m currently informing myself to try to work this out, and becoming horrified with, for the first time, understanding the extent of the draconian broadband blocking that’s been instituted in the UK under Cameron, and may, by way of Thomson, have extended into Portugal. I suspect it’s the ISP (MEO [Portuguese media], a Thomson operation), but I don’t know how I can tell for sure.

She mentioned the control of MEO in Portugal by Thomson, which presumably refers to the Thomson Corporation, a media conglomerate founded in Canada by Roy Thomson (remember Lord Thomson of Fleet?). The original media portion of the company was sold to Investcorp in 2004. Investcorp is based in Bahrain, and its clients are mostly states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

I don’t know whether any of the above is significant or not. I’m not drawing any conclusions, just gathering data points as part of an effort to crowdsource the research on the current wave of site-blocking (more on that below).

The latest email from Eunice came in today:

I came across something this morning which I think you should look at. There is a site called If one enters a URL, it runs a test to determine whether or not a site is blocked in the UK. I checked for GoV. The results came back that while you are not blocked by AAISP, BT-Lite, Plusnet or Virgin Media you are blocked, by default, by Sky. This could explain why some people are claiming they’re being blocked and others aren’t.

So that’s another series of data points.

I invite readers to report on their experiences (or those of others) of having their access to Gates of Vienna blocked. Or not blocked, as the case may be.

If you want to participate in the data-gathering process, feel free to leave your report in the comments. Please include your country (plus a region or city if that is relevant), and the name of your ISP. If possible, provide an approximate time frame for when the blocking (or non-blocking) occurred.

If enough data come in, I’ll do my best to collate and aggregate all the information to see if any conclusions can be drawn.

A Final Note

Last summer Hate not Hope issued a report that exposed this blog and numerous others as “hate sites”. The report was publicized via the Grauniad and other compliant media outlets in the UK, all of which erroneously identified Gates of Vienna as “based in Britain”. This prompted six MPs (if I recall the number correctly) to call for an official investigation of our site, with the intention of shutting us down.

These woefully misinformed media people and public servants eventually discovered their error, and realized that they were dealing with a US-based site run by American citizens who defiantly proclaim their God-given right to publish what they see fit, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The furor died down after that, but did the desire to suppress Gates of Vienna disappear? It seems unlikely.

It’s possible that the push against us was redirected into a different strategy, one of persuading compliant ISPs to block us, and then pressuring, threatening, and suborning others to join the ban. At the moment I don’t have sufficient data to state that this is definitely the case, but I’d like to collect enough to find out.

45 thoughts on “More on Site-Blocking, in the UK and Elsewhere

  1. No probs with my isp, TalkTalk (UK). Eunice’s link also negative, though Sky isn’t listed.

    • This came back when I entered into the UK block checking site.

      Sky filter default blocked 2015-12-16 17:32:05 2015-12-16 17:32:05

      I am in Maryland and have no problesm

  2. Dear Baron,
    For yr. information.
    I get you loud and clear every day from West London U.K.
    I use Firefox on BTinternet.
    I would be most alarmed if any such company thought it could start to tell me who to talk to or not!
    Thank you so much for all the work you do.
    Without you and your noble ilk I would only know what the Orwellian media wanted me to.
    Merry Christmas,

    • Thank you, and thanks for including the browser. I forgot about that — it may be significant in some cases.

    • Thanks Baron, and thanks Son of Moses, for this information. I’m in the USA so I have no problem but I’d sure like to see Cameron gone. Hurrah for N.Forage.

      Merry Christmas and a (belated) Happy Hannukah,

  3. If it is of any interest, I am currently following your blog FROM Bahrain, on all major networks — both mobile and home broadband. So far, I have not any issues with access your site and other similar from your sister blogs. It is true that there are many restrictions on Internet, mostly for “violating the laws of Bahrain” and they apply easily for cancan online publications if there are any sensitive pictures posted in articles, even fashion or male oriented magazines.

    I just hope this message will not attract any ban…

  4. I’m in England on BT – and have not had any issues with access. Anyone on Sky or other ISPs having issues accessing the site should write letters of complaint. It may be possible to overturn the ban, as once happened with Pamela Geller’s blog after it was blocked by paypal.

    Btw, for comparison I checked Apparently it’s blocked on BT as well – but I have not had any issues accessing it. So perhaps it’s just a question of settings.

  5. Did the original poster not say that they could access the site after they ‘changed their settings’? (Whatever that means.)

    I don’t have any probs accessing the site straight through my ISP, when I do that from ‘the frozen north’. I also use a VPN to access the site through servers in different countries, just to confuse any would-be eavesdroppers etc.

    • Yes, I could log in to the Sky website and add GoV as a permitted site that allows me to access it through Sky now.

  6. As is a long established habit, I checked GoV this morning, first thing, and was surprised to see the home page nearly empty. The typical background and site opened as normal, but the page opened with only the words “nothing found”, as if I was searching the site’s archives for something. I tried to refresh the page, but the same “nothing found” was the result. I was out most of the day, and when I checked again, this post was up. Not sure if this has any relevance to the topic at hand, but thought to mention it, just the same.

    • Other people have reported the same thing in various countries, but I think it’s a separate issue. If you can see the header and the sidebar, the site is not being blocked. The “nothing found” message is displayed when a query for posts (in this case, all posts) comes up empty. This points to an issue within the WordPress database.

      Henrik says it looks like a “temporary peak load” problem, but we don’t know what’s causing that. Traffic has been roughly the same for the past two weeks, with no significant surges. There have been no changes to the structure of the database or site architecture. So it’s hard to tell what might be behind the occasional peak load. There are no obvious indications that we are under DoS attack.

      In other words, it remains a mystery.

  7. I’m with BT and got
    I am based in North Yorkshire.
    Of course, when you seek Stormfront, you might get a company that sells Apple products!

  8. I use Sky from London, UK & read GoV daily with no problems. I use Sky because it took over my previous ISP, not because I signed up with it. So it’s possible that for that reason it does not apply its default filter to my account. Just as well, I’d dump it if it did.

  9. I’m French, using “Free” as my ISP, never had any issues with accessing GoV (and better not). The issue could be a temporary problem with Sky DNS servers (unlikely but it happens), for people that can’t access the site here’s a guide to use Public DNS servers instead :

    I think it should work even if the ban really is intentional on Sky’s part, however I’m not sure about that. I also realize that people completely unable to access GoV can’t read this message, but I can’t do anything about that unfortunately.

  10. Actually my previous link wasn’t exactly the one I had bookmarked which is the most useful, however it helps in benchmarking what DNS servers should be fastest for you, and the tool it explains to use also checks for censorship based on DNS routing only.

    This one should be more useful in explaining how to change preferred DNS servers :

    It’s for a specific Verizon router, but you can easily deduce how to do the same things on your own specific router, otherwise just Google “how to change DNS on (insert your router model or at least your ISP name if you don’t know the exact model is).

  11. I read all this in Sweden, loud and clear…:-)

    As I was working with the Internet since 1993 as a computer engeneer, I take the freeedom to argue about the idea of “blocking” the site.
    I would rather think that there are other factors behind periodic or irregularely appearing problems.
    Those who experience empty pages:
    1. If you use Chrome as your browser, it might be an unproperly shutting down, parts of the site is residing in the cache, blocking the browser to fetch the new content.
    Flush the cache.
    2. If you get a 404 error (the page can not be reached): open a CMD window and write “nslookup“. If the name cant be resolved, you should change the default DNS server to googles Lots of broken or half broken DNS servers are out there.
    3. If you get the IP as an answer from nslookup, then do a “traceroute” and there you should see WHERE the information stops.
    That information could be the relevant to see if it’s blocked or just a technical failure occurred.
    Write it down or even better take a snapshot of it and mail it here, and let me have a look at it.

  12. I’ve been coming here fairly regularly for perhaps a year or more through Sky (near London, Firefox, PC) – never had a problem.

    It occurs to me that it might be something to do with newer Sky customers having different default settings. I must have been with Sky for five years or more and things might have changed for new subscribers, but left as they were for existing customers.

    I don’t particularly remember having to chose “safety” options but I could be wrong and they might just have been blandly presented as “protecting children” filters and I’ve forgotten.

    The only sites I have ever known for sure to be blocked by Sky have been those few download sites which have been banned for all major UK ISPs by the High Court, and nothing to do with otherwise controversial subject matter.

  13. There are a couple of tor browser apps on ipad. I sometimes use tor for PI transmissions. GOV doesn’t have a lot of videos, so tor’s adequate if you can take a bit of a speed hit.

    I’m typing this on ipad with arthritic thumbs, hence the less than Churchilian sentences.

    Srsly sky people try tor.

  14. Lugansk, luganet, Firefox. Everything’s OK. Greetings from the town that’s been hit by 50000 Ukrainian mines+rocket fire.

  15. I live in Bahrain which bans all sorts of political/’anti-religious’ content yet have no problem accessing GOV, but can’t access this site in the UAE without using a VPN. Thank you for your dedication in producing such a valuable source of information. Keep up the good work.

    • PS. I have no problem accessing GOV in Bahrain, but cannot read GQ magazine online as it is banned – go figure!!!

      • If only GQ would just add some lovely fluffy she goats…hehe .. maybe it would appear as an agricultural monthly!

  16. Dear Sir (?) Bodissey, Never any problems with BT using Firefox.

    Keep doing what you do best.

  17. I use Virgin Media to access GoV. At my home I can access it perfectly via my wi-fi, but if I switch to mobile data (3G etc) then I am redirected to a Virgin Media page. This page states that the website I am trying to visit, (GoV in this case), may be extremist in nature or have extreme content, which of course I know is not the case. I get a similar page when I use my uncle’s mobile data ( he has internet sharing so I can connect to his phone ) which has a T-Mobile header.

    • Although it does state that I can change these settings through their Parental Control page if I wish to access GoV so that I can bypass the block. I just haven’t got round to it. So it’s not all bad. ( It is obviously a default setting to block the site though )

  18. Baron, as you know I travel extensively throughout the UK, Europe and elsewhere with an iPad and/or a laptop (not on chrome) and have used a variety of WiFi/ISP connections be they private, public or commercial (coffee shops/bars/airports/hotels etc.) and have never had a problem accessing GoV.
    Rgds, S III.

  19. Here in The Netherlands, near the city of Eindhoven no problems gettin GoV.
    Using Chrome and IE and Windows 7, provider KPN Netherlands.

  20. With family in UK. Sky is service provider. I use Chrome and an addon “Browsec”. No problems at all, I turned browsec off, cleared the cache, shut down and restarted windows. Used Internet Explorer, GoV came up. Closed IE, restarted system, used Chrome without “Browsec” and GoV came up, again no problems.

    The mystery deepens.

  21. Blocking a URL by an ISP usually means taking the site out of its DNS servers, thus hiding the site’s IP address.

    The best way to get around this is to set the default DNS server to a public one like Google’s at which will bypass your ISP’s DNS servers.

    I know this sounds technical but it is simple to set up if you just google it.

  22. I have travelled the EU and US recently and have experienced no blocks except the very occasional almost never which I could always resolve. I imagine there is some kind of record somewhre anyway. It will not surprise me to one day find those surfing details right there with credit bureaux “personals and financials” also accessible to those high integrity collection types. Mind you it will cost an addition twenty dollars to access. As with the Muslim gift from mammon – many still are fast asleep. In a coma even.

  23. Dear Baron. I peruse the great stuff on GoV every day, and have not been blocked once on my pc.
    Here is the report.
    Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is ‘EE High Speed Internet’.
    If I was using Sky, it would be blocked. Here is proof –
    Sky filter default blocked 2015-12-16 17:32:05 2015-12-16 17:32:05

    However, on my mobile (cell) phone which is provided by EE, it is blocked because “the content is deemed unsuitable for under 18’s.” I am 71 years old, BTW! I can unblock it by contacting EE!

  24. I forgot to tell you, dear Baron, that I use Firefox browser – NEVER IE Explorer nor Chrome. All the best to you and your team, and Happy Christmas, too.

  25. My ISP is Virgin Media. I have never experienced blocking or restrictions for any sites…thus far!

  26. Most of the above comments seem to refer to home broadband.

    I’m with the THREE cellular network in the UK and your site is blocked because it’s classed as adult content.
    Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Elders of Zion, Sultan Kish and others are all blocked for the same reason and i have to use a VPN to get around the problem.

    • It gets even more complicated! At one location I use a “3” (Three) broadband dongle with a broadband only SIM in it. There I have no difficulty reaching any of the sites you list. If you are using a phone with data capability, I suspect the sites are caught by the “all mobile phone users are immature teenies unless proven otherwise” filters.

  27. I have no problem with Three mobile broadband (UK) with Chrome/Windows 7 using a dongle and laptop.

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