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 blocked.org.uk. 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.