TalkTalk blocks access to LGBT website by incorrectly classifying it as ‘pornographic’

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LGBT charity London Friend says access to its website has been blocked by the internet service provider TalkTalk because it has incorrectly been classified as “pornographic”.

On Thursday, London Friend Chief Executive Monty Moncrieff told “London Friend was informed today that access to our website has been blocked by the internet service provider (ISP) TalkTalk when using their safe-search filters.

“For some reason it seems we’ve been classed as pornography! This was a concern we know many LGBT organisations had when the filter system was announced.

“We understand that parents may want to have easy control over what their children can access, but to mislabel us like this is ridiculous! Our site contains information about how LGBT people can access health support like coming out groups or safe drinking. It shouldn’t be blocked just because it’s LGBT, and it’s certainly not pornography.”

Mr Moncrieff added: “With opt-in filters about to be rolled out more widely this is a concern as LGBT people may not be able to access the support they need. It’s particularly ironic that our service is one that often supports people living with the impact of ignorance and discrimination about LGBT issues.”

In August, several LGBT charities called on the government to reconsider supporting mandatory default web blocking for ISPs as it could restrict legitimate access to non-pornographic LGBT websites – such as London Friend.

Several ISPs, including TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin, introduced web filters this year ahead of David Cameron’s endorsement of the proposal.

But according to a BBC Newsnight investigation, as well as blocking access to several non-pornographic websites, on multiple occasions the filters have allowed access to pornographic websites – thus failing in their primary aim.

TalkTalk’s filter failed to block 7% of the 68 pornographic websites tested by Newsnight.

A TalkTalk spokesman told Newsnight: “Sadly there is no silver bullet when it comes to internet safety and we have always been clear that no solution can ever be 100%. We continue to develop HomeSafe and welcome feedback to help us continually improve the service.”

A Sky spokesman said: “We know that no one single technology currently provides all the answers. That’s why we have a quick and easy way for misclassified sites to be unblocked. Any Sky home has the ability to fully customise their filters.”

A BT spokesman said: “Categorisations are constantly updated to keep pace with changing content on the internet and we will investigate any concerns and make changes as necessary. BT Parental Controls can be customised to suit each individual family’s needs.”

PinkNews has contacted TalkTalk for a response regarding the specific problems associated with access to the London Friend website.