Today, the Media Policy Project is co-publishing an Open Rights Group report on mobile Internet filtering in the UK. Looking into the filtering practices of mobile ISPs, the ORG report lays out four key points and recommendations:
1. Mobile Internet censorship mechanisms suffer from over-blocking, a lack of transparency and problems correcting mistakes.
2. Filtering systems designed to give parents a way to manage their children’s access to the mobile Internet actually affect many more users than intended and block many more sites than they should.
3. To fix this, mobile operators need to offer an ‘active choice’, be far more transparent and open, and provide easier ways to correct mistakes.
4. More broadly, the lessons from mobile filtering suggest that fixed-line Internet filtering should concentrate on users and devices rather than networks, be properly described as ‘parental controls’ and above all involve an ‘active choice’, not be set by default.
Decisions involving internet filtering, blocking and censorship are nearly always contested. Two recent examples, the blocking in the UK of The Pirate Bay and the debate over how to minimize children’s exposure to online pornography, prove no exception.
Mobile filtering is especially problematic. As mobile hardware becomes more complex and mobile network access increases, the impact of these implementations of filtering will spread to more users.
Our intention is that this report inspires some debate and serious thought about these issues, so we will also be posting responses to the report in the coming days. If you have an opinion on the issue of mobile internet filtering, let us know in the comments.