Operators hailed as ‘pioneers’ in blocking illegal websites


ISPs need to follow the example set by mobile operators and ‘catch up’, Vodafone claims

Mobile operators claim they are leading the way in preventing under-18s from accessing adult websites as well as blocking sites containing illegal content such as child pornography.

The subject has been to the fore in recent months, with Prime Minister David Cameron challenging internet companies and providers in the UK to do more to tackle the issue.

Vodafone, O2 and EE told Mobile News they are confident their measures are effective and ISPs need to follow their lead and “catch up”.


Blocking filters are separated into two categories: child abuse and age-inappropriate content.

All operators, excluding Three on contract, restrict access to legal adult material on their networks, be it prepay or contract by default.

These restrictions can only be removed at the bill payer’s request or, on prepay, by giving credit card details – although the user is not charged for this.

Three told Mobile News it does, however, plan to introduce a default block on adult material for its contract customers within the next 12 months.

Child pornography

All UK operators have signed up to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a self-regulatory body and charity which helps telecoms companies prevent the circulation of child pornography hosted online.

The IWF told Mobile News operators are “pioneers” of this form of prevention and are doing “everything they can” to reduce its circulation.

The body sends out lists of UK-hosted websites to ISPs, which are then typically removed within an hour of the notification.

The operators also engage with the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) to identify and block dangerous sites as well as address
emerging issues.

A Vodafone spokesperson said: “ISPs need to catch up with the mobile industry. Vodafone has always made blocking the default option and we’re in a good position because we have had our filters in place for a long time and we also use the IWF list, but that’s standard.”
An EE spokesperson added: “In the mobile world we believe that our network filtering offers customers a high level of protection based on the most advanced categorisation and filtering solutions available.”