Sharing Negligent Blocking…Torrent Freak reports on crap ISP blocking algorithms as applied to file sharing websites

Posted: 4 January, 2014 in Internet Blocking
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sky blocked messageUK Prime Minister David Cameron wants all Internet providers to block adult content by default, to protect the children. This filtering requirement is controversial for a number of reasons, not least due to ISPs’ filters targeting a wide range of other content too. Sky’s newly launched Broadband Shield, for example, blocks numerous legitimate file-sharing related sites including uTorrent and, download portals for Linux distributions, and even TorrentFreak.While most of the discussion has focused on porn, Sky’s filter — and those operated by other ISPs — actually block a much wider range of content.  Sky’s The 13-years-old-and-over setting is ticked by default, which also includes dating, anonymizers, file-sharing and hacking.

In other words, those customers who don’t opt out from the ‘porn filter will also have file-sharing sites and services blocked. A quick round on the internet reveals that this category is rather inclusive, and not limited to pirate sites.

Among the blocked sites are, who work with Madonna and other artists on a regular basis to release free-to-download content. The same is true for other BitTorrent clients including uTorrent, Transmission and Vuze. Tribler , which is developed at Delft University of Technology with EU taxpayer money, is filtered as well.

Websites which offer perfectly legitimate content via P2P downloads are also filtered by Sky’s default settings. This includes VODO , the distribution platform for indie filmmakers, the download page of the Linux-based Fedora, as well as the download portal Linuxtracker .

In addition, several websites that merely write news about file-sharing issues are blocked by the filter too, including TorrentFreak .

TorrentFreak spoke with the Open Rights Group (ORG), who have been very critical of the filtering schemes in the UK. According to Executive Director Jim Killock, Sky is not the only problem here, as other UK ISPs employ overbroad blocking schemes, including the older mobile network filters. To find out what is being blocked exactly, ORG has been building its own checking tools , as well as a website where false positives can be reported.

Whether anything can be done against the overblocking and false positives that are reported remains to be seen. For now all legitimate file-sharing services and sites remain blocked, including the article you are reading right now.


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