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Archive for November, 2014

BT Resorts to Spamming Techniques to Censor Our Internet Connection (Updatedx3)

ONE THING I’ve learned while moving between houses is that over the past few years the UK made giant leaps towards Internet censorship. I used mobile broadband while BT was transferring the connection/account from one address to another, whereupon I felt what it’s like to use mobile broadband in the UK these days (not on a phone but through a dongle, or a USB-mounted cellular modem for those who are not familiar with British terminology/slang). O2 was fine 3.5 years ago when I used it for one month, but now it is flagging as “porn” numerous important sites, including one of my sites which is basically a Free software project site, demanding that I register and prove I’m over 18 before I can access my own site, which is perfectly banal and safe for children.

BT et al. have been promoting their Internet censorship using the “think about the children” nonsense (“protect your family” and other such sentimental/emotional blackmail). After a house move (not creating a new account with BT) I was shocked to find, about 24 hours afterwards, that BT resorted to actually injecting top-level pop-ups on top of pages I was loading, even in my own site, Tux Machines. Screenshot below.

bt-censorship

BT has been told by me like a dozen times (explicitly or implicitly) that I do not need or want my Internet censored. Last week I also told them this over the telephone. Is BT’s strategy basically to nag people infinitely until everyone consents to censorship (for the children, of course!) and then the setting becomes universal, or on by default with no other option? It would certainly keep some costs down (no need to ask, just censor everywhere).

The sad thing is that it’s possible that other large ISPs in the UK may be doing the same thing, but I have not had enough experience with them to make an informed comment.

Update: So, the spam is worse than I first estimated. It follows me across pages and across sites (yes, it gets injected onto requests from many domains, excepting some like BBC and Twitter). Lots of GNU/Linux sites are having this stuff injected onto them, across different devices too (this is a dubious strategy used by rogue players). My wife reports seeing the same on her tablet when accessing different sites. So it basically keeps nagging infinitely. She pressed “no thanks” (neither green nor pink, like the pro-censorship icons) and then rather than be left alone she was taken to another page from BT. This is like a real sort of pro-censorship harassment that nobody even asked for; in fact, we asked repeatedly not to be nagged over this. The scary thing is that BT now allowed itself to modify pages that sites (not BT sites) serve to BT customers. It’s worse than spying and it opens the door to all kinds of abuse, like omission of words, injection of propaganda, ads, etc.

Update #2: There seems to be a bug in the pop-up they’re injecting to all pages. It keeps popping up even after pressing “no, thanks”. It makes the whole Internet/Web unusable unless perhaps one consents to Internet censorship. People should be up in arms against BT over this. First they modify pages and inject to them, universally, an obtrusive pop-up that covers the page and prevents interaction with the page. Then there’s the bug; Even dismissing the request for censorship does not offer a way out.

Update #3: Two weeks later (after repeatedly clicking “no, thanks”) we still have these pop-ups taking over requested pages every now and then. How many times will it take for “no” to mean no?

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