10 Websites Britain Blocked By Accident (But Blame Their Filters)

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Ambiguously-worded and vague laws have caused a lot of trouble in many countries throughout history.

Legislation that uses vague and imprecise language is a powerful and dangerous tool in the wrong hands and can be twisted to punish innocent people.

One example of a law used beyond its original purpose was the United States’ Comstock Act of 1873, which prohibited the sending any “article of an immoral nature” through the mail. In effect, the law was used to prosecute anyone who distributed contraceptives, or information about family planning.

During World War I, while British and German soldiers were given condoms by their governments, American soldiers were advised to practice abstinence since the distribution of condoms was banned. Unsurprisingly, within two years, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers were diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases, and it cost the United States over $50 million to treat them.

Today, there are many more examples of ambiguous laws that have been twisted to prosecute all kinds of innocuous actions.

This is partly due to modern technology developing at a faster rate than legislation. The result is that judges must apply outdated laws to completely new situations, as the slow-moving machine of legislation struggles to keep up with the changing times.

Unfortunately, this also means that some may err on the side of caution when they don’t completely understand the technology behind the circumstances.

Take Britain as an example. In trying to protect citizens online, regulators actually ended up banning websites with content related to equal rights, controversial political opinions, and even information about sexual health.

History has shown us the consequences of blocking vital information like this, yet we’re still making the same mistakes.

Check out this list of sites that were accidentally banned in Britain.

10 Websites Britain Blocked infographic

Transcript of above graphic: 10 Websites Britain Blocked

Nearly one in five of the most visited websites on the web were blocked by the adult content filters installed on Britain's broadband and mobile networks, according to the Open Rights Group. However, it wasn't just porn that was blocked as filters blocked anything considered “potentially harmful.”

Here are 10 websites that British content filters blocked for having “adult content” that should never have been censored.

  1. Jezebel

    Dedicated to women's interests, Jezebel's tagline is “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing.”

  2. Jezebel is one of several blogs owned by Gawker Media.
  3. Gawker Media also owns:
  4. Gawker.com
  5. Deadspin
  6. Lifehacker
  7. Gizmodo
  8. io9
  9. Kotaku
  10. Jalopnik
  • Guido Fawkes

    A British political blog whose slogan is “tittle tattle, gossip, and rumors about Westminster's Mother of Parliaments written from the perspective of the only man to enter parliament with honest intentions. The intention being to blow it up with gunpowder…”

  • Guido Fawkes is run by editor Paul Staines
  • In 2007, The Telegraph described the blog as “one of Britain's leading political blogsites.”
  • When he found out the blog was censored in the UK, Paul Staines is reported to have said, “We would really appreciate it if TalkTalk would remove us from their block list. The only people who block us are them and the Chinese government.”