o2 internet censorship

Last night, I tried to access a website using the 3G internet on my phone.

I couldn’t. Why? Turns out O2 now censor their internet traffic. Instead of presenting me with a web page, I was re-directed to another website telling me that I had not verified I was over 18 and therefore would not be allowed access to said website.

I wasn’t even on an adult website. I was on a clothing website. But because the site contained certain keywords, I’m not sure which ones, it must have picked up on that and decided the website contained material of an adult nature and therefore decided to block it.

I don’t think they should be censoring anything (they can add a parental lock-out that you can opt into if they wish, but I don’t think you should have to opt out of censorship), but even if we accept it’s fair play to automatically censor my internet usage, they know damn well that I am over 18 because you have to give them your date of birth when you sign up for your contract.

Secondly, the site they redirect you to is one called bango.net. Not o2.co.uk. This would have been a little more reassuring, but a website I’ve never heard of? I had to text my friend to check if it was legitimate. Seriously, WTF? We’re always being told to beware of phishing scams, and they companies pull shit like this. No wonder banks are constantly being defrauded when companies imply that actually we should trust these random third party domain names!

Thirdly, it turns out that bango.net is a third party company that they just use for payment processing – so O2 are effectively forcing you to give your personal details to a third party who could be doing anything with your details. The only way round this is to turn up to an O2 store with photo ID, which I would have done if it wasn’t Easter Saturday and I was no where near an O2 store.

Fourthly, you have to give a credit card to authorise it online. But this doesn’t actually prove I am over 18 because some banks will issue cards to under 18s as second card holders. So they might as well just rely on the date of birth I give them.

Finally, because of the way that they set the technical implementation up, even after I had verified with my credit card (I had to use my backup credit card as they don’t accept Amex, or indeed anything other than Visa or Mastercard, so they’re not making it easy) I still couldn’t access the website I wanted because it kept redirecting to the age verification website, which then saw I was verified and redirected to an O2 portal page. I could probably fix this by clearing my cache, but I don’t want to clear my fucking cache, my cache is there for a reason. If they had put more thought into the technical implementation they could have done it in such a way that this wouldn’t have been necessary.



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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 at 12:55 pm and is filed under Tech, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.