It is the year 1984…

Modern western societies like to claim that they allow freedom of expression, most even have it written down as a basic right in their constitution. Yet when it comes to the Internet this right often seems to be ignored in the name of “protecting the children” or “the fight against terrorism”.

Recently I went shopping for a new mobile data plan. As a proud owner of an Android smartphone my primary application would be mobile Internet. I rarely make phone calls, but to get any meaningful amount of data allowance most mobile operators seem to also shove voice plans down my throat. I was very delighted to learn that Hutchison 3G offers 500 MB for 5€ per month on prepay. I already had their SIM from some earlier experiments, so I topped up by 10€ and bought the 5€ data addon. Unfortunately it turns out that this did not give me access to the Internet.

I realized that many Internet sites are blocked on H3G’s service. None of the problematic sites contain adult or illegal content. During a call to their customer support they admitted that some sites are blocked on their service and that there is no way to unblock them. They were were careful to say that it is not H3G that is blocking the specific sites in question, it is the “Internet Watch Foundation”.

Wikipedia throws up some interesting facts about the IWF. It is based in the UK and is a registered charity. It offers an online service to report Internet content that is considered to be “potentially illegal”. Wait, what? Let me get that straight, a UK-based charity is blocking “potentially illegal” content in Ireland.

My only solution for now is to simply boycott H3G and their censored service. But I fear that George Orwell was right. We don’t live in 2011, we live in 1984.

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