Businesses and customers affected by O2 blocking websites

4 March 2011

Bitterwallet - O2 FAILYesterday we broke the story that O2 had started imposing age verification on mobile browsing, without telling any of its customers. In fact, O2 only published a blog post about the new policy after they imposed it. Now people are beginning to realise what's happened, there's not much love out there for the service provider.

O2 are simply telling customers it's all in the interests of children, but there are so many issues that it's getting a little silly:

• because O2 didn't tell anyone they'd starting blocking websites, plenty of people seem to think the age verification is a scam, especially since one option that appears is a third party website that requires credit card details

• O2 are seemingly blocking plenty of sites that aren't sensitive in any way shape or form, such as car websites, while start-up company Lovefresh has seen its business decimated because O2 are blocking their app - and in a week when Apple are highlighting their app on the front page of the App Store

• websites are only blocked via 3G, meaning a child at home can still view any of the blocked sites at home over WiFi

• in a further fit of unhelpfulness, O2 are claiming none of this is their fault, and telling customers to check with the IMCB, which is seemingly is responsible for deciding which websites are being restricted - the IMCB website hasn't been updated since 2005

Then there's this, from the O2 blog:

Yes, you have to be over 18 to sign a Pay Monthly contract with O2. However we know that many parents take out Pay Monthly contracts for their children, so it’s not safe to assume that all Pay Monthly phones are actually being used by adults on a day to day basis.

It's certainly true that some parents take out contracts for children, but certainly not all of them, and certainly not all customers are parents to begin with. Surely a better way would have been optional opt-in to age verification, rather than mandatory and without warning?

The whole thing is a mess, one that could have been avoided had O2 applied a shred of common sense. If you've stumbled upon a non-adult website that has been restricted anyway, please let us know in the comments - we'd be interested to see just how many sites (and businesses) have been affected.


  • brian
    so can we cancel our contract?
  • Ali
    How many parents take out business contracts for their children tho?????
  • Phil76
    Seems to be a bit hit and miss with gambling websites. gets blocked but takes you to their own app download page. Not gonna download it to check but seems odd you can even get that far
  • martin
    i use a fantasyfootball site regularly and that was blocked. doesn't even make sense to ban under 18 year olds from it.
  • Kim
    They blocked my phone from going on to, then has the cheek to say that i have to either have a credit card or go into the shop to tell their YOUNG staff that im over 18!
  • FFS
    Their young staff aren't trying to access age restricted content though. So it's irrelevant to point that out.
  • Kim
    maybe not, however the website i was trying to access isnt a age restircted thing. all the stories on their are marked with age ratings and the vast majority are marked teen and under.
  • brian
    johnnie Walker website is blocked. Grr wanted to look at some bottles of whiskey!
  • hippy
    o2 should go F@*K themselves and stop messing with peoples freedom. People didnt sign up to them for a nanny telling them what to do, but to provide a telecommunications service at a fair price. Its up to the parents of the children wether they want thier kids looking at 18+ websites or not, and if they have a contract phone or not. Its not O2's responsability at all and should never be.
  • Terry blocked Horse racing is not just about gambling (although that's why I use it). You can be an apprentice jockey at 16, plus there is news and bloodstock information so its madness. You can't actually bet on the racingpost site anyway - if you click to strike a bet, you are taken to the bookmakers website. Interestingly, the bet365 mobile site is up (sshhh)
  • klingelton
    ok - i'm not siding with o2 per se, however it's up to them how they run their network. One thing i would agree with though is that these changes shouldn't be applied retrospectively, but to new contracts only. Customers have the option of voting with their feet, and it really isn't that much effort to get the whole thing unlocked. I do agree that it shouldn't be up to o2 to police pamela's tits, (do kids even look at pamela "in that way" any more) however o2 have chosen to take the moral high ground and opt in to looking at smut. @hippy - they're not messing with your freedom, they're just making you jump through a hoop before you can enjoy it.
  • [email protected]
    Thanks for flagging some websites which shouldn’t be blocked or have any restriction including car website Jalopnik,, etc. The internet is huge and no filtering system is perfect so we’re currently looking into these websites as mentioned above and once reviewed they’ll be removed from 18+ classifications soon. @Martin – Can you post the exact fantasyfootball site, so we can review it? Thanks Abs
  • Dave
    How about ? Are you joking? Where the hell did you create your whitelist of sites? Just block everything then await a complaint until you unblock something? Certainly the way it seems. Either way, I'm sincerely interested to know if this farce and change in my service without prior warning is sufficient enough faffing to allow me to cancel my contract... even if only to change my number to PAYG, I resent paying £35 per month to be messed about.
  • DGK
    It must say something when O2 realise how much they've fucked up and have to send a PR monkey trawling the web to "fight back" on news sites and blog comments. Bit pathetic really.
  • SPeedY_B
    How about ? Are you joking ? Where the hell did you create your whitelist of sites? Just block everything then await a complaint until you unblock something? Certainly the way it seems. Either way, I'm sincerely interested to know if this farce and change in my service without prior warning is sufficient enough faffing to allow me to cancel my contract... even if only to change my number to PAYG, I resent paying £35 per month to be messed about.
  • [email protected]
    "How about ? Are you joking ?" Isn't it obvous? A child might use vthis and find some bad words or phrases. Phrases such as "vigoruż daħħal kuntratt isperma-mtebbgħin tiegħek sa passaġġ anali tiegħek" or "qəti şəkildə daxil edin anal keçid up sizin meni-ləkələnmiş müqavilə" or even chèn mạnh tinh dịch hợp đồng của bạn dính lên thông qua hậu môn của bạn.
  • jinky
    I agree this has been a pita, so I phoned O2 yesterday from my mobile (202) and complained, the lady took my details and sent off a form to have the block lifted. I got a text today to say it had been done and after restarting my phone all was well. No real hassle, no cost (the 202 is free).
  • Burt
    Just not sure this is the way I want a company I have a contract with to behave. I'm not against filters to protect children, but it should be an opt-in facility for customers already under contract and an opt-out for new customers. Whatever they decide to do, they should contact me and allow me to opt out without having to pay them money through a dodgy website.
  • bob
    How the fuck are the little kids going to jerk off to pornhub videos now o2 have blocked them? Cunts.
  • Zleet
    I'm 31 and I really don't want to have to go into an O2 shop or ring someone just to ask "Can I have titties back on my phone please?".
  • Charlie c. has been blocked which I think is unfair because it renders my account useless, it's a load of bull if you ask me, most of the stories on there are written by talented kids under the age of 18 and it's basically denying us from reading our own stories that we have written, if we can't use it on our phones then there isn't a reason to get an iPhone on O2 if most of the good websites are blocked.
  • Joff
    Any ideas how this affects network operators that buy into O2, such as Giff Gaff?
  • Berie
    Our website which allows people/webmasters to create money making social networking and dating sites in seconds has been blocked. This is ino way an over 18s site. Looks like they are blocking anything which has a whiff of online dating, even the b2b sites!
  • Taking B.
    [...] we can’t piss and moan at operators about how we’re all grown-ups when they introduce mandatory age verification on browsing, then protest when we choose to ignore numerous warnings and several years of marketing and media [...]

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