Businesses and customers affected by O2 blocking websites
Yesterday 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.