T-Mobile’s Web Censorship Tool Accidentally Blocking Sites Not Containing Adult Material

T-Mobile’s Web Guard filter is designed to help “restrict access to adult web content on your family’s T-Mobile phones.” Sounds simple enough right? Well, according to the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), sometimes the blocking tool works a little better than it should. T-Mobile says Web Guard should restrict access for content that falls under 12 different adult categories, including alcohol, pornography, and suicide. During OONI’s testing, a number of unexpected sites were censored, including Tor Project (an anti-censorship tool), an Italian page that displayed to users blocked by Italy’s national censoring firewall, the website for Cosmopolitan magazine, a Chinese sports news website, a French economics site, a 9/11 conspiracy site, a Greek political blog, along with many others.

T-Mobile readily admits the feature isn’t perfect as its Web Guard FAQ explains the “filter is not error-free and may over-restrict or under-restrict access from the customer’s or parent’s perspective.”

T-Mobile has yet to comment on the OONI findings but we’ll update the post with any T-Mobile response.

The Verge via Boing Boing, OONI

Learn more about T-Mobile Web Guard

Tags: , , ,

  • Capitalismsucks

    Blah blah blah what a good start for Monday! Vs!

  • br

    meh. not really news. web filters are never perfect.

  • LuckOfTheIrish2012

    So who is this OONI anyways?  The only thing they’ve got on their website is this article.  Are they credible?

    • Psaux

      Credible or not, the chat transcript seems to indicate either a lack of understanding on their part or a tendency towards wanting this to be a sensational issue (when it isn’t).

      Most of those sites wouldn’t be blocked on the basis of hosting content themselves, but rather that are likely recorded as linking to such content due to forum posts, comment links, etc…

      As for TOR, yeah, that really IS something you wouldn’t want your kids using.  Whole lotta stuff out there in TOR land that’s nasty on almost anybody’s terms, however much the hacktivist crowd might like to claim it’s just about privacy.

  • Gouv

    All this for the sake of blocking little johnny from looking at boobies…. What parents should be worried about is social networking and the bullying and sick wacko pervs on it that lure kids in…  Pics of boobies are harmless in comparison.    Now they’ve just gone and ruined the Internets for all the little johnny’s out there.

  • Cameron Stark

    Simple fix:  If your child is too young or immature to visit such sites, don’t buy them a smartphone!