Church Site Blocked By Mobile Networks, Classified Under 'Alcohol'

from the demon-drink dept

Against a background of the UK government teetering on the brink of imposing an opt-out Web filter “for the children”, here’s yet another example of how automatic categorization of sites for blacklists gets it wrong, as recounted by the UK’s Open Rights Group (ORG):

someone used to tell us about another church (St. Mark’s in Southampton) that is blocked — this time on [the mobile operator] Vodafone. We have confirmed that it is also blocked by Orange. The site is blocked on O2’s highest blocking setting, but not on their ‘default safety’ service.

Using O2’s very handy ‘URL checker’, we have established that they classify the site as ‘alcohol’. It is likely that this is the category that has led to its blocking on other networks, but this is not confirmed.

So why might a church be classed alongside sinful purveyors of alcoholic beverages? ORG has a suspicion:

It is likely that the reason for this categorisation is the use of the word ‘wine’ on the church’s website. The church is part of the ‘New Wine Network of Churches’. Their website explains that this means they “have the aim of ‘Equipping Churches to see Jesus’ Kingdom Grow'”. Their use of the word ‘wine’ is not related to selling or the use of alcohol.

Although it seems that the site has now been unblocked, that’s only because it was “manually reviewed”. As ORG points out:

It’s yet another example of how internet filters make simple and costly mistakes which often result in ‘over-blocking.’ Our report from May this year collected more examples of this. Since then we have seen political parties, technology news websites, and more recently a number of maternity health sites all blocked by mobile networks. It can be tricky and slow to get sites removed from block lists (although mobile networks say this is improving).

That last point is important. No system is perfect, and errors will always be made. But what matters is how quickly the mistakes are corrected. Unfortunately, the evidence so far is that not only are such automated filters unreliable when it comes to evaluating sites, but the correction mechanisms are pretty awful too — a worrying combination.

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Comments on “Church Site Blocked By Mobile Networks, Classified Under 'Alcohol'”

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John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Given that Hitler wrapped his movement squarely in Christianity, you should leave him off that list regardless of whatever his personal views may or may not have been.

Also, atheism isn’t a religious belief. There is no “atheist” dogma that can be used to unify, unite, and motivate people to do things, either good or bad.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Atheism is a religious belief

Not sorry to burst ye bubble.

Atheism is a religious belief as it deals with a belief in the existence of god, gods or god-like phenomena. It denies the existence but still discusses the subject. The actions and dogmas of atheist groups worldwide are religious in that they are used to unite, unify and motivate people to do things in relation to the subjects covered by any religious subject.

Many atheists that I have seen getting involved in the subjects relating to religious are as pig-headed, illogical, violent, uncouth, etc as the ones they are claiming are that who support religion in any form.

if you have ever actually studied Nazism that Hitler was the little tin-god of, you would realise that Christianity was anathema to the movement. He certainly knew how to wrap Nazism up as a religious experience, but the god he focussed on was himself not Jesus Christ.

So we can remove him from the atheist group if you like but only because he was Nazism’s god.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Atheism is a religious belief

I think making yourself the supreme admired leader doesn’t make you ‘god’ – there is no evidence of Hitler expecting people to worship him.

The trouble with religious thinking is that it paints everything as religious. Atheism is not and cannot be a religion. Otherwise I have a ‘religion’ of not believing in the Easter Bunny. And you may have a ‘religion’ of not believing in Islam. Just because it is a ‘belief’ doesn’t make it a religion – otherwise all lotteries and gambling are religion! So atheism is a ‘religion’ in the same way that bald is a hair colour.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Atheism is a religious belief

Atheism is a religious belief

This is incorrect by definition. As the saying goes, calling atheism a religious belief is like calling baldness a hair color.

To not believe in something that there is no evidence for is not a matter of faith. It’s basic logic.

Many atheists that I have seen getting involved in the subjects relating to religious are as pig-headed, illogical, violent, uncouth, etc as the ones they are claiming are that who support religion in any form.

Some atheists are dicks, this is true — atheists are humans too, after all, and suffer all the virtues and foilables that come with that. However, this is completely unrelated to whether or not atheism is a religious belief.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Eh, why? It doesn’t matter one bit if you know how to make a bomb if you can’t get the materials to do so.

Besides, how to make a bomb hasn’t been a secret for a very long time. Detailed instructions have been publicly available since before the internet existed (often at your library). What difference does it make if it’s censored from the web?

Anonymous Coward says:

Account based filtering almost makes sense on mobile networks, as the devices are personal, but it makes little sense on home connections where multiple users are behind the same connection. The problem is that the filtering tends to be all or nothing, and therefore can’t deal with differences in what should be allowed for different people on the same connection.
Given that mobile devices are locked down, they could do the filtering, which would also avoid the simple bypass of finding an open WIFI connection, with no filtering. Surely some means can be set up so that parents can control their children?s mobile devices, and they should be responsible for any filtering on a home connection, with the router providing the filtering, and even acting as an account based prosy server to allow different filtering for different people and children in the house.
With this approach, anybody can filter the Internet to suite their own tastes and family requirements. However those who shout loudest for filtering are offended if other people can access material that they find offensive, and will tgru to get ISP based filtering tailored to their tastes and morals.
Filtering under control of the individual, or parents, does not count as censorship, ISP based filtering is censorship, and will make mistakes that it is difficult for the individual to rectify.

Patrick (profile) says:

FYI the term “new wine” is a reference to a statement Jesus made in the New Testament that you don’t put new wine in an old stretched-out wineskin or else it will break. This itself was an analogy for the differences between Christianity and the old rituals of Judaism.

That church may or may not serve wine for Communion, but that’s not what the “new wine” reference is talking about.

The Old Man in The Sea says:

Re: Bad Speech ..................

Everyone has their own pet peeves. As has been said many times, you need to watch out for what you wish for, you may just get it.

I don’t necessarily want to listen to or read a lot of the views expressed by others (since I am opposed to such views), but what they believe is up to them – they have responsibility for their choices.

I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, I have attempted to bring up my children to be the same. Two of my sons have chosen a different lifestyle (with which I do not agree) but that is their choice and their responsibility. They are adults and fully responsible for their decisions and the consequences therein. I am saddened they have chosen their respective lifestyles but that is still their responsibility and choice.

They are still my sons and I love them but the consequences are their own not mine. We live in a society that teaches people have rights but what we should be teaching is that people have responsibilities and privileges.

One of those responsibilities is treat others are you yourself want to be treated.

People choose to believe what they want and quite often get upset if you disagree with them even to the extent of murder (or if they have no moral compass, terminating with extreme prejudice).

Just remember that you as an individual are responsible for your own actions, reactions and choices and the consequences that follow on from that.

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