UK web blacklist blocks access to file-sharing site Fileserve

UK ISPs blocked access to Fileserve over the weekend, after the UK's web blacklist filter blocked all downloads from the site after a reporting error.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

The UK's Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has now lifted a block imposed on UK Internet service providers, after a specific link was thought to contain child abuse imagery.

But the IWF's block restricted downloads from the file-sharing site Fileserve, restricting users from accessing their personal files, and downloading files uploaded by others. While users were pointed to purchasing premium accounts for faster downloads, UK premium users were still blocked from downloading content from the site.

Many had taken to their web providers' support forums to complain about the move, with many believing their ISPs were blocking downloads. Subsequently, an updated message on the Fileserve site revealed the IWF "recently implemented changes that may affect your download ability on the site".

Fileserve remains as one of the top most-visited sites on the web, allowing users to store files, documents, and sometimes copyright infringing material.

Working alongside consumer web services and broadband providers, the IWF maintains a blacklist of domains and websites to prevent users from seeing or being able to access child pornography. It is understood that the IWF initially blocked access to one file hosted by the site, but instead blocked access to all of the sites' download servers.

In 2008, the IWF blacklisted a page on Wikipedia because it contained an album cover by the band Scorpions was deemed as child pornography. The organisation came under heavy fire from privacy groups who labelled the move as "censorship", while some argued in the filtering systems' defence.

In January 2009, Archive.org's Wayback Machine, a site that allows access to carbon copies of 13 years of web history, was blocked by a UK web provider because the IWF blacklisted the domain because of a seemingly rogue file.

The IWF is a self-regulatory body and subscribed to by the major web providers in the UK. While the block has now been lifted, users are saying, it comes only a week after the web marked American Censorship Day in a bid to protest the move made by the U.S. government to implement the SOPA anti-piracy bill.


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