A spokesperson at the Vodaphone press office in Newbury explained this afternoon that with a lot of children now using mobile telephone technology to access the internet, web sites had “to meet a content standard”. Customers, she explained, could “opt-in” to access adult websites.
The Vodaphone website says that to opt-in, a subscriber has to be able to prove his or her age – and must be 18 or over.
UK Gay News uses a Vodaphone mobile phone and a test last night confirmed access was barred. Though this was the very first time that we had attempted to go online from a mobile phone, we phoned the company and the block was lifted immediately.
No one could argue with this philosophy, given that there are many pornographic sites on the web.
However, in the case of both UK Gay News and Gay City News, one fails to see how either can be deemed to be “adult content” sites.
In the case of UK Gay News, the vast majority of the content is links to articles of interest to lesbian, gay or transgender people in some of the world’s most respected newspapers, ranging from The Guardian and The Independent in the UK to the Globe & Mail in Canada and the Washington Post in USA.
The front page of Gay City News this morning include stories about a movie being adapted from an Upton Sinclair novel, congress cutting HIV prevention moneys, and the witch hunt for gays in Morocco.
To put it simply, without any attempt to be clever, this is institutionalized homophobia in the form of direct media censorship. I'll be letting Vodafone and Verizon Wireless know what I think of Vodafone's policy.