Three Ireland – Banning Irish gay sites for the sake of the children?

Update @ 18.45: Seems it’s not just Irish gay discussion sites that an over-zealous third party application that Three uses sees fit to censor. Word is that Three are trying to just bin the software now. Vodafone also have banned access to, QueerID and all tame Gay Discussion sites.

Via QueerID

I recently switched my mobile phone from O2 to 3. I soon discovered that certain websites are banned, in fact all “gay” sites which I’ve are inaccessible from my handset.

I called 3 to ask them why this was, and if they could remove the restriction, they said that certain sites are deemed unsuitable for children, and that if they ban these sites for one user they must be banned for all. I explained that I’m over 18 years of age, but they said they they couldn’t remove the filters for just one user. When I asked if this was company policy (I got speaking to a supervisor), he said it was

Three of the main Irish Gay Discussion sites have been banned:, & but I’m sure there’s more than that.

Homophobia in Vilnius
Photo owned by moacirpdsp (cc)

38 Responses to “Three Ireland – Banning Irish gay sites for the sake of the children?”

  1. Cian says:

    I just checked on a colleagues phone and he can access his Gaydar profile fine still – Three billpay phone.

  2. Cian says:

    hit enter before I finished clarifying that post, meant to say amazingly he can still access it – when its far more likely to be classed as “unsuitable” than QID or GCN surely.

  3. Damien says:

    Lol, so they allow “the children” to access Gaydar but not QueerID, did you check the above sites actually?

  4. Cian says:

    I didn’t, and the phone-owners gone off to lunch, will check when he’s back.

    The company web filter here doesn’t care about QueerID and GCN but I suspect it’d baulk at Gaydar, possibly just on the “social networking” aspect.

  5. Daragh says:

    Thanks for blogging about this Damien.

    Just tested Gaydar and it’s blocked on my handset – both and I’m a billpay customer too. Strange that it worked on Cian’s colleague’s handset.

  6. Cian says:

    What web browser are you using on it?

    Just checked QID and its working – Nokia S60 browser (the Safari-based one). Definitively on 3. He’s never access QID before so its not cached or even cached DNS!

  7. Damien says:

    Right, so Three says it’s official policy yet it appears some customers can get to the sites they’ve said they ban?

  8. steve white says:

    this is just on mobiles? look up a work around quick DM, show em how pointless is is

  9. Damien says:

    Almost a constructive comment from you Steve, but not quite. One day eh? One day.

  10. Daragh says:

    I’m using the default browser loaded on the phone – the handset is a Nokia 6120 classic (also using S60).

    I’ve just downloaded Opera Mini (which is very good by the way – fastest browser I’ve used on S60), and all sites are working fine with that – so it seems that only browsing with the default browser is affected.

    But why have a restriction at all? What is the policy? I’ve emailed 3, let’s see what they say…

  11. Damien says:

    That must mean the banlist is on the phone or via some proxy set up on the phone.

  12. Daragh says:

    Steve, according to the guy at 3 customer service I spoke to yesterday, the restrictions don’t apply to Three data cards, or even if you use your phone as a modem. The banned sites are only inaccessible on handsets.

  13. Cian says:

    Opera Mini tunnels all its traffic through a page-reconfigurator on Opera’s end. Three sees it as all (or similar, not sure the exact address)

    My colleague has an unlimited data plan on his phone and it could be set up as if its a modem, which may explain it.

  14. These restrictions do not apply to Three’s ‘broadband’ service, I can confirm.

    Ridiculous that they’re there at all, though, really. Is it just the prepay one, or the billpay as well?

  15. […] Damien points out today that a number of Irish gay discussion sites are blocked by 3 Ireland when you try to access them via 3G on one of their handsets. Curiously enough their argument for doing so is because these websites are deemed unsuitable for children. However, as noted back in 2007, when 3 took down it’s “walled garden” to allow full Internet access from your handset they introduced a policy of only allowing Internet access if you registered with them and if you were over 18. So there is no need for this at all because children can’t access Internet from their handsets full stop. […]

  16. NiallOK says:

    I’m curious… What made you switch to Three in the first place??

  17. Shane says:

    Presuming they have banned access to all porn sites using the same logic of protecting the children? What about access to sites with graphic novels, games etc?

  18. Daragh says:

    I’ve tried a few Google searches for porn – the search results appeared but when I try clicking on the links the sites are blocked.

    Free 3 to 3 calls, free Skype (not just in wi-fi zones, and no data charges for using Skype over 3G) and 300 “flexi-units” per month (1 unit = 1 minute/3 texts/1Mb data)
    Was going to stay with O2 but they annoyed me in the shop when I was changing ownership from company to personal – told me I could have a free phone, then after 20 minutes waiting around said “sorry, you can’t have the phone, unless you change your number” – after I’d taken it out of the box and played around with it.
    Thinking of going back to O2 as I think that qualify for the phone now – as I’ll be coming from another network.

  19. Shauna says:

    Just tried to get into from my Vodafone bill pay phone and an error message comes up saying “access denied as content deemed unsuitable for under 18’s. Please bring proof of age to Vodafone agent for age verification.

    Presumably they will unblock it if they are happy enough the person is over 18, but still, thats very big brotherish…

    Havn’t been to the gcn site in a while, but I don’t remember it ever being a hotbed of sin and vice!

  20. click here says:

    Seems like someone who’s experienced this needs to take some steps to rectify:

    (I’m a pay-as-you go Vodafone customer, but apparently my phone’s memory is full, so can’t say for certain what they censor.)

  21. manuel says:

    Seriously that is fucking scandalous…….

  22. squid says:

    Am able to access on my handset,

    Curious to know if the likes of Stormfront is banned on 3?

  23. squid says:

    oh am vodafone RTG by the way.

  24. Shauna says:

    Vodafone seem to have a strange attitude to what is deemed inappropiate adult content- just a selection of urls that prompted the access denied message on my phone this evening:

    and last but not least: !!

    Who in Vodafone decides that this stuff isn’t acceptable for the poor vunerable children of Ireland?
    It’s pathetic, it really is.

  25. squid says:

    It must be your handset settings then as I am also able to access

  26. steve white says:

    is there some other company doing the filtering for 3?

  27. Shauna says:

    Squid, you are indeed correct, i discovered after I had posted that list above that as regards content that can be accessed, I was on some bizarre universal setting with Vodadone – which is “safe for minors” apparently. To be fair though, it was easy enough to change the setting online anyway.

  28. tipster says:

    This made today’s Daily Irish Mail, because of the buzz on the boards.

  29. Daragh says:

    The story makes page 19 of today’s Irish Daily Mail. According to the spokesperson for 3, the UK company Blue Coat is responsible for filtering and blames them.

    No good reason for why people over 18 years of age have a restriction on their handset in the first place. Protecting minors doesn’t stand up when the other networks can remove restrictions on request.

    Still no reply to my email to 3 either. Not impressed.

  30. says:

    We were dissapointed to discover that visitors and members were being denied access to our site on Three mobile handsets as well as other gay lifestyle websites. The implication that somehow because is for gay people, that it is somehow unsuitable for general public consumption, is highly offensive to gay people, their family members and friends.

    Considering the forward looking image Three portrays in their advertising and media campaigns, their associating the word gay with being ‘dirty’, seems uneducated and at worst bigoted. To add insult to injury, Three contacted us this afternoon to let us know that there are no plans to unblock access to these sites, despite what you may have read in the press today. The member of staff declined to comment on this, and would not give us contact details for somebody else to speak to in the organisation.

    This censorship could also mean that support sites for young people coming out, or those affected by HIV (regardless of sexuality) may be blocked due to containing ‘gay’ content and we feel this is totally unacceptable.

  31. What a load of bollox. Have you evidence of support sites being blocked or are you just guessing? Kind of pathetic making a statement like that about censorship when you sign off as a website, not a person.

  32. Damien (who I’d guess is not Mulley): would be the obvious one to try. For that matter, some of the sites originally mentioned could qualify as ‘support sites’.

  33. Hi Damien – apologies for signing off as a website – I didn’t know the etiquette! I’ve corrected that above. I was merely saying that a blanket ban on gay sites could affect support sites, not that it was.

  34. Daragh says:

    I’ve just switched back to my old network, O2, from 3.

    I’ve never come across a mobile network who try to dictate to me, an adult, what I can and cannot access on the Internet.

    I gave 3 the opportunity to remove their over-sensitive filtering from my account – they refused.

    When I spoke to 3’s inadequately equipped customer service reps, based in Mumbai, they tried to fob me off with lines from a script (which would be better if they were the right lines), when I pressed them for more information they came back with a different story. It takes half an hour to get anywhere with the simplest of queries – too much work.

    All that AND then their dishonesty to the press yesterday. And I’ve received no response to my emails which I sent to customer service, to Sarah O’Neill in their PR dept (emails to Head of PR Rachel Channing bounced) – so I’m seriously unimpressed by their attitude to their customers.

    My partner is also taking advantage of his cooling off period and terminating his contract with 3 – they’ve just lost 2 new customers.

    Pity, as it would have been so easy to deal with this properly. My impression of 3 has gone through the floor.

  35. Fergal says:

    i too am a three customer both pre-pay and bill-pay and the pre-pay account was blocked from accessing ANY adult orientated/themed sites however tame or harmless they were!

    i asked three to remove these restrictions as i had age verified my account three times since october 07 and was paying for what should have been unrestricted access!

    they spent three months denying they were blocking sites then claimed they could not unblock the sites as it was in the hands of an outside company!

    finally they were able to unblock that account and another account of a friend.

    it is possible to have these unnecessary restrictions lifted but it will take time and many long calls to india as i fear their customer care get paid by the length of the calls!

  36. Pete UK says:

    I am a 3 mobile customer. I personally think the whole “protect the kids” excuse is an absolute joke. For instance 3 are responsible enough to request that you set up an ID login in order to access adult content, common sense for a phone I think. This allows you acces to the pay-for content supplied through the 3 store for an extra cost.

    Presumably you could use this same login to acces the web unrestricted proving that you are indeed an adult.

    However all content deemed adult is not still blocked after setting up this child protection login. Why am I still blocked when I have proved Im and adult?

    Well to answer that you will note that 3 have made the usefull addition of automatically redirecting you to the 3’s own adult content which is accesable… for a price!

    What a con! Im moving to O2 first chance I get.

  37. […] time Three Mobile took it upon themselves to police the web. The carrier took it upon themselves to ban access to various gay websites too.It’s good to know that censorship is alive and well in western Europe. And in other news, the […]

  38. seamus says:

    im with 02 but was going 2 switch to 3 but after reading comments I think I will stay with o2, at least u can visit gay web sites. But bollocks 3 are taking over 02-you just cant win