UK ISP Will Ban Two Million Kids From Accessing Pirate Sites

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Not-for-profit Internet service provider LGfL, which supplies broadband to 3,000 UK schools, has agreed to block access to a huge number of pirate sites. The initiative will rely on a database of domains provided by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, preventing students from accessing pirated content.

Citizens of the United Kingdom with a taste for free content are becoming more and more familiar with the idea of website blocking.

Thousands of ‘pirate’ domains are blocked by major Internet service providers such as Sky, Virgin, TalkTalk, and BT, following legal action from the movie and music industries.

These blocking efforts are all officially sanctioned by the High Court via injunction but a new pirate-blocking initiative just announced by the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) appears to be entirely voluntary.

Among other things, LGfL – a not-for-profit Charitable Trust – supplies high-speed broadband to around 3,000 schools in the UK. It also has a mission to save schools money and keep children safe. It now appears that will involve preventing them from accessing very large numbers of pirate sites whilst in school.

LGfL DigiSafe (LGfL’s ‘safeguarding arm’) has just announced that it will work with the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) to ensure that pirate sites are rendered inaccessible to anyone using the LGfL network.

The list of domains to be blocked will be obtained from PIPCU’s ‘Infringing Website List’ (IWL), a database of platforms deemed by the authorities to be engaged in copyright infringement. The same list is used by EU advertisers to prevent brand ads appearing on pirate sites, as detailed earlier this month.

According to LGfL DigiSafe, blocking the sites will help prevent children and teachers from accessing “risky” content while allowing schools to be more relaxed about the implications of copyright infringement taking place on site.

“LGfL DigiSafe is committed to partnering with relevant stakeholders in order to achieve our mission of saving schools money and keeping children safe,” says Mark Bentley, Online Safety and Safeguarding Manager at LGfL DigiSafe.

“By working with City of London police to block its List of Infringing Websites to our community of over two million students we not only prevent children accessing inappropriate material but also provide reassurance to senior leaders that this illegal activity cannot be committed on the school site, meaning headteachers do not need to fear liability for copyright infringements.”

Detective Constable Steve Salway of PIPCU says that his unit is pleased that LGfL will be keeping students safe by utilizing its database of infringing sites.

“The online safety of school children is of paramount importance and our IWL is able to prevent them from viewing inappropriate material. It will also put a stop to them accessing copyright infringing content, leaving London schools with extra peace of mind,” Salway notes.

LGfL literature indicates that 97% of London schools are part of its network, meaning that the capital will be the first city in the UK to face an almost complete ‘pirate blackout’ in its schools.

Still, with most kids these days spending large amounts of time on legal platforms such as YouTube and Spotify, there shouldn’t be too much of a drought of free media, should pirate sites be eliminated. However, YouTube is often restricted on LGfL’s network too, so the party may be coming to an end, at least for those who don’t have a smartphone and 4G.


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