On Twitter: @JamesFirth and @s_r_o_c (post feed)

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Monday, 19 December 2011

Don't let SOPA ruin Christmas

So much has been written about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that I'm not writing any more.  Use your favourite search engine or listen to the interview I did with Cathy Gellis on the Pod Delusion last month.

The important message here is don't let SOPA, music or film industry lobbyists ruin Christmas.

Yes, the threat to an open and democratic internet is very real.  But the reality also is, unless you intend to stand on the steps of Congress with a banner on Wednesday or register your opposition to the bill with your representative there's very little else can be done at this relatively early stage.

The SOPA bill still has a long way to go.  After the House Judiciary Committee it needs to then go for a full vote.  After that, it needs to pass to the Senate and scrutiny of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then a full Senate vote.  Then it needs to be signed by the President.

Yes, it could all happen very fast, but there will be some time for opposition to grow and mature.  Allies are emerging, like Senator Ron Wyden, who re-stated his intention to filibuster (delay) the passage of SOPA and its Senate counterpart PIPA.  Large tech companies like Wikipedia, Google and Facebook have raised concerns.

In some respects the rights holders have shot themselves in the foot by starting two separate bills in different houses of congress.  The Protect IP Act (PIPA) needs to pass from the Senate to the House of Representatives, and SOPA the other way.  Double the process, double the noise and, hopefully, double the opposition.

In the UK, similar provisions might make their way into the Communications Bill, and there's also apparently a second bill of interest that might be called the Communications Capability Bill, which will attempt to install monitoring and pinch points, maybe even an internet Kill Switch, into the UK infrastructure.

There's also ongoing attempts to block Newzbin on more ISPs, and get more sites blocked under Section 97A of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (under-the-radar censorship provisions pushed in by Statutory Instrument without the scrutiny of a full Parliamentary Bill back in 2003).

But seriously, all this will happen in the new year.  There's only so much can be done when campaigning for sanity in digital policy making on either side of the Atlantic, and there is nothing to be gained from getting too upset about events outside your direct control when you could be enjoying a beer and some turkey.

So, bar a major development this will be my last post till 2012.  Let's hope, as the days start to get longer, the light will dawn on the lawmakers ignorant of how the internet works and they'll shift towards policies fit for a digital age.


Result! Vodafone now allows internet underwear shopping

This could be another example of the power of blogs and social media, or it could just be coincidence...

Vodafone now allows its customers to buy underwear via their mobile internet service.  I reported at the start of December that Vodafone UK had blocked access to two popular lingerie retailers Bravissimo and Figleaves for customers using their "adult content" filter, which was enabled by default on all standard connections.

Essentially, customers had to prove they were over 18 and say words to the effect of "give me porn" in order to buy bras.  Having spoken to several parents in the interim I was not so surprised to hear of cases where parents had removed the adult content blocker (on non-Vodafone services) for their 14- and 15-years-old children because the block was "more trouble than it was worth."

One parent told me at one time Flickr was blocked on O2's service and twitter.com filtered as adult content on T-mobile, although neither are blocked today.

On the plus side it appears as though mobile ISPs act when a certain level of noise is made online about over-blocking.  I made sure Vodafone UK, Figleaves and Bravissimo were aware of the block.  I never heard back from either company, but it's certainly possible that one or both of the retailers also took the matter up privately with Vodafone, given profits were potentially at stake.

And when this blog was blocked over summer by T-mobile, Kevin Townsend made his readers aware and other blogs followed. Mark Jackson of ISPReview followed up with the ISP and my blog was saved.

On one hand the feedback loop seems to be working, on the other I worry how many websites fall between the cracks and never raise a big enough stink to get unblocked.

I'm interested whether ISPs can be held liable for losses suffered due to unfair blocking, but I'm told this is a completely untested area of law in the UK.  Maybe the risk of financial penalties for over-blocking would make companies far more careful over what they do block.

I've heard reports that some blocking companies, again not directly related to the case under discussion, use the digital equivalent of "sweat shops", paying pennies per link to anyone prepared to surf the internet and classify a website as suitable or not for children.

I can imagine such arrangements find it hard to provide an inventive for accuracy.  Additionally, if such classification takes place overseas, it might not take into account cultural sensitivities.  In some countries even lingerie shops would not get away displaying photographs of models promoting their wares.

A big thanks to an anonymous tipster for the original story and Dominique Lazanski for a wealth of research and insight.


Friday, 16 December 2011

Facebook Timeline removal?

Update: see more analysis on the Open Digital blog and a follow-up explaining where my privacy concerns lie: it's all about choice & control.

If any of these statements is wrong, or you have any extra info, please comment below.

1. Once enabled, the Facebook Timeline feature can't be removed.  Well I can't seem to remove it.
2. Once enabled, you do get a window of 7 days to "manage" your timeline, but I've got thousands of posts.  Why the strict 7-day deadline? Why not have an indefinite period to publish?
3. Yes, Facebook provides the option to set all old posts to "friends only" but what if I want to remove all old posts, or at least set the visibility to "only me" on all old posts?  Why am I forced to make my digital exhaust available to all at a minimum to all my friends?


Thursday, 15 December 2011

Sky blocks Newzbin, important legal and technical questions need answering

Expanding the blocking order for Newzbin to cover other ISPs seems a no-brainer, but fundamental differences in the way each ISP manages its network are small details that may have serious consequences for other unrelated websites.

Yesterday I started to see reports on twitter that Sky's broadband service was blocking access to Newzbin, an overseas website which rights holders acting for the film industry forced BT to block with an injunction coming into force last month.

The reports of a Sky block would be no surprise, a representative of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) told a round table meeting hosted by Communications Minister Ed Vaizey last week that legal action against other ISPs was ongoing (my report from the meeting here).

Today trefor.net spotted an official announcement from Sky confirming the block:
"We have received a court order requiring us to block access to this illegal website, which we did on 13th December, 2011"

Important legal and technical questions 

It appears that Sky waited for the court order, but the big questions are:
  1. Did they fight the order?
  2. Was the order modified in any way to take into account that the blocking technology at Sky is, as far as I understand, significantly different to BTs?
On point (1), Sky could be forgiven for rolling over easily.  BT were hit by a potentially massive costs ruling, making them liable for a large proportion of the rights holder's legal costs for adopting a stance of "all-out opposition" to the order (see paragraph 54 of the October 2011 ruling).

These types of costs rulings are unhelpful when there's a public interest in testing an application with a strong challenge.  The ISPs don't want to risk tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds in costs liability simply for mounting a robust defence, yet without a robust defence, censorship requests are more likely to be nodded through on unchallenged evidence presented by rights holders.

On (2), there is a serious risk of "overblocking" (blocking more services than just Newzbin).  The risk of overblocking was explored in detail in Justice Arnold's earlier rulings in July and October 2011. (Thanks to BT forcing the exploration via their stance of "all-out opposition" - see the public interest, now?)

Justice Arnold heard how BT's blocking system, commonly known as Cleanfeed, minimised the risk of over-blocking by using a 2-stage process.  As I understand it, first the IP address is matched against a list.  If a match is made, the request to access the website is re-routed via a proxy server.  The proxy server then looks more closely at the request to see if the URL (the text typed into the web browser) matches.  If so, access if blocked.

Justice Arnold heard arguments from both sides.  Should the IP address be blocked wholesale, or should it be re-routed via the proxy servers so that the URL can be matched too?  He ruled (para 6, October 2011):
"At all events, the Studios now accept that the order should refer to IP address re-routing and not IP address blocking. It appears that IP address blocking could lead to "overblocking" of sites or pages that ought not to be blocked"

"Overblocking" and IP address recycling, serious issues for other unrelated websites

The risk of overblocking is not an ethereal academic concept.  It is highly likely to occur because of two factors.

The first is that Newzbin will - and there's strong evidence they have done already, several times - change their IP address.  It is well known that IP addresses have all but run out.  Nearly all IP addresses allocated are recycled - they've been in use before.

Pity the website owner who picks up Newzbin's old IP address.  Under Arnold, J's BT ruling the new owner of the IP address would have some solace in that the URL would not match, therefore BT customers would still be able to access the website, albeit via a proxy.   Re-routing via the proxy may cause some minor problems, but that's a bit of a side issue.

In the case of Sky, unless Sky happen to also use a 2-stage blocking system - and my contacts tell me they do not - then whoever picks up the old recycled IP addresses from Newzbin will find themselves blocked.

The judgements together are very long. I read them both and didn't find anything about much in the earlier rulings about IP address recycling and

In fact whilst I could find no mechanism described for removing IP addresses and URLs should they be no longer used by Newzbin, there was a mechanism for adding new IP addresses and URLs to the block list without re-applying to the court.

Not only that, but sites "whose sole or predominant purpose is to enable or facilitate access to the Newzbin[2] website" (para 10) can find themselves blocked, again without re-application to the court.  If someone creates a website explaining how to work around the block, and this website did very little else but explain how to access Newzbin, it too could be blocked.

So we're not just talking about recycling of IP addresses used by the main Newzbin site, we're talking about other websites.  Other websites highly likely to be transient and therefore recycle their IP addresses more frequently.

BT reported at a recent round table meeting on web blocking, where I was present, that:
"We've recently received an additional list of IP addresses and URLs under the Newzbin ruling orders of magnitude longer than the original list"
As if this wasn't worrying enough, there's no independent oversight of the IP addresses and URLs added to the list.  In fact Justice Arnold said BT wasn't responsible for verifying IP addresses and URLs added to the block list (para 12):
"I do not mean that BT will be obliged to check IP addresses or URLs notified by the Studios."


There is a financial disincentive for ISPs to mount robust legal challenges to blocking applications.  Whilst this is the case, important legal and technical issues might not be properly addressed and there is a very real risk that innocent websites unrelated to Newzbin could be blocked.

As I've explained many times before, anyone desperate to access blocked material will find a way of doing so.  Numerous reports, including a government-commissioned report into web blocking, support this.  At the same time, innocent net users who find broken links to websites perhaps won't be aware that the site is a victim of overblocking.  In fact the site owner may not notice either.

These are serious questions which need addressing now the courts and government has decided to go down the route of blocking.  And the risk will increase with every new site added to the block, as I doubt the rights holders will rest until many more websites are added to the block list.


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Megaupload, Newzbin, TPB - how much more publicity will the music industry gift the sites they don't want us to use?

Now I spend a lot of time online, but I'd never heard of a website called Newzbin until copyright owners filed a lawsuit in London against the site, which the rights holders won in March 2010.

Newzbin is, apparently, the place to get copyright infringing digital warez like movies and albums.  The site charges membership fees and, without condoning what Newzbin is doing in any way, I'd bet they've seen an uptick in traffic - if not membership - since copyright owners won an injunction forcing major UK ISP British Telecom to block access to the site.

Why? Because the site has been in the news quite a lot recently.

Similarly, I'd never heard of a digital locker service called Megaupload until Universal Music Group (UMG) allegedly got one of Megaupload's videos pulled from YouTube on copyright grounds.

The controversy?  The video in question was a specially commissioned advert for Megaupload.  There is, Megaupload argue in defence, no copyright infringement whatsoever.

Adding to the intrigue, the commissioned video features P. Diddy, Alicia Keys, Kanye West and Snoop Dogg, amongst others.  These A-list stars offered their tacit endorsement at a time when the Recoding Industry Association of America (RIAA) had branded Megaupload a "rogue" site.

The Megaupload case is potentially more interesting than Newzbin because the latter, according to a March 2010 ruling in the High Court in London, represents an unlawful business profiting on the copyright of others.

Conversely there's no evidence, other than the RIAA assertion, that Megaupload is in anyway engaged in any illegal activity.  Megaupload is now suing UMG for the erroneous takedown.

Interesting points in this dispute:
  • The digital service is fighting back.  The fact Megaupload commissioned the music superstars in the first place indicate they have serious financial clout.  The filing of a lawsuit against UMG indicates a new front opening up in the digital copyright wars and a shift in the power and cash balance between new and old media.
  • Megaupload has since come out in against American legislation the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), making the case for free speech and due process to prevent legitimate websites being hit in the battle to cleanse the web of copyright infringing content.
  • The takedown and associated legal tussle could actually help Megaupload make more money.  The Streisand Effect demonstrated the relationship between public curiosity online in the face of an attempt to censor information on a subject.  Megaupload is a new cause célèbre in a tinderbox of discontent at copyright over-reach and an old media landgrab for control of the internet to protect their analogue world charging models and digital deals with preferred suppliers.  

The move by UMG is just about the worst imaginable, if the aim was to prevent the service advertising itself.  In fact the action is just one in a long line of PR blunders across the old media industries, highlighting what little the analogue world understands of new media.

Ever heard of a film called Downfall? (Bear with me!) Sure you have, but did you know about it before the internet meme of the Downfall parody?  The Downfall parody has probably catapulted a mediocre European war epic into one of the best known films of the internet.  Downfall got publicity other film makers dream of, yet parodies started getting yanked from YouTube last year on copyright grounds.

And herein lies the madness in the control-dominated world of old media.  They stamp out sharing, parodies and remixes; things which could be give their product massive added visibility, whilst simultaneously advertising to the world how to get hold of infringing content, thrusting "rogue" sites into the spotlight by demanding unreasonable measures like national web filters to protect their business models.

Additionally, the continued and calculated downbeat outlook from the recording and film industries could be self-defeating.  It's said that several music lobby groups worldwide have an official policy never to put out a "good news" press release in countries where piracy is seen as a problem.  Could this policy be putting-off investors in content, because of the perception that piracy is a bigger problem than it actually is?

It's supremely ironic that music industry lawyers and lobbyists are fighting a battle with search engines to demote down the search rankings links to infringing content.  Links to websites like The Pirate Bay, when the very same lobbyists and PR people have spent the last few years advertising The Pirate Bay to the world by telling the press how important it is the site be banned.

Who's never heard of The Pirate Bay? Who needs Google to find The Pirate Bay?!


Monday, 12 December 2011

Solution for the GCHQ cyber challenge canyoucrackit.co.uk

Did you give it a go? The cyber challenge at canyoucrackit.co.uk was allegedly part of a recruitment drive for government spy agency GCHQ.  Open digital has the full solution to what turned out to be a 3-part challenge.


Saturday, 10 December 2011

"Two speed" Europe? It's already three speed

Okay, I'm going to get some stick about City protectionism and dilution of employee rights.  I accept many of the excuses made by Cameron in public for distancing the UK from the EU sound pretty lame.

But there's also some good reasons, especially in the area of bank regulation where the UK seems to be pushing for a tougher stance than other EU member states.  I can also see that making decisions on regulation within the EU could be beset by political squabbles resulting in half-baked legislation, and it might make sense at this stage for the City to go it alone.

And on the issue of transaction tax that's really a global question that the EU has only limited options without unduly affecting global institutions operating within the EU.  Yes, I know there are a lot of excuses out there, but the fact is global businesses will do all they can to minimise their tax burden.

But these are side issues. I'm disturbed by a load of shouty people crying out, "disaster!" How terrible it would be for the UK to be sidelined within Europe.  As the saying goes, don't panic!

As you were, folks.  There's already at least "three speeds" in Europe.  Firstly there's the European Union of 27 countries, then there's the 17 Eurozone countries sharing the common currency.  And then there's the real periphery of the European Economic Area, which includes all 27 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Oh, and there's the Council of Europe, covering 47 states, not to be confused with the Council of the European Union.

It's tempting to see David Cameron's move as catastrophic, but I can't see any evidence that it will be.  It might not be the best move for the UK or Europe, but equally it might actually be a good move for the UK... And Europe.

Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) to return, again. Version 2.2?

Update 13-Dec: Just heard from another source that government plans have a new title.  IMP becomes the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP)...

Multiple sources indicate the controversial Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) first floated in 2008 and appearing in revised form in 2009 is to resurface when Parliament returns from its Christmas break.

The original plan was to create a huge centralised database of "communications traffic data" (sites visited, people emailed, etc).

Version 2 in 2009 scaled back on data centralisation, but increased what was to be collected.  The ISPs would keep the data, only handing it over to police and local council school admission compliance officers, dog wardens etc so long as they produced a warrant piece of paper from their boss signed under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

But the little black boxes to be installed within ISPs under IMP v2 would have been capable of reading much more, including who was writing to whom via webmail services, etc, using a technology called deep packet inspection.

Sources tell me the current plan is similar to version 2, a central database is still off the table. ISPs will keep the extra data gathered "as they do now, under the data retention rules".  But it's not the same as data retention. Data retention obliges ISPs and other communications service providers to store only the traffic data generated as part of their normal business.

Drilling deeper

IMP requires new equipment to be installed to "drill deeper" into the data stream, then obliges ISPs to store this data.  I'm told the focus is personal/direct messages sent via social media websites and instant messenger services.

On the surface officials want ISPs to install equipment to record who we're communicating with. The new capability is needed given a shift away from traditional email towards cloud email and services like Facebook, Google+ etc.  ISPs will be compensated for the equipment, data storage and each data access request from money already set aside for cyber security projects new money (claims a third source). (Updated 12/12/11)

But this argument doesn't bear close inspection, since a lot more traffic these days is encrypted, sometimes by default, than in 2009 when this plan first surfaced.  Most web email services, Skype, Google+ and Facebook allow users to connect more securely, using https://

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Notes and thoughts from Ed Vaizey copyright and web blocking round table, 7th December

Not much in the way of substantial progress resulted from this 90-minute meeting hosted by Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries yesterday at the Department for Media, Culture and Sport.

But that didn't make the meeting pointless.  In fact I found the meeting extremely useful, as it gave Open Digital and the Open Rights Group a platform to explain the basis of our opposition to sections of the Digital Economy Act and new measures proposed by rights holders to rapidly block websites accused of carrying copyright-infringing content.

The main purpose of the meeting, as the Minister explained, was a chance to discuss concerns and for people on all sides of the debate to meet in person.

Issues of substance discussed were live-tweeted by me during the meeting (tweets collated here).  We learned the MPAA are in the process of obtaining injunctions against other big ISPs to force them to block Newzbin (after an injunction was won against BT and other ISPs refused to implement a voluntary block).

The remaining Statutory Instrument (SI) needed to complete the Digital Economy Act should be published late January.  This order dictates how the process of dispatching warning letters to those accused of copyright infringement and hearing appeals will be run.  After one year in operation, the warnings can be supplemented with a "3-strikes" scheme, bringing penalties - technical measures - for those accused 3 times of copyright infringement.

In fact two SIs need to be approved by Parliament before the measures come in to force.  Whilst one has already cleared the hurdle of notification to the European Commission (a 3-month standstill period to allow comment from other member states), the second will not start this process until end of January.  The delay is so that any findings from an ongoing Judicial Review into the Act can be incorporated (this wasn't said explicitly at the meeting, but I heard this from other reliable sources).

DCMS and Ofcom officials did confirm that the first warning letters are unlikely to arrive on doormats until late spring to summer 2013 - that's three years after Her Majesty signed the Act!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Live tweets from Ed Vaizey round table on content protection and web blocking

For comments or corrections please email editorial@slightlyrightofcentre.com or call 01252 560 426

Update: I now have a write up of the meeting here, and there's another report on the Open Rights Group blog.

We got some transparency today of the ongoing meetings between Minister "for the internet" Ed Vaizey and rights holders, ISPs and other stakeholders on the subject of content protection (copyright) and web blocking.

The meeting was useful, but towards the end became dominated by a discussion over openness and whether the exposure brought through live blogging was appropriate. It was clear there was plenty of hostility towards my presence and that of Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group.

I put the view of Open Digital that public policy should not be developed in private, but we were willing to compromise if, for example, the discussion was not focussed on new laws.  If the purpose of the meeting was exploratory, we would support Chatham House Rules, where we were free to talk about the topics discussed but not identify the particular participant raising the issue.

Anyway, I don't have time to do this justice in a blog, so for now here's my live tweets (please excuse spelling, etc.  If you have a serious issue with anything tweeted I will offer a [short] right of reply right here in the main blog).

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Facing a "lost decade", ORLY? Time to look beyond GDP to measure progress

The term "lost decade" appears twice on Guardian.co.uk this morning.  Once in relation to Afghanistan, and again in relation to the UK economic outlook.  Using the same term to describe an impoverished war-torn country and the outlook in one of the richest countries in the world is bizarre at best.

But it's not just the distinction between Afghanistan and the UK that jarred.  When it comes to quality of life we've become obsessed with economic measures. And, worse, we've come to expect economic growth as a norm; periods of zero growth, however sustainable they may be, are seen as disastrous. Recession? Horrific!

But we might have to face up to the prospect that GDP - the size of the overall economy - as a measure of our quality of life and general well-being is reaching the limits of its usefulness.

The economic system needs to adapt to a new reality.  Capitalism we know, with the exception of a handful of high profile failures, is great at driving efficiency.  Inefficient manufacturers fail, usurped by more efficient rivals.  But there is a finite limit to efficiency - a base cost reflecting the fair price for any good or service.

Once we've reached this, growth must come from innovation and new products and services.

But the full social benefit of new products and services brought by innovation in the digital revolution is not fully reflected in GDP. In fact the digital revolution might be driving down traditional consumption, reducing GDP yet simultaneously increasing our quality of life.

Take for example eBay and second-hand goods.  Having a new baby would have cost us twice as much in the pre-eBay era.  Advances in communications technology has reduced consumption.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The GCHQ Cyber Challenge: hqDTK7b8K2rvw

UPDATE 11th Dec (11:59!): Solution here on the Open Digital Blog.

We used a few spare hours in the Open Digital office yesterday and today to have a go at the GCHQ cyber challenge _Can you crack it? 

Using a combination of Linux and Windows machines, a bit of JavaScript knowledge and 25 years' programming experience we got to stage 2 of 3.   We hope to bring you the full low down of how to solve it if we get there, however we don't want to spoil the fun for those still doing it so we won't say anything until the competition closes, bar this: hqDTK7b8K2rvw  - just to prove we got to where we did, when we did!

Hope to have the full explanation for you a week on Monday!

UPDATE 4th Dec: Just cracked it!


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Vodafone customers can't buy underwear online (unless they opt-in to porn)

Profits at some online retailers could be under threat because their websites are being blocked by some ISPs.

UPDATE 19-Dec-2011: both sites unblocked, result!

Vodafone's "child protection" filter, which is switched on by default for all new customers, currently blocks lingerie websites bravissimo.com and figleaves.com.

Following a tip-off, we used an iPhone connected to the Vodafone network.  The account holder had not asked for any filtering measures to be added or removed from their connection.  We were unable to access these two popular retailers, as well as a range of alcohol suppliers.

The question isn't "why would children want to buy lingerie" because these filters are active by default for all customers.

The question then is whether the average [adult] customer of these websites has had the forethought and motivation to disable the content filter on their account.  Indeed customers might feel embarrassed asking for the block to be lifted, as, essentially, the message behind this action is "I want to access adult content."

Blocked websites could be losing money to rivals.  We found several high street clothing chains and department stores who happen to sell underwear or alcohol as part of a wider product range are not blocked, raising the possibility that potential customers will turn to alternative retailers rather than getting the content filter removed from their connection.

Additionally, we've discovered this morning that Vodafone's "child protection" filter allows access to a host of pornography hosted on popular photo sharing websites.  The filtering system doesn't stop customers signing up for services at these websites, nor does it stop them checking boxes confirming they wish to access "restricted" content, thereby allowing access to pornography in circumvention of such filters.

As an earlier commenter points out, filtering systems seem nothing but a fig leaf, and may leave parents under the false impression that the internet in their child's pocket is "safe".

"Voluntary" blocking schemes operate with no transparency and oversight, and website owners usually only find out by accident their sites are blocked.  My own blog slightlyrightofcentre.com, a blog which often focusses on issues of web censorship, was itself blocked for a while by T-mobile's adult content system, until I kicked up a fuss.

Open Digital has a policy position on this, calling for such filters to offer transparency of the sites they block.  ISPs offering filtering should provide a mechanism for website owners to test if their websites are blocked, and a dispute resolution service so that sites who find themselves unfairly blocked can get themselves unblocked, and quickly.

I'm hearing disturbing news that Downing Street policy chiefs want to expand adult content filtering systems to fixed-line ISPs too, in a move designed to attract female voters.  I think it's safe to assume such policies are being developed by men, as the women I spoke to on this issue aren't convinced by a policy which blocks them from their shopping.