lis vs. misogyny;

This morning I was checking my usual web hangouts in the bath, as I am wont to do in these dark, internetless days, when I discovered something disturbing. Intending to give the birthday girl’s Rachel Maddow article another read, I was shocked to find out that the side it was posted on was “restricted”, and therefore couldn’t be accessed from the 3 network.

Now, why would an article about an American broadcast journalist, posted on a news and culture site, be worthy of such a rating? I’ve had a whole bus journey in which to ponder this, and have come to the somewhat unsettling conclusion that it’s because the site happens to have a queer focus and has a title based on the word “lesbian”. I seem to have no problem acccessing AfterEllen.com from my phone, so am forced to conclude that the 3 network is run by a bunch of homophobes who have programmed the word “lesbian” into some automated blocking software because OF COURSE the word only relates to girl-on-girl, strap-ons and titlating behaviour. Real women aren’t lesbians, and sexuality is not a political issue.

I’ve got a piece of paper that begs to differ, and that piece of paper is called the Equality Act 2006.

Ach, I’m not really a moaning minnie but I’ve had nothing but bad experiences since I signed up to the 3 network (under duress, and after a sales call from one of those third-party companies offering half-price line rental for a year that you claimed back via a voucher. The third party company, of course, went out of business before I was eligible to claim). They were always the best for mobile internet, which as you all know is one of the primary uses to which I put my mobile, but now the rest of the world has caught up on their iPhones and Blackberries the service has slowed to a crawl and is only accessible without problems for about twenty minutes a day. I also seem to have lost the ability to get any sort of reception either at the Towers, or my mum’s – something which has only seemed to happen over the past two months. The annoying thing is I recently tied myself in for another eighteen months so I could take advantage of their 3 Like Home scheme while I was in Australia – something which ultimately backfired as I couldn’t get onto the network in Bendigo or the surrounding areas (despite the fact the James never had any problems). And let’s not get started on their notoriously shoddy customer service (apparently now operated from the Indian countryside rather than Mumbai, so they can pay their staff even less)!

MOAR LYG:  all about the fire in your life on the evening news;

I hope to ultimately replace both my useless brick of a phone and iPod Touch with an iPhone, meaning I get to reduce the amount of expensive gadgetry I have on my person at any given time, and while I intended to wait until my contract expired and they ultimately release a 32Gb iPhone if I could get out of my contract today I would.

And, let’s face it, when you’re a little bit depressed there’s nothing like a bit of righteous indignation to get the blood boiling. If I get any response to my email, I’ll let you know.

Dear sirs,

I write to express my concern at the way websites are filtered on the 3 mobile internet service.

I was an early adopter of mobile internet technology, and have readily
incorporated checking relevant news sites, email and blogs on my phone
into my daily routine. Imagine my surprise this morning when, on trying
to access a link on a feminist blog, I received a Restricted Content notification preventing me from accessing the site.

The site in question was www.lesbilicious.com, an online media and culture magazine with an obvious emphasis on queer culture. Although its editorial policy does not shy away from the most hard-hitting of issues, I think it would take a substantial stretch of the imagination to classify anything contained therein as pornography, and as a journalist and lawyer with an interest women’s issues – with an emphasis on gay rights – I find the implications which can be taken from blocking a site which happens to have the word “lesbian” in the title disturbing, if not ultimately at odds with the non-discrimination provisions contained in the Human Rights Act 1998 and Equality Act 2006.

Furthermore, the hypocracy displayed by 3 as far as adult content is concerned is palpable when you consider that links to such content are displayed on your homepage from about 9pm every evening and are accessible to those of any age with a 3 phone. I am aware that the content itself can only be accessed by those over the age of 18 who have registered for a PIN, but the links and pictures displayed are pretty self-explanatory.

I have been a 3 customer since 2005, and am fast becoming completely disillusioned with your service – not least because, over the past two months, I seem to have lost the ability to get a decent reception from my home. I would appreciate a full outline of your content filtering policies at your earliest convenience.

Kind regards, etc.

  • Lola

    Well, you go girl!

  • Thanks for the links here, especially lesbilious…! Although not blocked at my work (im surprised) in my old school establishment people could get the worng impression even if im only reading it for the writing and great take on issues.. thanks!

  • Cate

    If you go to phones4u their commission is so high for getting you to switch network and sign a new contract that sometimes they’ll actually buy you out of your existing contract. Last time I got a phone from them they gave me £70 in cash.

  • CatsPuke

    I hope you’re going to send off that letter. Certinaly it needs to be brought to their attention

    CP x

  • I sent the email this morning before I posted this – I’ve got a voicemail from 3 asking me to call them back, but it’s from their notorious call centre so I doubt I’ll have much joy…

    I wish Phones4U did the iPhone! But I guess anything’s preferable – thanks for the tip, Cate.

  • Jay is Spartacus, too

    …..and now i cant access this blog from the three network.

    wait…i’m not on three.

  • Amazing! Hell hath no fury like a legal woman scorned.

    I should know.

  • sarah sea

    3 internet has not been working for me AT ALL today, or last night. Could you get on other sites from your phone OK?

    (This means I am now almost internetless unless I come into the living room, which I’ve only just been able to do given that I’ve been in bed all day with the beginnings of what I believe to be a nasty virus – going back to bed soon to sulk. :() x

  • Milly

    Thanks for your kind words about Lesbilicious! Let me know if you get a response from 3. We’re constantly getting emails from people who work at councils complaining that Lesbilicious is blocked – and usually it’s exactly the situation you describe here – “lesbian” only seems to mean “porn” as far as IT departments seem to think….

  • Thanks for stopping by, Milly, and I will keep you all posted! 3 have tried to get in touch (and have sent an automatic, meaningless email in case I haven’t been checking my voicemail), so calling them back is on my list of things for today.

  • Debbie

    Ah so this explains your email. I’m saying nothing, using the work computer. Oh wonderful company!! lol

  • I can see why IT depts might zone such a site out, but on a private connection? One thing I always bear in mind: They’re neither moral, nor majority.

  • Melanie

    Fair call, but “Dear sirs”?

  • God bless the internet, I was hoping nobody would pick me up on that! It will be corrected when I ultimately send this as a letter (because I’ve had no success in following up the email).

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  • crozz

    Today i was not able to access any of my gay dating websites on my mobile which is on Three network. I rang up Customer Services looking for either help(thinking that this was a tech issue with bad set up firewall) or explanation why gay content is considered as a subject of restrictions from Three network.
    Well… during my telecom with the guys from 3 i was just about to accuse them in being homophobic when i realised that actually they do that just to prevent you browsing websites with similar content that their Top shelf restricted zone.
    Now if we draw a line and see what’s what this is what we get:
    1. Three internet sux due to their unpublished policy regarding adult website restrictions is in breach of the human rights of people with different sexuality. In short: DISCRIMINATION on a basis of sexuality!
    2. Three mobile network monopolise the virtual space by placing unreasonable restriction preventing their customers to access Internet freely.
    3. Three mobile network has double standards regarding restricted audult content online by havening right in your face their explicit ads of their Top shelf section.
    4. Three mobile network confirms their ignorance and unprofessionalism when it comes to IT services and particularly blocking improper website content.
    5. Three mobile network shows unambiguously that they don’t tolerate competition.

    etc etc…

    with 4 words: THREE YOUR INTERNET SUX!

    Conclusion: Three… bye bye… I’m out of your customer list. You are not getting my dollars any longer!

    xxx

  • Crozz, thanks for your comment! I was lucky enough to get out of my contract early on a technicality, and I was sick of not getting any response to my letters or emails.

    If you’re stuck with Three for the time being, you can get round their discriminatory content block by downloading an external browser such as Opera Mini to your phone rather than use the built-in browser.

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