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Trevor Stone's Journal
Those who can, do. The rest hyperlink.
T-Mobile's Arbitrary Web Blockage 
15th-Feb-2011 12:12 am
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I don't use the telephone very much. Partly because I feel awkward on the phone and prefer to write emails. Partly because I dislike all the phone companies in the U.S. I was considering switching from using a Virgin Mobile prepaid plan (20 cents a minute in bi- or tri-monthly $20 payments on a super-simple cellphone) to a T-Mobile prepaid plan (10 cents a minute in a yearly $100 payment so I can use my Android Nexus S as a phone and not just a wifi pocket computer). The big advantage of the Android-on-T-Mobile approach would be the ability to access the Internet when WiFi isn't available through their $1.50-for-24-hours "Web Day Pass."

But the Prepaid Web Day Pass FAQ ends with this disturbing gem:
Why am I not able to view certain Web sites?
Web Guard is automatically active on Web Day Pass purchases and cannot be disabled. Some Web sites may be blocked due to the nature of the site, including but not limited to:
Abortion, Alcohol, Ammunition, Criminal Skills, Cults, Drugs, Firearms Accessories, Gambling, Guns, Hacking, Hate, Knives, Lifestyle, Martial Arts, Mature Content, Occult, Pornography, Suicide, Tobacco, Violence, Weapons.
Partially-restricted content includes the categories of Personals/Dating and Sex Education.
Seriously?!? I can't use T-Mobile's network to research abortion, but I can use it to call Planned Parenthood to make an appointment? I can't visit a website about tarot, but I can download a tarot app for my phone? I can't visit a site about marijuana, but I can call someone to invite them over for a trip? I can't watch a karate video, but I can watch a wrestling match? I can't access a site about guns and knives, but I can visit the Army recruiting site? And what exactly is blocked under "lifestyle?" Pages about asceticism?

There's no indication about how extensive the "may be blocked" criteria are, either. Can I access Wikipedia, which has pages about all of those things? Can I access a bar's website to find out when it's open? What if they also serve food?

Feh. It looks like I'll be continuing my avoid-accessing-mobile-phone-networks policy.

Update: According to the Web Guard FAQ, "The filter does not work with client server applications (such as the Opera Mini Browser)." So... does this only apply to T-Mobile's crappy web browser and is totally irrelevant on an Android? Of course, that page also uses the phrase "imbedded Web sites... within chat and text messaging," so I'm not sure it knows what it's talking about.
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