Most UK ISPs block Private Internet Access by default

Posted on Jun 7, 2017 by Caleb Chen

uk isps censor

VPN websites, like that of Private Internet Access, are actively being censored by internet service providers (ISPs) in the United Kingdom (UK). The website blocks were first put into place by UK ISPs on government order in an effort to censor pornography in 2014. Since then, more ISPs have joined in default blocking. However, research has shown that the blocks are overreaching – with 1 in 5 websites being blocked when the censorship program first rolled out. UK ISPs initially incorrectly blocked everything from civil rights blogs to used car sales sites; what’s worse, these blocks are on by default.

Open Rights Group, a London-based organization, created a tool at blocked.org.uk that allows you to check whether or not a website is being blocked by UK ISPs. This crucial tool has revealed that most UK ISPs block Private Internet Access by default if the content filter is on.

Note: Sky and TalkTalk ship with “default on” filters while BT and Virgin Media still don’t. This article originally mentioned AAISP as an ISP that blocked the https version of privateinternetaccess.com because test results on that day showed an error/lack of connection, AAISP has since clarified that they do not have any default blocks.

The UK has millions of internet users, the majority of which can’t access the PIA homepage

According to the Office of National Statistics, the percentage of the population in the United Kingdom (UK) that has used the internet in the last 3 months is a whopping 89%. Internet penetration in the UK surpasses that of neighboring European countries and even the United States.

Many of the United Kingdom’s internet users, close to 60 million total, are unable to access the Private Internet Access homepage, even if they can read this article on our blog. According to Blocked.org.uk, users of O2, Sky, Virgin, and Three with adult filters on will be unable to access this site (https://www.privateinternetaccess.com) while users of Vodafone and EE will also be unable to access this site (http://www.privateinternetaccess.com). You can see the full results of the tests here and here.

Of the four UK ISPs (BT/PlusNet/EE, Sky Broadband, Virgin Media, and TalkTalk) with the most subscribers, three are blocking Private Internet Access. Additionally, since access to the internet through public wifi hotspots is largely provided by Arquiva, BT, Sky, Nomad, Virgin Media, and O2, the vast majority of these users are unable to access Private Internet Access, either. Suffice to say, censorship is still rampant in the UK. A new, more censored internet – as promised by Theresa May – has already arrived.

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Disclosure: Private Internet Access is a financial supporter of Open Rights Group

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18 Comments

  1. Gordon Brown

    I’m with BT and three, no problem accessing PIA on either.

    3 years ago
  2. Stuart Fanning

    I have Virgin Media Broadband and PIA is not blocked.

    3 years ago
  3. lwsrbrts

    I agree, the problem here is that this censorship is overreaching on its mandate. It was designed to keep children safe from inadvertently accessing pornography. The problem now is that since this is clearly not working, they introduced the Digital Economy Act which brings in more censorship of pornography and Theresa May is still not happy because she wants backdoors to encrypted communications as well. The UK government is unequivocal in its pursuit of having access to every one of its citizens’ private data, to hell with their human rights and any basic right to privacy! I am utterly horrified by the language the government use but the electorate is apathetic and believes that because the government want it, it must be OK. Unfortunately, it will be too late once any new powers have gone through and trying to have them rescinded will be an exercise in futility since anyone silly enough to challenge the government will be subjected to smear by investigation or ridicule from leaks about their private life. We have essentially already sealed our fate by ignoring this.

    3 years ago
  4. Simon

    Plusnet subscriber here, PIA is not blocked for me, and yes, I did turn PIA VPN off to test it !

    3 years ago
    1. Caleb Chen

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Simon! Plusnet is not one of the UK ISPs blocking privateinternetaccess.com at this moment.

      3 years ago
  5. Matteysan

    Hi, Sky subscriber here, PIA is not blocked…

    3 years ago
    1. Caleb Chen

      Hello, Matteysan!

      Thanks for your valuable input. Did you turn off Sky Broadband Shield?

      3 years ago
      1. Matteysan

        Broadband Shield has always been off. Maybe that is why it has been blocked I guess? I don’t intend to turn it on to test it though. Also I am on Three & it isn’t blocked on there either.

        3 years ago