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 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 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, users of O2, Sky, Virgin, and Three with adult filters on will be unable to access this site ( while users of Vodafone and EE will also be unable to access this site ( 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

Comments are closed.


  1. james

    im from london and i cant login to your android app since some days ago, what i do?

    7 years ago

    My vpn is not blocked. i am using ivacy and it is steaming the UK Netflix videos.

    7 years ago
  3. foolishpiacustomer

    Awesome that these guys respond to blog posts, but not support requests!

    7 years ago
  4. AAISP

    This is not true. AAISP – as you should know, being fellow supporters of Open Rights Group, do NOT block!
    Please update this post. (We actually help run the website!)

    7 years ago
    1. Caleb Chen

      I have updated the article for with the correction and I deeply apologize for the confusion. The results from showed a lack of connection on that day for the https site, but it is all clear now. Thank you for all your support with!

      7 years ago
      1. AAISP

        at 16:19BST, it still says ‘ According to, users of O2, Sky, AAISP, Virgin, and Three with adult filters on will be unable to access this site’ – we have no filters :-)

        7 years ago
  5. Lewis Baker

    I find this post very clickbaity and pretty disingenuous, and almost misleading considering most comments are “I’m on X and it’s not blocked!” which shows a lot of the readers don’t actually realise you’re talking about the network-level adult content filtering which the majority of internet users have not opted in to or had opted out of at signup.

    While I agree that default-on filtering is a completely stupid idea, as the article says only Sky and TalkTalk actually operate a default-on filtering program, everyone else uses opt-in. Ofcom has released multiple reports about filtering uptake and it is consistently shown to be extremely low, <10% of new customers, on most ISPs and <5% for some, only TalkTalk has a higher uptake. So actually the vast majority of internet users aren't affected by it, and the ones who are (people with filtering enabled) probably want VPNs blocked so their kids can't bypass it so easily anyway.

    7 years ago
    1. Caleb Chen

      Thanks for your comment, Lewis!

      Ofcom’s last report was for 2015 and even then the results showed that Sky had significantly higher than 10% uptake among all their connected homes.

      In 2015, 26% of internet connections had blocks

      Specifically, the 2015 ofcom report places Sky Broadband Shield use at 30-40% while Sky themselves claimed 70%.

      Also, in the time since 2015, TalkTalk and Sky and many other ISPs and telecoms do force 100% of new customers to have this filter “default on.”

      7 years ago
      1. Lewis Baker

        We’re in complete agreement that the default-on system is wrong but where we differ is the supposed impact this has on the vast majority of internet users and in turn people concerned about internet privacy. 26% of internet connections is still well below the percentage of UK households with children so the likelihood that any meaningful share of those are unwillingly caught up in the system is pretty low. The majority of people who have these filters enabled are going to want VPN sites blocked along with whatever offensive material they perceive they’re protecting their children from, so that their children can’t simply use one of the popular VPN providers to bypass it.

        When you look at the comments here and those on facebook you can clearly see at the very least a misunderstanding by a lot of people surrounding this post, as everyone’s posting “I’m on X and it’s not blocked!” not understanding that when you say “Most UK ISPs block Private Internet Access by default” that “by default” means if they haven’t opted-out of the adult content filtering and if they’ve even switched ISPs in the last few years, which by uSwitch’s statistics some 30% of internet users have never switched and so would not be subject to ever being asked about those systems anyway. That’s misleading clickbait to me.

        7 years ago