Feeds

Vodafone blocks World Cup, except for iPhone owners

Balls up

High performance access to file storage

Vodafone is still blocking RTSP streams, for the sake of the children, eight months after claiming the block was a temporary measure, thoughiPhone users remain free to stream what they like.

The block was instituted last October, and at that time Vodafone claimed it was a temporary measure while servers were being upgraded. That temporary measure turned into a long-term problem as fixes didn't materialise, and it became obvious that Vodafone's overprotective nature was restricting what users could stream - unless they owned an iPhone.

The problem is born of a combination of things: Ofcom's regulations that require mobile ISPs to take responsibility for the protection of children (unlike fixed ISPs); Vodafone's over-enthusiastic implementation of that responsibility along with its incompetence in doing so; and Apple's insistence on thinking different and thus side-stepping Vodafone's blocks.

Vodafone, in common with all the UK mobile operators, has a responsibility to ensure adult content is only available to adults. This is normally done by blocking all dodgy content by default, and then unblocking users once they've presented a credit card as proof of age.

Vodafone's problem is that their filtering software doesn't extend to RTSP (audio/video) streams, unlike some of the other operators. Rather than just allow everyone to stream anything, Vodafone blocks all RTSP streams then opens them to everyone on a URL-by-URL basis: the operator is not able to open streams to specific people which means anything remotely dodgy remains blocked to all.

And when we say “remotely dodgy” we really mean that: known providers of pornography such as the BBC and Channel 4 both fall foul of Vodafone's excessive zeal (which is inherited from K9 listings which, rather conservatively, rates streaming content). But it's not just video that suffers – streaming audio is similarly restricted. Worse than that – Vodafone can't block by domain, only by specific URL, so every stream requested must go through the approval process.

This doesn't apply for iPhone users: iPhone applications don't necessarily use RTSP for video and thus bypass Vodafone's blocks entirely: so iPhone owners can get all the smut they like.

All this was the subject of robust debate on the Vodafone Forums, until yesterday when the thread was closed with the removal of several postings – coincidentally just as we were investigating. Users interested in reopening the discussion should note the closing message:

Please don't start any new threads about this topic as we are doing all we can to streamline the process for you all to be able to request streaming URL's to be unblocked.

We will re-open the thread as we have more updates for you.

If any new threads appear about this subject we will be forced to close them without prior warning.

So if you're hoping to see the World Cup on your phone best not be with Vodafone. Or get yourself an iPhone... just don't let your children have a go with it, for the sake of all that is good and holy. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Virgin Media so, so SORRY for turning spam fire-hose on its punters
Hundreds of emails flood inboxes thanks to gaffe
A black box for your SUITCASE: Now your lost luggage can phone home – quite literally
Breakfast in London, lunch in NYC, and your clothes in Peru
AT&T dangles gigabit broadband plans over 100 US cities
So soon after a mulled Google Fiber expansion, fancy that
AT&T threatens to pull out of FCC wireless auctions over purchase limits
Company wants ability to buy more spectrum space in auction
Google looks to LTE and Wi-Fi to help it lube YouTube tubes
Bandwidth hogger needs tube embiggenment if it's to succeed
Turnbull gave NBN Co NO RULES to plan blackspot upgrades
NBN Co faces huge future Telstra bills and reduces fibre footprint
NBN Co plans fibre-to-the-basement blitz to beat cherry-pickers
Heading off at the pass operation given same priority as blackspot fixing
NBN Co in 'broadband kit we tested worked' STUNNER
Announcement of VDSL trial is not proof of concept for fibre-to-the-node
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.