At TorrentFreak we regularly write about website blocking efforts around the globe, usually related to well-known pirate sites.
Unfortunately, our own news site is not immune to access restrictions either. While no court has ordered ISPs to block access to our articles, some are doing this voluntarily.
This is especially true for companies that provide Wi-Fi hotspots, such as Datavalet. This wireless network provider works with various large organizations, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, and airports, to offer customers free Internet access.
Or rather to a part of the public Internet, we should say.
Over the past several months, we have had several reports from people who are unable to access TorrentFreak on Datavalet’s network. Users who load our website get an ominous warning instead, suggesting that we run some kind of a criminal hacking operation.
“Access to TORRENTFREAK.COM is not permitted as it is classified as: CRIMINAL SKILLS / HACKING.”
Although we see ourselves as skilled writing news in our small niche, which incidentally covers crime and hacking, our own hacking skills are below par. Admittedly, mistakes are easily made but Datavalet’s blocking efforts are rather persistent.
The same issue was brought to our attention several years ago. At the time, we reached out to Datavalet and a friendly senior network analyst promised that they would look into it.
“We have forwarded your concerns to the proper resources and as soon as we have an update we will let you know,” the response was. But a few years later the block is still active, or active again.
Datavalet is just one one the many networks where TorrentFreak is blocked. Often, we are categorized as a file-sharing site, probably due to the word “torrent” in our name. This recently happened at the NYC Brooklyn library, for example.
After a reader kindly informed the library that we’re a news site, we were suddenly transferred from the “Peer-to-Peer File Sharing” to the “Proxy Avoidance” category.
“It appears that the website you want to access falls under the category ‘Proxy Avoidance’. These are sites that provide information about how to bypass proxy server features or to gain access to URLs in any way that bypass the proxy server,” the library explained.
Still blocked of course.
At least we’re not the only site facing this censorship battle. Datavelet and others regularly engage in overblocking to keep their network and customers safe. For example, Reddit was recently banned because it offered “nudity,” which is another no-go area.
Living up to our “proxy avoidance” reputation, we have to mention that people who regularly face these type of restrictions may want to invest in a VPN. These are generally quite good at bypassing these type of blockades. If they are not blocked themselves, that is.