I'm a Sky Broadband user, and a few hours ago I lost the ability to connect to imgur, including i.stack.imgur.com. All attempts to connect to any URL on imgur.com time out.

As a result, most of the images in questions and answers on StackOverflow don't load for me right now, and nor do some people's avatars. Pretty much every page I visit on StackOverflow, I get a loading spinner under my cursor that lasts forever, which doesn't render the site unusable, but is really annoying.

The issue is being discussed on Reddit, where it's speculated that Sky is blocking imgur.com due to it being blacklisted by the Internet Watch Foundation.

I'm posting this so that others experiencing the same problem and coming to Meta know that it's not just them, to make devs and whomever it may concern aware of the situation, and to enable discussion and speculation about whether this blocking is likely to be permanent and whether it's likely to be implemented by other ISPs in the UK.

  • Ah, glad you found that you are not the only one! Well, not glad, really, but you know what I mean. – Martijn Pieters Dec 14 '13 at 19:42
  • @MartijnPieters Me too. Took me a surprisingly long time to track down what the heck was going on. – Mark Amery Dec 14 '13 at 19:43
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    The core of the problem appears to be imgur.com hosting NSFW and even full scale porn pictures, so I think the only real solution will be to change i.stack.imgur.com to a different domain. – Shadow The Vaccinated Wizard Dec 14 '13 at 19:52
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    The only real solution is arguably Sky stopping this silly attempt to block NSFW content. (But yeah @Sha I see your point) – Pekka Dec 14 '13 at 19:54
  • The block seems to have just been lifted. StackOverflow works properly for me again. – Mark Amery Dec 14 '13 at 20:09
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    @Pëkka It's worth noting here that the problem is not that the things they're targeting for censorship are unreasonable - the IWF only blacklists over porn that's criminally obscene under UK law, and based on my limited knowledge I think that means just child porn, real people being really raped, sex acts involving mutilation or serious injury, and bestiality. I don't particularly mind those things being blocked, as long as the filters are fine-grained. The idiocy is in the blocking of whole domains full of user-generated content because some tiny fraction of that content is infringing. – Mark Amery Dec 14 '13 at 20:14
  • @Mark yeah, I agree. The fundamental "problem" is that everyone is free to upload to imgur - it's just a question of time until that is misused for really bad stuff. From an ISP's perspective, shutting down the whole domain is probably the only logical choice, but it's not a solution.... – Pekka Dec 14 '13 at 20:17
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You should complain to Sky Broadband if they broke their internet service. They sell you internet access and it's not working as it's supposed to. Ask for them to fix it or to give your money back.

  • I don't know for sure, but I doubt I'd have a leg to stand on legally. The IWF claims to only blacklist sites that host child pornography or other criminally obscene content (whatever that means). I have no idea what particular content triggered this block, nor do I know what my contract with Sky Broadband says about censorship of domains hosting criminal material, nor do I know what English statute law says about the matter, but I doubt Sky would do this if it enabled all their customers to demand refunds or sue them. – Mark Amery Dec 14 '13 at 20:02
  • I like and share your sentiment, of course. But practically speaking, this isn't a helpful response. – Mark Amery Dec 14 '13 at 20:03
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    @MarkAmery - I can assure you that any such usage reported to us of i.stack.imgur.com will be removed. – Oded Dec 14 '13 at 20:03
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    @MarkAmery While you might not be able to force them to unblock it, you can certainly complain. – CodesInChaos Dec 14 '13 at 20:06
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    @MarkAmery: They broke all the pictures on Stack Exchange, Reddit and wherever else. None of which are child pornography or otherwise obscene. Lots of not obscenity related stuff isn't working properly. Of course that's a practical reason to call them and complain. – sth Dec 14 '13 at 20:57
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    @Mark I think you'd have a very strong case for a complaint. OFCOM (UK regulator in this area) says that "ISPs should not use the term ‘internet access’ to refer to a service that blocks lawfully available internet services". So you can/should complain and if they don't take it seriously I'd expect you'd have a good argument to make to the ombudsman service that Sky are subscribed to. – Flexo Dec 14 '13 at 21:36
  • @Flexo I'm not going to complain in this case, since the domain was only blocked for 2 or 3 hours - clearly they realised reasonably quickly that what they'd just done was a bad idea. But thanks for the info - I'll keep that in mind if this ever happens again. – Mark Amery Dec 14 '13 at 21:46
  • Your answer is actually here: torrentfreak.com/… – jduncanator Jan 16 '14 at 1:54

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