UK broadband provider BT blocks all online dating websites

After another busy day of development, PR and marketing for our portfolio of dating websites I sat down before dinner to check how our latest survey was progressing only to find that BT (British Telecom) have blocked all online dating sites.

I now have to login to my account with BT and unblock my own sites to continue to run the business. So what impact is this going to have on the dating business as a whole? It’s early days as this block has just been switched on in the past few hours but here are my first thoughts.

Loss in traffic and revenue

The first affect I expect to see is a loss in traffic. From Google Analytics about 1.3% of our traffic to is from the BT home network. Over time, people will lift the blocks (with difficulty, see later) but in the short term this will result in a 1.3% loss in revenue.

Google Adwords charges

As the block happens when you try to access the site any paid advertising such as Google Adwords will be wasted. If you click a sponsored link you arrive at a BT block page. Some companies will be wasting $1 to $3 every time this happens. Any other paid advertising will also be affected. For example, sending newsletters and banner adverts.

Turning off the blocks

I have 16 years of web development experience, developed numerous websites, I can build a computer from scratch and I have an IQ of 140. So how easy was removing the block?

The default block page looks like this:

Saucydates blocked by BT

On clicking allow access I was presented with an error, after a bit of research it is due to parental controls not being linked to my BT account. I expect almost every BT customer will see this problem and many will give up at this stage. Only customers who have switched on the parental controls before today will be able to make changes from this page.

I logged into BT and looked for parental controls. It was not easy to find as the site is full of cross sell and up sell marketing material. I performed a site search, which resulted in a FAQ that didn’t match the current site design and a lot more sales and marketing pages. When this happens the best tactic I can suggest is to use Google and search outside of the provider’s knowledge base. I found from this search that I needed to look for a section called My Extras, which after a bit more searching I located.

This allowed me to link my BT account to the parental controls. They needed to be set up which requires a 2 hour wait or for me to power off and on the router / hub. This allows me to use the unblock feature on the original block page. However, at this stage I opted to turn off parental controls completely (which still required a power off and on).

I expect that most BT customer will find it difficult to remove / adjust these settings and I expect as of this evening BT customer support will be overloaded with people asking for dating (and porn) to be switched back on!

What is blocked by default?

BT have turned on ‘light’ blocking automatically which is the lowest level of filtering. Here is the full table:

Category Light Medium Strict


blocked blocked blocked

Obscene & tasteless

blocked blocked blocked

Hate & self harm

blocked blocked blocked


blocked blocked blocked

Alcohol & Tobacco

blocked blocked blocked


blocked blocked blocked


open blocked blocked

Weapons & Violence

open blocked blocked


open blocked blocked

Social Networking

open blocked blocked

Fashion & Beauty

open open blocked

File Sharing

open open blocked


open open blocked

Media Streaming

open open blocked

Search Engines

open open open

Sex Education

open open open

Thoughts about this table

Is dating more or less dangerous than social networking?

Shouldn’t nudity be blocked over dating?

Is dating worse than weapons and violence?

And my favourite one of all is: File sharing (which will mainly be an illegal activity) is only blocked at the highest level.


I think these initial changes will be bad for the dating industry. I expect most BT residential customers will not adjust their settings. If other broadband providers follow then the drop in traffic and revenue will be very significant. Dating businesses with a large UK customer base are likely to hurt the most over the coming years however the shift in mobile usage will be a life line as most networks have over 18 content switched on if you’re an adult and adjusting the settings is a simple on / off process.

The best action for the dating industry is to lobby as a single voice to have default blocks to exclude online dating. My company is in, would anyone else like to join?

Tags: , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply