Content filtering in UK public libraries

  • Daniel Payne (Creator)
  • Sarah Arkle (Creator)
  • Jennifer Gallagher (Creator)
  • Stuart Lawson (Creator)
  • Jo Richardson (Creator)
  • Lauren Smith (Creator)
  • Katherine Stephan (Creator)



Most local authorities / bodies running library services in the UK block websites using third-party content filtering software. This software offers various categories of filtering (e.g. "pornography", "gambling", "weapons" etc.) and a local authority/body selects which of these categories it would like to block. In some instances, they will also block specific URLs.

A group of volunteers sent identical requests to public authorities under the Freedom of Information Act (2000) and the Freedom of Information Act (Scotland). Seven questions were asked to ascertain the extent of public authorities' filtering decisions, and these responses were tracked and made public via the website

This dataset represents a collation of these responses with individual links to the WDTK response, and attempts to map the extent of category-based web filtering on library public library PCs in the UK.

Key information such as list of categories blocked and name of filtering software have been included in the database, although the original response hosted on WDTK should be referred to in all circumstances to ensure accuracy.
Date made available17 Feb 2016

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