Man blocked from his ‘porno’ Bible app

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INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Donald Grieve with this phone. Picture: Jacques Naude

Durban - While there are some saucy moments in the Bible, a Durban man didn’t expect to be locked out of his digital Bible app owing to inappropriate “adult content”.

Donald Grieve, 51, was offended when he tried to access an electronic Bible on his smart phone while at the Vineyard Church in Morningside on Sunday, but was blocked.

He blamed his service provider, Vodacom, for the filter, which classified the Bible as a pornographic site.

He had used the YouVersion application – which has millions of users around the globe – for about six years and it was the first time he had experienced this problem.

“I was not even reading text like Song of Solomon, but the Gospel of Matthew,” he said.

The biblical Song of Solomon records the voices of two lovers, praising and yearning for each other.

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The message Grieve received on his phone, enlarged, when trying to access his online Bible. Pictures: Jacques Naude

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He accepted this might not be a widespread problem, “but the response from Vodacom, by the text they sent me, is that I need to verify my age as over 18, after I had clearly expressed that I was trying to access an online Bible”.

When Grieve phoned the call centre for help, he was sent from pillar to post.

“They chose to push me all around the houses, ignoring me, putting me on hold forever. They did not want to engage with me,” he said. After several calls, he said the requirement to prove his age seemed to infer that the call centre agents still accepted that the servers were routing correctly.

He said this could have been easily resolved with a simple discussion at an appropriate level.

“The way Vodacom has reacted is by delaying reply, followed by inappropriate requests and misdirection pointing to an age verification issue, rather than acknowledging or investigating that they may have a fault in the servers/IT routers which are causing the fault,” he said.

“Through whatever they are filtering in the screen processes, they have decided or determined that the Bible application is pornographic and I have to be over 18 to read it, which is not fair. It is so wrong on many levels,” he said.

On Monday, when he followed up on the problem, he received a message from Vodacom’s Andre Liberty, which said:

“To unblock age restriction, we need a copy of your ID and the name of the Vodacom shop that failed to assist you. Please fax a copy of your ID with the name of the Vodacom shop.”

Grieve said that he then felt he had run out of options, as no one was keen to help him.

Vodacom spokesman Richard Boorman told The Mercury that the service provider would not intentionally restrict access to this kind of content and that they had not seen a complaint along these lines before.

“We’ll need to run an investigation, which may take a few days,” he said.

Boorman said Vodacom would have a detailed response once the investigation was complete.

The Mercury


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