Last week someone from the No to the Bike Parking Tax campaign contacted me to ask whether I could provide a PA system for a demo (which happened on Tuesday evening in London). The campaign is attempting to overturn the introduction of parking levies for motorbikes and scooters by Westminster City Council. I do own a motorbike (an old 850 Guzzi) but I am ambivalent about this campaign and in any case I was not able to help. However, I did say I would let my motorcyclist friends know about the protest – easier said than done as it turns out!
When I tried sending an email containing the URL of the campaign it was rejected by smtp1.bethere.co.uk and I thought that either there was a general problem with the server or it didn’t like the recipient email address for some reason. Further testing revealed that it was simply refusing to send any email to anyone if it contained that specific URL, giving “554 Message Refused”. I phoned bethere and they said they were having general email problems, but I explained the issue and the person basically admitted that it might be because the URL is on a blacklist. I have since found out that at least one other person has noticed this, and that at least one other person has been able to send the URL via a different SMTP server. I tried again today and email containing the URL is still being blocked.
It is not yet clear to me whether the URL is only being blocked by bethere or whether it is on a third party blacklist that bethere uses. Given that the “No to the Bike Parking Tax” public forum has been forced to close due to legal threats from Westminster City Council it would not surprise me if they were behind this apparent censorship.