More fun with internet filtering

My agency has started using FortiGuard to filter our internet. Other than a few blips ( was blocked due to being "pornography" until a few days ago), it seems to suck less than most filtering. As with most internet filters, the only sites that have been blocked were ones that I legitimately needed for work purposes, yet it's quite easy to pull up any number of illegal and inappropriate websites.

I didn't actually do so, because, um, number one, I'm at work, and number two, it's easier just to go to the filtering company's website and see how they have sites categorized. My workplace is only blocking pornography, weapon sales, gambling, and malware sites, which I suppose is reasonable if they're going to filter at all (see "I can still access porn, but legitimate sites are blocked, op cit). and are listed as "advocacy organizations." So I filled out a request that these sites be reviewed and relisted as "racism and hate."

Here's FortiGuard's description of the category:

Racism and Hate: Sites that foster racial supremacy or vilify/discriminate against groups or individuals by race, colour, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, etc.

Yep, that would be accurate. The only reason these organizations exist is to target GLBT folks. The sites are full of slurs ("sodomite marriages," anyone?) and clearly express that we don't deserve equal rights.

There are some sites (you know, those alleged "pro-family" sites) that I personally believe are hate sites, but which at least present information in a somewhat professional manner and contain a good deal of content not related to promoting discrimination. I wouldn't ask that an internet filtering company list these sites as being "racism and hate." I would prefer that they only use "advocacy organizations" for more neutral causes like illnesses. I don't think everything I disagree with needs to be called "hate," but I do think that sites that only exist to promote discrimination should be labeled as such. FortiGuard specifically lists "sexual orientation" in their description of what constitutes a hate site, so it totally fits.

So, I got an automated e-mail thing back, saying they'd reviewed the sites, and they've recategorized them as "homosexuality."


Homosexuality: This category features subject matter on Gays, Lesbians and Bisexuals, including non-pornographic related links such as personals, dating, and on-line shopping.

Dating, on-line shopping, and, uh, being called obscenities and told our families shouldn't have civil rights?

I wrote back and told them that I found this new categorization even more offensive, and explained again that these sites are full of slurs and exist only to advocate discrimination. They wrote back again and said that they're now categorized as "personal websites." OK, so that's acceptable, but still. At least is categorized as "racism and hate." I wonder why they can't see that Massresistance is really the same stuff with just slightly less profanity.


Lyss said...

can you view the Planned Parenthood website? or is it deemed pornographic, because it mentions "female issues"?

eeka said...

Oh, they didn't block stuff like that (we ARE a human services agency after all...). Though I discovered that they have "racism and hate" blocked.

The biggest problem most of us have with this is that administrators in the various divisions weren't even informed, let alone included in the decision. It isn't the place of the IT department to choose what to block (aside from blocking sites that are very likely to harm the computer). I did discover that "racism and hate" is blocked. On more than one occasion, I've had a legitimate reason to look at one of these sites -- our clients are often targets of cult-like groups, so I've often checked out groups that clients have suddenly joined. Some of these have been racist/homophobic/anti-semitic/whatever cult groups. Those sites are now blocked.

I suppose what really offends me is that they'd think for a second that blocking the sites would be an effective way to address overt racism on the part of staff.