This is becoming a serious problem (and it’s also quite an interesting national news story, for any reporters out there).
I’ve gotten reports over the years that our blog has been blocked in numerous locations around the country (O’Hare) and world (China) because we are, supposedly, a porn site. This has happened in numerous airports, to me and my readers, and the most recent report is from a Marriott hotel in Park Ridge, New Jersey. In that instance, the hotel computer in the business center reportedly blocked access to AMERICAblog, explaining that the site contained the word “lesbian.” Andrew Sullivan’s blog, which contained the word “gay,” was not blocked, per my reader. (I also received a report the other day that a DOD computer was blocking AMERICAblog as well).
[Let’s put aside for a moment that for years Marriott has had no problem selling porn to its hotel customers. Maybe they think we’re competition.]
In some cases, I suspect that these Internet filters at workplaces may be blocking blogs in general by blocking the Google Blogger address (blogspot.com) that many blogs use. But in our case, I know for a fact that we’re being banned by some of these filters because we report on gay issues – I personally witnessed one computer in an airport tell me that our site was a “porn” site and thus banned. Other than gay issues, what political issue do we write about that could be perceived as “porn”?
As an aside, I wonder to what degree these filters are still banning discussions of breast cancer (they have before) and other topics that should be totally acceptable at a Marriott or an airport. Or to what degree they’re banning one political party more than the other? This is the kind of issue that our gay groups should be jumping on. It’s the kind of issue that doesn’t just affect our blog, it affects every Web site that every writes about gays and lesbians. And it does so in a way that most of will never even know that it’s being done, and in a way that we can never even hope to resolve since the services are so veiled in how they do what they do, and since there are so many of them. Kind of begs for federal regulation to guarantee free speech.
It’s also an issue that could adversely affect the discussion of Democratic politics online, to the extent that these companies have any political allegiances.
Democrats, are you listening?