We’ve written extensively over the last few days about Blue Coat Internet filtering software that was being misused by the Pentagon to ban/censor gay and progressive Web sites like AMERICAblog.
GLAAD and AMERICAblog are teaming up on a campaign to pressure Blue Coat to do the right thing and stop permitting its customers to censor non-sexually explicit gay content.
The filtering technology that the Defense Department is using, at least in some cases, is from a company called Blue Coat. Blue Coat has the ignominious distinction of being used by countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia (and possibly the junta in Burma as well) to oppress their people.
While the Pentagon, to its credit, is moving forward with investigating the problem of inconsistent, and possibly discriminatory, use of Internet filtering software on military computers, attention also must be focused on Blue Coat itself.
One glaring problem: As I’d reported on last week, Blue Coat includes in its filtering package a category of sites that you can either block or permit. One such category is “LGBT.” I’ve noted previously how Blue Coat defines LGBT:
That’s a rather innocuous category of sites to be blocking (and rather disturbing that it includes such important information as “anti-bullying” and “suicide prevention.” Not to mention, if the sites “are generally suitable for viewing by all age groups” and that are specifically deemed to be NOT sexually explicit, then why provide a means in which to ban them?
Blue Coat doesn’t have categories set up for other minority/civil rights communities. No category for African-Americans, or Latinos, or Jews. But there is a category for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender focused Web sites.
Now, to its credit, perhaps, Blue Coat seems to have set up the LGBT category so as not to simply include gay and trans Web sites along with “sex” sites. And that’s great, but you only get so many props for not accusing me of being a pervert.
There’s no excuse for Blue Coat to have created a discriminatory category titled “LGBT” that includes sites that are not sexually explicit and that, by Blue Coat’s own admission, are “generally suitable for viewing by all age groups.” This isn’t Syria. Blue Coat needs to drop the discriminatory LGBT category now.
Please sign the joint petition we’re running with GLAAD, a group that has been working on the Internet filtering software problem since the 1990s, and tell Blue Coat to stop helping its customers discriminate against gay and trans Web sites.