Double Standards in Filtering Software


Wired has this very interesting article on other potential problems with filtering softare.
\"Blocking software, long criticized for mislabeling innocuous websites as pornographic, now has a new problem: accusations of double standards.

The most popular filtering programs allow their users to freely visit the websites of arch-conservative groups like Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America, which feature strident denunciations of homosexuality. But when those identical fulminations against lesbians and gays were duplicated and placed on personal Web pages, Cyberpatrol, Surfwatch, and four other programs quickly added the addresses to their off-limits blacklists.

\"As a test, anti-filtering activists at Peacefire copied anti-gay excerpts from conservative publications to four websites on Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire, and TheGlobe.

After the links were submitted to the companies, each of the four sites was blocked as \"hate speech\" or otherwise labeled as verboten.\"

\"I can see why it would be called be called hate speech,\" said George Jelatis, senior technical architect at Secure Computing, which sells Smartfilter to corporations.

Referring to the second paragraph of Geocities\' \"Straight Talk on \'Gay Rights\'\", which is excerpted from a Concerned Women for America publication and says \"the truth of the matter is that homosexuality is an immoral behavior that can be changed,\" Jelatis admitted that \"there are people who would consider this (a) speech that would produce a hostile atmosphere in the workplace.\"

But Jelatis couldn\'t explain why the original document at Concerned Women for America was readily available to Smartfilter users.

\"I\'d have to go back and review the polices. But I think what you\'d find that we do is that we don\'t necessarily take controversial sites where we get one request and make a very painful decision without discussing it. We look at is this coming in multiple times,\" Jelatis said.\"

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