One of the world’s largest website censors has finally agreed to drop its software’s blanket blocking of gay and lesbian websites.
California-based Symantec sells software allowing schools, public libraries and companies to bock or filter “offensive” websites, including on the basis of sexual orientation.
Websites that provide news, information and other resources to LGBT people are affected by the sexual orientation filter, even if their content is not of an adult nature. This has special significance for LGBT youth attempting to find online support or information.
On Tuesday, it was announced that the company will remove the sexual orientation censoring option and will now treat gay and lesbian sites like any others, blocking them only if they have adult or inappropriate content.
American gay media advocacy group GLAAD revealed that it had assisted Symantec with the change, which is in the process of being implemented at the product level.
It said that this “will mean that LGBT-related web content will be evaluated, categorised, and treated the same as other news, political and entertainment content.”
GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, commented that “Symantec gets it. By removing this outdated filter category, Symantec is helping to ensure that countless young LGBT people have access to critical and sometimes life-saving online resources.”
Fran Rosch, Executive Vice President, Norton Business Unit, Symantec, told AP: “Making this change was not only the right thing to do, it was a good business decision
“Having a category in place that could be used to filter out all LGBT-oriented sites was inconsistent with Symantec’s values and the mission of our software,” he said.
A number of other web filtering software companies continue to allow the blocking of sites solely on the basis of sexual orientation.