British internet service provider, TalkTalk has decided LGBT LD – the Liberal Democrats’ official LGBT site – is pornographic, and not suitable for children.
Embarrassingly for TalkTalk, the block came to light after a Liberal Democrat councilor complained about another ‘porn’ filter – stopping people seeing the innocent and essential gay counseling and support service, London Friend.
And it’s twice as awkward because the Lib Dems are in a coalition government with the Conservatives who have championed the policy of filtering the internet to protect children.
But with the blocking currently unregulated, unaccountable and secretive, LGBTI websites have repeatedly been in the frontline of unfair filters.
Yesterday the block on LGBT charity London friend was described as a categorization error or ‘mistake’.
That was attacked by Lib Dem councilor and activist Sarah Brown who condemned the new ‘Firewall of Great Britain’ created by filters that fail to block porn, while simultaneously blocking a range of legitimate sex educational and health advice sites.
As Gay Star News reported some weeks back, the occasional mistake is just an embarrassment for the company doing it.
But if filtering or blocking software has been constructed so it disproportionately or unfairly blocks LGBTI sites, this is likely to be illegal discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
UPDATE: A TalkTalk spokesperson has now responded.
He said: ‘We’re pleased that this has been brought to our attention, clearly this website should not have been classified in this way and we have lifted the block.
‘We’ve always been clear that there will be a small number of websites which are filtered in error, as unfortunately no filtering solution can ever be 100% perfect, and we’ve a simple one click reporting button that anyone can use to tell us if they think this is the case. We’re continually developing HomeSafe and welcome feedback of this nature.’