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Pentagon blocks LGBT websites for ‘operational security reasons’

Friday, January 4, 2013

More than 15 months since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the military’s former ban on openly gay service members, the U.S. Department of Defense continues to block access to websites it categorizes as LGBT.

According to a report by AmericaBLOG, parts of the Defense Department is currently blocking access from military computers and users on its network from accessing a number of popular LGBT blogs and websites — including AmericaBlog, Towleroad, JoeMyGod, Bilerico and the Human Rights Campaign — while permitting access to anti-LGBT blogs, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and the Family Research Council (FRC).

LGBTQ Nation has also learned that the block extends to LGBTQ Nation and The Advocate.

But, in a statement posted to its Facebook page on Friday, the Defense Department said it “does not block LGBT websites,” but instead blocks personal webpages and “blogs.”

We’ve received some questions/comment recently about DOD’s web access policies, and wanted to provide this statement:

The Department of Defense does not block LGBT websites. The pages referenced in several recent articles were denied access based on web filters blocking the “Blog/Personal Pages” category, not the specific sites themselves. While individuals on a DoD system may visit portions of the main websites (i.e., www.towleroad.com, www.AMERICAblog.com), certain additional links/pages – to include personal blogs – are blocked. Personal pages and blogs are blocked in accordance with DoD policy allowing military commanders the option to restrict access to personal pages for operational security reasons.

In his report, John Aravosis, editor at AmericaBlog, points out that, contrary to the DOD statement that “personal pages and blogs are blocked” as a matter of policy, the filtering does not apply to blogs by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck — but does apply to the website of Josh Seefried, one of the co-founders of OutServe, an organization that was influential in the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The filtering also appears to apply to “political action/LGBT” blogs, as the HRC, AmericaBlog and Pam’s House Blend have been categorized, but not anti-LGBT “political action” blogs operated by the NOM, FRC, American Family Association, Red State, and Brietbart.

The censorship varies depending on service and geographical region, but sources indicate the filtering is more widespread withing the branch of the Air Force.

The screenshots published on AmericaBlog indicate that the Pentagon relies on California-based Blue Coat Systems, an internet security company, for its website filtering. Blue Coat categorizes website content into dozens of sections for filtering purposes, which include “adult/mature,” “instant messaging,” “child pornography,” “hacking” and “entertainment,” as well as “LGBT” and “Alternative sexuality.”

Network administrators, in this case the Pentagon, determine which filters are enabled or disabled.

Blue Coat’s LGBT filter includes “websites that provide reference materials, news, legal information, anti-bullying and suicide-prevention information, and other resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (“LGBT”) people or that relate to LGBT civil rights.”

The websites included in this category were selected because they do not contain sexually explicit content and are generally suitable for viewing by all age groups.

On their website, Blue Coat has published a statement that advises clients that websites branded as LGBT “do not contain sexually explicit content and are generally suitable for viewing by all age groups,” and do not necessarily warrant censoring.

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23 more reader comments:

  1. SHAME

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7:16pm
  2. Our amazing government is at work..

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7:20pm
  3. Our government just keeps showing how anti-gay they still are

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7:21pm
  4. Wtf

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7:23pm
  5. Operational my ass

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7:27pm
  6. wow. This REALLY kind of pisses me off.

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7:33pm
  7. Why am I NOT surprised?

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7:52pm
  8. Oh, but doesn’t everybody know? LGBTQs are a national security threat, duh. Just ask any dingbat, right-wing extremist (a totally credible source, btw.)

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7:59pm
  9. What ever happened to all men are created equal. It doesn’t say all men are created equal, except for this group of people and this group of people and this group of people. By definition what they are doing is against what the Declaration of Independence stands for which our country is built on. They cannot quote the Founding Fathers and then go against them when they feel like it. Our government is hypocritical. Plain and simple.

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 7:59pm
  10. and that’s how Barack Obama thanks gay men and lesbians serving in the military – oh wait he is also thanking them by letting gay bashing thug Hagel run the Pentagon

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 8:01pm
  11. Paul- I agree that we are a far cry from notions of true equality that America is SUPPOSED to be founded on, but when that line in the Declaration of Indedepence was written, it was literally intended to mean “all white heterosexual men in power.” Not women. Not black men. Not Latinos. Not poor people. Not anyone belonging to groups that have been historically disenfranchized due to difference. Unfortunately, racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of power-driven discrimination have been and continue to be perpetuated systematically across US social norms and institutions.

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 8:10pm
  12. Fishy….

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 8:45pm
  13. My works website monitoring/blocking software also blocked a lot of gay websites.

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 8:47pm
  14. DOD had always been screwy with the way they block…I’m retired AF and let me tell you I see government civilians and active duty friends on facebook all day.. I would think FB is the biggest personal blog out there.. How does anyone get their work done if they are online?? If you ban one- ban them all.

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 8:53pm
  15. WTF?

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 9:43pm
  16. o come on, my own employer blocks its own websites. can qe cry over something else? if u are working at the pentagon you should not be facebooking or googling or anything but what pertains to your job.

    Posted on Friday, January 4, 2013 at 11:11pm
  17. What a crock!

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 11:08am
  18. Maybe they’re blocking anything not work related. We’ll see how this goes

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 11:17am
  19. Fear makes people do stupid things. Like this.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 11:26am
  20. Ok — someone needs to stop this crap.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 11:43am
  21. Not only does fear make people do stupid things, it makes people stupid!

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 11:59am
  22. freedom and openess is not fully realized.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 12:41pm
  23. FUCKHEADS, get their heads outta their asses and stop sodomizing themselves.

    Posted on Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 9:40pm