A Canadian tech company Netsweeper is coming under fire for allegedly providing filtering software that censors LGBT content to anti-LGBT governments.
Both All Out and R3D have joined forces to bring this issue to light. The two organizations are asking the Canadian company to stop providing the filters to homophobic governments. The broader issue is they want the company to ensure clients are not using the technology to violate human rights.
Activists have started an online petition to end all censorship against LGBT individuals. They have also reached out to the Canadian government which is now reviewing their recommendations.
‘Helping countries like the UAE censor LGBTI content online, including life-saving information on HIV prevention, is a gross violation of international human rights guidelines,’ Senior Campaigns Manager at All Out Yuri Guaiana told Gay Star News.
‘We are glad the Canadian government agreed to review our recommendation that any additional financial support to Netsweeper will be made conditional on their commitment to human rights.’
Guaiana furthermore said that more than 27,000 people have signed the petition so far. They are asking Netsweeper to stop providing these filters censoring content identified as ‘Alternative Lifestyles’.
‘We’ll keep demanding that,’ Guaiana also added.
This is not the first time that Netsweeper has faced criticism.
Just last year Citizen Lab and security and human rights research group released a report on the use of Netsweeper in at least 10 countries, most cited for systematic human right problems. The group analyzed the countries of Afghanistan, Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, UAE, and Yemen.
‘Netsweeper’s services can easily be abused to help facilitate draconian controls on the public sphere by stifling access to information and freedom of expression,’ said Ronald Deibert, who runs Citizen Lab.
The detailed reports how the software works, in effect the software blocks Google searches for the LGBT-related keywords and non-pornographic websites by mischaracterizing them as sexually explicit.
Squirrel News has reached out to Netsweeper for comment but has not received a response.