There's a lot of talk flying around about the likely effect of the Leveson legislation on bloggers and websites like Grumpy Old Sod. Rather ironic, isn't it, that a bunch of celebrities angry about press intrusions into their privacy should respond by interfering with the privacy of people who write stuff on the internet – people who were at no time and in no way involved in the phone-hacking. Still, it's all part of the so-called “liberal” left's ongoing campaign to silence all dissent, isn't it? They did it when they were in power under Blair and Harriet “Harridan” Harman, they're still working diligently away while they're in opposition, and we all know what to expect if they get back in 2015.
But legislation rarely reaches the streets with all the teeth it was born with, and there's a more pressing threat to our freedom of speech to deal with. American software giant Symantec and mobile phone provider O2 have combined to block a number of websites concerned with issues like domestic violence or sexual abuse against men by calling them “hate” sites. As John Kimble wrote recently on the Rights of Man website ...
By now most people are aware of the issue of men's rights websites being wrongly blocked by Symantec and various mobile phone companies due to them somehow being flagged as "hate sites". I've done further investigations and can exclusively reveal the official response from these companies on this matter. There tends to be a bit of confusion about this issue and so firstly I'll attempt to explain what's going on and tackle some misconceptions.
Which sites are blocked? I initially identified 48 sites blocked by Symantec/O2 and flagged as "hate sites". The list then grew to 58 as even more were identified. It's fair to say that a majority of key sites critical of feminism and supportive of men's rights are blocked.
What exactly does this mean for the sites concerned? The "hate site" classification means a number of users are denied any access, particularly people accessing the internet in some restaurants, workplaces and via mobile phone networks such as Telefonica/O2. In total Symantec claims 250 million users of the filter worldwide, so it could easily mean a 10% reduction in traffic for mens' rights sites.
How long has this being going on? It is uncertain as to exactly how long this has been an issue. I became aware of the problem in May 2012 though it appears to have been going on in some cases for at least two years. It must have been happening for a considerable length of time as some of the blocked sites no longer exist.
Other mens' rights activists and even member of the media have had difficulty getting any sort of meaningful response from Symantec so I've taken a different approach and been in touch with O2/Telefonica management. I asked them to classify the blocked websites more appropriately and to stop censoring such content. Eventually I was put in contact with O2's head of complaints, Antony Gibson, and he confirmed that O2 use the same filter service from Symantec, called Rulespace, thus explaining why the two block lists of the two companies are identical.
Mr Gibson liaised with Symantec and informed me they had reviewed the list and decided to reclassify just 2 out of the 47 sites I presented them with. This therefore means the "hate" classification/block officially stands for the bulk of this content (including avoiceformen.com) and is no accident. Mr Gibson explained that O2/Symantec regarded the sites to be at the "low end" of the spectrum in terms of hate and further explained that they were blocked and classed as "hate sites" due to reasons such as showing "aggression" and/or use of the term "anti-feminism"!
Mr Gibson did express some concern about people seeing men's rights sites listed as hate sites and smeared in this way, but O2's solution to our concerns is that they will disable their url checker so no one can see the reason why a site has been blocked. In other words O2 is fairly happy for the issue of human rights for men to be classed as hateful, their only concern is people finding out that they're taking this stance. So, now we have no just a case of censorship and defamation, but a cover up too!
To compound matters yet further, many of these sites classified as hateful really are incredibly innocuous and deal with very important issues, many don't even use the term "anti-feminist" either nor contain "aggression". Such a term is so vague and ambiguous as to be completely meaningless, and proves absolutely how the filter is arbitrary and a nonsense and completely open to abuse. More importantly, if O2/Symantec have an issue with the term "anti-feminist", then they are quite blatantly taking an extreme political stance in favour of an ideology. Afterall, there's barely any more "aggressive" way of supporting feminist doctrine than to censor and defame anyone who dares critique or correct it. I think this issue really sums up how important the men's' movement is today, not to mention the scale of the challenge facing us. We see countless feminist activists all over the media campaigning against free speech and equality and seeking privileges for women such as subsidised insurance premiums. Feminists make endless sexist comments telling men not to rape and even the host of the world's leading feminist radio programme openly laughs at male victims of domestic abuse. Whilst all this has been going on, and despite spending countless hours on the matter, I've failed with a simple request for companies to stop denying help to male victims of rape and domestic violence. In fact I can't even get these sick companies to remove their "hate site" smear from their classification of these vitally important resources. Perhaps I haven't yet been "aggressive" enough?
Here's a selection of sites O2/Symantec insist on keeping in their "hate site" category:
http://dvmen.org - A site in Colorado helping male victims of domestic violence
http://toysoldier.wordpress.com - A blog highlighting the plight of male victims of rape and abuse
http://www.ncfm.org -Website of the longest running men's human rights organisation in the US (founded in 1977)
http://www.fathersforlife.org - A site seeking for fathers to have a greater role in their children's lives
http://www.debunker.com/patriarchy.html - A webpage scientifically debunking the most common feminist myths
http://disenfranchisedfather.blogspot.co.uk - blog by a father who doesn't get to see his son
For those who are curious, apparently the only two non-"hateful" men's sites out of the 47 are:
Hisside.com and dadi.org and both are now unblocked.
O2 have been in touch and would like me to point out that O2 customers who are over 18 can remove the restriction and view any web site they want to by going through their age verification process. Customers without a credit card can visit an O2 store with photo ID such as a passport or driving licence.
A more comprehensive list of the blocked sites is here. We haven't looked at them all, so post them without live links so if you want to visit them you'll need to copy and paste them into your browser.
Symantec Corporation is an American global computer security software corporation headquartered in Mountain View, California. It is a Fortune 500 company and a member of the S&P 500 stock market index. Symantec competes in the antivirus industry with its flagship brand Norton Antivirus and also owns Verisign.
James Williams wrote an entry on the Symantec Corporation page in Wikipedia but it was quickly removed. Here is his entry ...
It was discovered that Norton Symantec had unilaterally decided to block access to websites across the world dedicated to help combat problems faced by men and boys. With no supporting evidence these sites were declared 'hate sites'. Some of the sites helped men cope with domestic abuse they were suffering or boys struggling with family and educational problems. One site was engaged in helping soldiers overcome the effects of Post Traumatic Stress and adapt to civilian life. Because of Symantec's insensitive stance many human rights campaigners called for a boycott of all Norton products.
It's not the first time that these companies have censored the internet for reasons that are unclear. In 2011 they blocked the website of a Sheffield church, and in the same year some people claimed that they'd blocked Google Maps as well.
The GOS says: Of course one knows that stupidity always reigns unchecked, especially in large organisations. If these actions by Symantec and O2 were just mistakes, just cases where some plonker had misunderstood the nature and purpose of the websites he was looking at, one could understand. It would be annoying and ridiculous, but all they'd have to do is put the matter right and we'd all be happy.
But no, that's not what happened, is it? They've been told they've made a mistake, and they refuse to correct it. So one has to assume that this is a deliberate and political action to weaken the rights of men as opposed to women. Exactly, and I mean exactly, the kind of thing we can expect if this country slides to the left in the next few years. There's nothing wrong with left-wing politics per se - I considered myself a socialist for the first half of my life – but there's now a frightening hidden agenda riding on the back of normal socialist policy, and we started to see it under Blair and Brown: state interference with the speech and thoughts of ordinary people, a dense network of new laws governing every aspect of daily life, an army of new petty officials with arbitrary powers of enforcement, over 1,000 reasons for officials to invade the homes of ordinary people, and the enshrinement in law of the often abhorent views and practices of sexual and religious minorities, to the detriment of the rights and well-being of the general public.
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