Friday, June 12, 2009

Unite the Fight Is to Talk with Coffee Bean - Statement Issued From Content Filter Co. Founder

I just talked to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf's PR firm and I will be having a conversation with Coffee Bean later this afternoon.

I want to say right now though, that the PR firm has stated that they too are aghast at how the coffee shop's wi-fi system works and reiterated that these sites should not be blocked. They mentioned Coffee Bean feels the same. I'll know more about what they have to say this afternoon.

Furthermore, Pam's House Blend, a blocked site, is also aware of the issue. David Ulevitch, the founder of OpenDNS, the company that filters content for Coffee Bean's wi-fi, issued this statement in Pam's comments section (which someone was also kind enough to post under our comments here as well):
I don't want to jump in front of my staff who are going to respond to this better than I can, but this was just a mistake on OpenDNS's part in two ways: 1) blocking your site and 2) having a support response that was a bit more biased than it should have been.

I love our support department because our team is not outsourced to some far off country and is made up of real human beings in San Francisco with real opinions and who really care about giving our customers and users high-quality support. 99.99% of the time, that's awesome. Every once in a while (this might be the first time) I look at an answer and scratch my head wondering what they were thinking. I think you'll find this all gets cleared up in a couple of hours as folks roll into work and we'll send responses to UniteTheFight and the other sites.

Also, in case anyone wonders... no "heads are going to roll" as a result of this, it was just a technical mistake and a slightly blunt support response from a well-meaning person on my team. I'm confident neither will happen again. :-)

David Ulevitch
Founder, OpenDNS

ps, the irony is that I can say with a very high degree of confidence that nobody at OpenDNS, least of all our support department, has any issue with LGBT sites. If you ever see our blocked page again in error just flag it for review.
This is developing very well. My issue, from the beginning, was "technical discrimination." Unless someone, an actual person, other than users who are homophobic, are causing these sites to be flagged, then it's a technical issue. (Which is why I wrote my email to OpenDNS.) But behind this issue is the association of "gay", "lesbian" and "homosexual" to smut, thus causing their systems to block essential, clean and legitimate LGBT sites.

The beautiful result of all of us speaking up about this is that Coffee Bean and OpenDNS are wanting to work with us on solving this issue. They think it's wrong, too. But if we don't ever speak up, what offends us will never be fixed.

1 comment:

  1. Well, my email address is david at and you can email any time. While I might not read UTF on a daily basis, your cause is one I personally support. And your point about ensuring that gay and lesbian is not equated with smut is well-taken and something we're going to spend some resources on ensuring isn't an issue going forward. And if it ever comes up again, you have my direct email address. Finally, we think we generally do a pretty darn good job, so when we mess up, we admit it and fix it. And for what it's worth, the vast majority of our users do not use us for filtering porn, they use us to make their internet safer from phishing and more reliable; a cause I think we all can support.