back to article Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

Cloudflare's internet filter service Gateway will no longer offer to block LGBTQ content, with the biz saying it was all an accident caused by one or more third-party suppliers. It kicked off when Henry Cole, a UK-based IT analyst, challenged Cloudflare on Twitter. He said that when he was configuring a DNS policy for Gateway …

  1. bdj

    I've not used cloudflare blocking, but I have always understood categories exist to allow for blocking, or allowing depending on the overarching policy. I appreciate it may seem inappropriate, but in heavily governed internet feeds categorisation of sites is really useful for multiple reasons and the assumption they're only used for blocking is in my view incorrect.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Social outrage aside.

      I can understand why there may be a filter for LGBTQ content.

      Go to Google images. Switch off all content and age filters and search for "lesbians". Then do the same search for "women", then again for "men", then finally try "straight".

      Report back when you know which one is NSFW.

      Statistically, it's one of the most popular keywords for porn and adult content.

      I doubt Cloudflare set up the filter to outrage gay people. They set it up because, unfortunately, statistically searching quite a few LGBTQ keywords will result in porn.

      1. six_tymes

        thanks for speaking truths, and not continued incitement of more hate like the writer of this article did with the sub title.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Filters are a difficult business. All we as engineers have to go on is statistics and testing to create them. Sure, sometimes we give our filters dumb names (just like our servers, I'm rebooting Gandalf now).

          It's morons that apply some sort of underlying malice or dark reasoning behind them.

          Porn accounts for something like 40% of all internet searches, it is by far the most searched topic. Therefore as an engineer it's sensible to assume that the primary purpose of a filter is to remove adult content.

          Not once in my 20 year career has someone come to me and said "mate, we really have to block all that gay stuff online, the stuff that is getting through is just too damned gay". It's absurd. Just say that line out loud to yourself and you'll realise how rediculous it is for a filter to exist to make someone's internet experience less gay.

          1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

            I've been asked by a religious school to do exactly that. I laughed at them and told them they needed to monitor what kids were looking at, not expect filters to do the work. And then blocked their number, because I don't need clients like that.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              You give engineers a bad name..

              >> Therefore as an engineer it's sensible to assume that the primary purpose of a filter is to remove adult content.

              And 1 is not a number. I can't believe the upvotes, this is so just utterly, miserably, incredibly incorrect.

              Have you even checked the websites under the category? It is exactly for what that religious school asked for.

              stonewall.org.uk is in that list! It hasn't got a lick of adult content.

              It is widely used in conservative countries to block the subject, not to block the adult content. The search engines keep another category for the adult content.

              >> the primary purpose of a filter is to remove adult content.

              https://community.opendns.com/domaintagging/categories for eg https://domain.opendns.com/monster.com

              Jobs/employment blocks indeed.com and monster.com

              Shocking how misinformed and myopic people on theregister are.

              >> "as an engineer"

              You give engineers a bad name..

              1. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

                Re: You give engineers a bad name..

                I though these days stonewall.org.uk should be classified as a hate group, Based on the policies they now support?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        On the other hand "Straight woman" for me returns nothing but porn. And no, my search history is one of the things wiped when I close my browser.

      3. Aladdin Sane

        Then the filter should block adult content. You've made a stupid argument and you know it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No I haven't. I've set up many workplace porn filters and lesbian porn frequently gets through standard adult filters. That's why I chose that specific keyword. Google image searches dont flag themselves as NSFW if you turn safesearch off.

          Lesbian is an ambiguous keyword. Whereas words like "fucking", "porn" and so on are not.

          Let's not forget some of the pranks that have existed over the years because of ambiguous keywords. Goatse, Lemon Party, Tubgirl etc. These were specifically geared up to bypass filters.

          It's incredibly naive to think that filters exist specifically for the oppression of specific groups.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            these filters at dns are usually websites not keyword based.

            if you want adult filtering use adult filters and safe search. You're turning off adult filtering and safe search, and then saying you need to do something else to stop adult content and unsafe search.

            The point is the problem you claim can be solved by using the tools to solve that problem.

            Not blocking im-gay-and-alone-help-me.org

            BTW the category exists for other conservative countries such as the Middle East.

            It is equally naive to assume it isn't being specifically used for censorship. There will be Cloudflare customers who will move if this a global deployment at Cloudflare.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            >> No I haven't.

            Yes you have. Or you have explained yourself very poorly.

            (1) DNS filtering categories do not do keyword blocks. Blocking a category does not block search engine results on that category's terminology.

            (2) So the LGBTQ category does not block lesbian porn nor the search term "lesbian" as you allude to.

            (3) The LGBTQ category blocks domain names associated with *non-pornographic* discussion and information about sexual orientation.

            (3) There are also other categories that *actually* block what you claim "needs" the LGBTQ category. A lesbian porn site isn't under the LGBTQ list, it is under the adult porn category. As an example https://community.opendns.com/domaintagging/categories Nudity, Lingerie/Bikini, Sexuality, Pornography, Proxy/Anonymizer.

            (3) Keyword based blocks require URL blocking (NOT dns blocking) if the URL contains the term. It Is trivial to use an anonymizer service to obfuscate the search term so this strategy is pretty useless.

            (4) Google's image search for example does not even query the websites for thumbnails. The images come from google in base64 encode. Nothing at DNS stops those images except forcing google safesearch and hoping the search engine algos are good..

            (5) Don't even get me started on reddit and twitter porn. Twitter and reddit have enough porn on them that no categories/keywords will filter.

            You want to properly block adult content - use adult content filters, force safesearch search engines via dns cloaking, forward all port 53 requests to your provisioned server, use DPI to block DNS queries elsewhere, block DoH/DoT and other port 443 based DNS services, use an internal filter list that updates quicker (from say https://filterlists.com), and block *all* twitter and reddit images if you are serious.

            Not by blocking the "shopping" category and expecting popup ads to stop everywhere.

            Your entire argument as described by you is deeply misinformed about what DNS filtering does, how keyword filtering/blocking is done, and how image search works.

            You will need to better explain the link between keyword image searches on a search engine and a LGBTQ *website*, not an LGBTQ *term*. Keyword image searches on a search engine need fixing at the search engine.

            >> It's incredibly naive to think that filters exist specifically for the oppression of specific groups.

            This is just silly. It doesn't even solve what you think it does, but even if it did it is censoring valid and supportive content around a group suffering prejudice.

            >> You've made a stupid argument and you know it.

            Until you better explain, I'll partly agree with this earlier comment,

            You've made a stupid argument but you don't seem to know it.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That's why you have a separate filter for porn, problem solved without blocking LGBTQ content. You can pretty much search anything on the internet and get porn. Rule 34.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Indeed and an additional filter for LGBTQ in case the adult filter blocks too much and prevents our LGBTQ friends from visiting legitimate stuff.

          Filter lists allow stuff as well as block stuff. You fuckwit.

          It's amazing how many people have jumped to the conclusion that filters can only block stuff. They're supposed take the shit out you don't want and permit the shit you do want.

          Not unlike a coffee filter. You want the finer particles to get through because that's what makes it a good coffee, but you want all the chunky gritty shit left in the filter to stop it ruining the coffee.

          You don't use a coffee filter to prevent coffee being tea. You use them to make a better, more refined cup of coffee. Removing the chuff and sludge from the coffee isn't denying you a good cup of coffee, it's ensuring that you get one.

          I'm not saying that filters are always a good thing, far from it, your stance alone suggests that you see (and probably implement filters) as only a blocking device, butnin the right hands they are a good thing.

          The world wouldn't function without them. A search engine is basically a user customisable filter. You, as a human being, if you weren't you'd buy one of everything in a supermarket everyone you go shopping instead of filtering down to what you need.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            wit???

            we're talking dns domain filtering, that isn't how it works.

            it is not an allowlist, because they can apply that to the polluted list at the server side anyway and remove false positives in any category. The user would not require the option as the provider controls both lists.

            dns domain allowlists are for custom overrides

            https://developers.cloudflare.com/cloudflare-one/policies/filtering/dns-policies-builder/dns-categories

            since we're name calling... for dns domain filtering, the category lists are all used as blocklists.

            Not some pseudo intellectual coffee filter, dns domain filters as used. You want to argue terminology fine, that is a pedantic exercise and isn't the subject of category based dns filtering to go name calling fuckwit...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I know I'm late to reply but wtf are you on about. You have black lists and white lists. Anything on the black list is blocked and anything you want unblocking goes on the white list if needed. This is basic internet 101 and has been around since day dot.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I think based on the statistics people accidentally viewing lesbian porn at work is more likely than someone accidentally viewing X rated sonic fan art or Clown Porn.

          Also some people have kinks that from a distance won't offend any clients that might be walking around the office. Like those folks that are sexually attracted to cars or rollercoasters. Someone getting aroused by a photo of a 1992 Fiat Panda on their screen is less likely to ruffle a customer than someone viewing a picture of one woman elbow deep in another woman. Catch my drift? Know what I mean?

        3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
          Mushroom

          The only truly effective porn filter is the big red button.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Then filter images. Do a web search for LGBTQ-friendly businesses and (historically) you'll find it practicality impossible with the filters engaged. This has changed recently but DDG, for example, pretty much refused to show information on many typical LGBTQ-friendly locations, such as bars and clubs; you *really* had to go out of your way to find a street address or website for such.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          you DO have a point, when you are specifically looking for LGBTQ(etc.) related things. However if this is a work-based internet filter, maybe you can use your phone instead?

          Some work-based filtering systems make it VERY hard to update Linux systems, essentially blocking all of the repo mirrors. I'd prefer NO blocking at ALL, but you know how some IT admins can be... and yet a "porn blocker" [if it even works] might be all they need.

          I also just did a search on "lgbtq friendly business San Diego" and the top 5 results were business listing sites, NOT porn. And that's worth pointing out also.

      6. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Meh

        I doubt Cloudflare set up the filter to outrage gay people.

        No, they probably set it up that way by request.,, because a LOT of people really do not want to see that kind of thing. There is a HUGE difference between "I do not want to see it" and "make being gay illegal and punishable by death". (Fortunately most of society has moved WAY past that last bit)

        Now, if the really offensive stuff is labeled as "porn", a simple porn filter might do it, to eliminate the NSFW stuff at any rate, without the "triggering".

        1. tip pc Silver badge

          “ There is a HUGE difference between "I do not want to see it" and "make being gay illegal and punishable by death". ”

          What else could be preferable not to see?

          I heard an expression like Exclusion Bias the other day in reference to the BBC promoting left wing views by excluding or talking negatively about other views or opinions.

          Porn in all forms should be excluded from the work place ( unless you work in that or related industries) but why should non porn LGQBT what ev’s be blocked?

          1. Muppet Boss Bronze badge
            Thumb Up

            >What else could be preferable not to see?

            Cute kittens, doggies and horsies, social networks and their feeds, ads, online entertainment, streaming, broadcasting, tv, news, stock quotes, online games, travel, food & fashion blogs, sports coverage, is this enough?

            >Porn in all forms should be excluded from the work place ( unless you work in that or related industries) but why should non porn LGQBT what ev’s be blocked?

            Because at the work place people are expected to... well... work?

          2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

            Maybe, strange concept I know, people should be "working" at work not randomly searching the web.

      7. d3vy

        Well we best block *words* in general because I did a search for "otter vs bear" (I wondered who would win in a fight) and saw some particularly NSFW content.

        Having just recovered from that shock, I decided to see what my favourite dam building mammals were up to.. I can assure you those beavers were not building any dams....

        I had to go out for lunch because trying to find a baker that sold "Large Buttered Baps" didn't yield anything useful.

      8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        re: Statistically, it's one of the most popular keywords for porn and adult content.

        I thought that was "stepsister" "stuck" and "washing machine" ?

      9. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I think you'll find the porn category deals with your concern?

        1. d3vy

          "I think you'll find the porn category deals with your concern?"

          Nope, doesn't have any impact on Google/bing/ddg image search

      10. ST Silver badge
        Facepalm

        > Go to Google images. Switch off all content and age filters and search for "lesbians". Then do the same search for "women", then again for "men", then finally try "straight".

        I did. I searched Google Images for all the words you enumerate above. All my Google search filters are disabled.

        Not a single one of these word searches yielded images that could remotely be classified as "porn", or even remotely objectionable.

        I do not consider a photograph of the LGBTQ rainbow flag to be "porn". Incidentally, that is one of the images that came up in large numbers when searching for the word "straight".

        "lesbians" yielded a large number of images showing women couples. None of the images would qualify as "porn". Does a photograph of two women walking and holding hands qualify as "porn"? Many of the images weren't even photographs. Does a drawing of two hands around a stylized heart shape colored with the "rainbow" flag qualify as "porn"?

        "women" yielded a large number of photographs showing ... women. Several images in this category were photographs of Gal Gadot in her role as Wonder Woman. Is that "porn"? One of the images was a NASA poster that read "Women at NASA". The background was a dark navy starry sky and the caption was printed in white. Is that "porn"?

        "men" yielded a large number of photographs showing ... men. All of them were dressed. Some were playing football (American). Some others soccer or lacrosse. Some were adverts for eyeglasses or hairdos. Some others were adverts for suits or other kinds of clothing for men. Is that "porn"?

        > [ ... ] statistically searching quite a few LGBTQ keywords will result in porn.

        "men" is a LGBTQ keyword? How does that work, exactly?

      11. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

        Fair point, but...

        Fair point, but I'm quite sure there's a direct filter for porn.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    The problem is caused by Cloudflare providing service internationally. Differing countries have different social norms & legal requirements.

    e.g. In China, Tiananmen Square is a restricted topic. In the rest of the world it's not.

    1. unimaginative
      Alert

      I remember many years ago a service blocking nudity blocked a lot of works of art (Michaelangelo's David was one) because that was expected in some countries (probably Middle Eastern).

      It would be interesting to know what prroportion of customers using this category block 1) live with it, 2) use different categories to do what they want and 3) switch to a non-western provider.

      Its easy to forget in the west that most people live in countries with very different attitudes to homosexuality (and women's rights and freedom of worship and freedom of speech and racism....).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

    what about the 'plus'?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

      The + is just a socially constructed concept in order to further confuse that weren't already confused with the Q..

    2. Julz Silver badge

      Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

      Just looked it up:

      People often use LGBTQ+ to mean all of the communities included in “LGBTTTQQIAA”:

      Lesbian

      Gay

      Bisexual

      Transgender

      Transsexual

      2/Two-Spirit

      Queer

      Questioning

      Intersex

      Asexual

      Ally

      + Pansexual

      + Agender

      + Gender Queer

      + Bigender

      + Gender Variant

      + Pangender

      Good grief...

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

        It would be easier to say NS (not straight) and be done with. It also automatically includes anyone who is left out of whatever alphabet soup is favoured today.

        1. katrinab Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

          Some trans people are straight (heterosexual). Same applies to intersexed people.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

        There is getting to be such a ludicrous collection of alphabet soup letters in that ever-growing initialism these days (which you can't even reasonably attempt to say out loud any more: I even saw a Grauniad article the other day that attempted to use it in writing so many times that the article was quite painful to read, and they weren't even consistent in which letters they included each time they wrote it!) that might it not just be easier (and less silly looking) to come up with a proper word instead?

        As far as I am aware (and, with all sincerity, please do correct me if I'm wrong), "queer" has been generally reclaimed as a positive non-insulting word nowadays. It might not be perfect, and not necessarily entirely precise, but it's surely better than this ever-expanding alphabet soup mess, where many of the people among those characteristics which have been lumped together by some people misguidedly attempting to be "excessively inclusive" don't necessarily have an awful lot in common.

        See also the ugly word "BAME"; at least you can say it (although I'm sure that at some point someone will be plotting to add even more letters to it, to show through virtual signalling how fast they can run along their euphemism treadmill), but what's wrong with just plain old "ethnic minority"? (Again, I'm perfectly willing to be corrected if there is a good reason for it not being appropriate.)

        1. Stumpy

          Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

          To be fair though, The Grauniad is often not consistent in the letters they use in any words they print.

      3. Tree
        Pint

        Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

        Please define QUEER. I thought it was a trigger word for Homo. How is that different from GenderQueer?

        Some requirements list more than 50 words that one can pretend to be. BTW my pronoun is "it" What is yours?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

          My pronoun is ginger because it can be.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

        When is cisgender getting on that list?

    3. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

      Google shut it down a while back.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cloudflare stops offering to block LGBTQ webpages

      I'm glad this innocent question received some... effect :)

  4. FeepingCreature

    Filters are good actually

    If people don't want to see certain content, this is good and should be supported and encouraged.

    If some conservative want to not hear anything about people they consider immoral, I'm all for it! Why do you want to make this person angry? The only benefit to not allowing people to block certain categories is inciting outrage that you can then react against.

    This isn't even about Cloudflare kicking LGBTQ people off their platform, this is about self-determining your internet landscape. There is no censorship angle - as I keep being told, free speech does not entitle you to an audience.

    Honestly, if people had been able to block black people from their perception during the Civil Rights era, I think it would have been a less bloody conflict, and have achieved the same outcome.

    The part where it gets problematic here, imo, is parents blocking content for their children, not for their own use. Unfortunately, this may also be the most common use. I am incredibly conflicted about this, leaning somewhat against. But the general concept of blocking LGBTQ topics for your own consumption is good and valid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Filters are good actually

      To summarise this post.

      Filters are fine if they're implemented by choice, each to their own.

      I agree.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Filters are good actually

        hmm... when it is done by a large organization, it brings up interesting points.

        Where do you draw the line betweening providing a service and at what point do we say that the service isn't nurturing and furthering a prejudice?

        And if you're implementing it at DNS, you're obviously making the choice for others, never yourself?

        This is censorship, make no mistake - in a workplace there are business reasons, outside the workplace and in the community, a dns blocklist is nothing by censorship.

        As ever, while the principle of your comments about individual freedoms might be true, it is tangential and isn't addressing what is *actually* happening here with DNS blocklists.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Filters are good actually

      > this is about self-determining your internet landscape.

      Until your ISP or school includes blocking all LGBTQ content in their default "family setting".

      I want my "financial fraud" filter setting to block any sites with von Mises or Hayek content

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Filters are good actually

      Then you use Parental Controls on your internet connection at home. You put it on your laptops, your phones, your tablets. You don't expect your ISP to filter this for you.

      Take some responsibility yourself.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Filters are good actually

        Good luck finding suitable filters for phones and tablets that a determined teenager can't get past (in collaboration with like-minded friends).

        Also, what you actually want to do is filter once, on your router. But good luck doing that on a conventional router. Hence, 99% of parents look to their ISP or other external source for these functions.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Filters are good actually

        >> Take some responsibility yourself.

        Hmm, I want to block twitter porn and reddit porn, but still access the SFW stuff in there.

        Answers please...

        Without regulatory intervention, I'm afraid the idea that this is about "taking responsibilty", implying there is empowerment to take control, is a very big fat lie.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Religion and porn

    If you offer a filter for porn it makes sense to also offer a filter for religion. Both are best not consumed by minors who are not fully able put them and their consequences into context. Both can be a source of joy and inspiration for some but I'd rather not have my son stumble upon porn or religion before he's sixteen or so.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Religion and porn

      Very true!

      Though to be fair many more are killed by religion than porn.

    2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Religion and porn

      I was arguing about parental controls with a Catholic friend around 1996. I ended up sending him a list of sites that to make my point that the internet superhighway is NOT a place to let your kids play. As I recall, the first was gaynazis.com or something (a dating site). The next was Heaven's Gate (look it up). The last was silverdove.com "Sharing the love of Jesus with Catholics." I'm no Catholic, but I will get violent if you try to argue with me that a Catholic child should be given access to such a site without their parent's consent.

      My point then, as it has always been, that we need some rich set of controls if we want to allow children to wander around on the internet. We seem to get an article or two every couple of years about particularly egregious situations, but there are some really twisted people out there.

      As my twelve-year-old writer daughter found out in 2014 on a site that was supposedly safe.

      1. idiot taxpayer here again

        Re: Religion and porn

        @Claptrap314

        " I ended up sending him a list of sites that to make my point that the internet superhighway is NOT a place to let your kids play."

        "As my twelve-year-old writer daughter found out in 2014 on a site that was supposedly safe."

        Perhaps you should have sent yourself a list?

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Religion and porn

          She was not playing with random sites. We had talked about the nature of the internet, and she was asking me about sites before going on them. I had checked it. It appeared to be okay.

          At some point, you have to allow your children to breath.

  6. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    Sounds like a category that makes sense to be on a filter. Its the person paying for the service who gets to choose what they want available, they dont get to inflict that on other adults.

    To each their own.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      This isn't your home filter, it's a filter used on a school, office or organization, and there are different expectations. Just as you have a right to stop female, black, gay or disabled people from going into your house, but that right isn't available to an organization.

      And please fuck off with the "inflict" terminology.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @Androgynous Cupboard

        "This isn't your home filter, it's a filter used on a school, office or organization, and there are different expectations"

        And thats why a customisable filter allows organisations and schools to set preferences in accordance with the values of that organisation.

        "And please fuck off with the "inflict" terminology."

        You fuck off if you dont like my terminology. But that one organisation cant inflict its filtering on others is a good thing in my opinion (which you may have misread the meaning?).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      >> Sounds like a category that makes sense to be on a filter.

      >> Its the person paying for the service who gets to choose what they want available, they dont get to inflict that on other adults.

      You're contradicting yourself.

      As a DNS service, whatever categories chosen is to "inflict" on others using said DNS service.

  7. bernmeister

    Filtering too much.

    Forgetting about the morals and ethics of filtering, there can be significant practical problems. Has anybody tried to download visa application forms on a library computer? Many countries have listed forbidden activities and substances on their application forms. The filters instantly pick these up and block the document.

    1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Filtering too much.

      Someone must have been daft enough to try. Libraries block that kind of thing because you have to be stupid to input that data to a shared PC, not because of mistaken blacklisting.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If you're doing something [at Cloudflare's scale], it needs to have lots of transparency," Hancock said. "And give users the ability to choose."

    This commentary is ineffective - Cloudflare did have it as an option people could choose. The problem was the existence of the option.

  9. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Filtering When

    I could see filtering content not appropriate for a workplace/school on a workplace/school network. The devil is defining what is not appropriate and setting up the appropriate filters. I suspect any specific filter will offend someone, somewhere because they believe it inappropriate that a network should block content cluttering up the network.

    I am reminded of the old song by Three Dead Trolls in a Baggee about network administrators - do not irritate the network admin because 'he knows about all the porn' you have been downloading.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If they block ginger...

    There will be white hot rage.

    [Not ginger but ginger curious]

  11. Trigun Bronze badge

    Maybe more to it than bigotry?

    Looking at this in as favourable light as possible: I wonder if that category was included as whoever put it there was thinking that as LGBTQ+ involves gender/sexual preferences (and usually some discussion of such things) that people might want to block because of possible content to do with sexual(ised) or naked-body content (not necessarily porn)?

    BTW I do a lot of filtering work as part of my job and I've never had a request to block LGBTQ+ and we deal with many establishments, including religious ones.

  12. Marty McFly Bronze badge
    Mushroom

    Thou shall do thine Internet as we decide thou shalt do it!

    The problem is Big Tech applying their versions of morality to their centralized monopoly. Today it is LGBTQ, tomorrow it may be something I actually care about. So I had better pay attention today unless I get pushed down the slippery slope tomorrow.

    In my opinion, Big Tech has gotten too big. Regardless of which political brand each of us support, outside of any legal authority they silenced a sitting President in January. That exercise of power and control should scare all of us.

    Ultimately, I think this LGBTQ filtering change is a good thing - but not for the reasons articulated. The more Big Tech tries to tighten their grip, the more decentralized block-chain technologies will spring up to replace them. For example, take a look at Presearch dot org as a replacement for Google searches.

    Every time Big Tech tries to exercise their control, it only serves to drive more innovators to create alternative solutions that are beyond the control of a singular corporate entity.

    1. fredesmite2
      FAIL

      Re: Thou shall do thine Internet as we decide thou shalt do it!

      Big Tech doesn't exist.

      Big Marketing is what poorly educated #TrumpBillies and MAGA morons have problem grasping.

      No one forced anyone to give their email and phone number to a marketing platform so they can track their every activity.

      Read the EULA.

  13. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Nice idea

    "If you're doing something [at Cloudflare's scale], it needs to have lots of transparency," Hancock said. "And give users the ability to choose."

    Care to practice it?

    Cloudflare's users are not individuals browsing the internet. Their users are businesses which, for reasons which included national laws, provide services to users, many of whom are more usually called "employees". If the business, for whatever reason, filters for or against X, then their users (again, whom may be employees) are the ones to determine if this is a good or a bad thing.

    But no, Mr. Hancock somehow just knows that the only people making use of such a filter are doing so with evil intent. He just knows that there is no legitimate us of such a filter. And in his righteous omniscience, he has decreed that this filter must go.

    I've seen an awful lot of people around here claiming "My house, my rules" regarding banning certain classes of content by FB or others. Well, what if it my house and not yours?

    1. idiot taxpayer here again

      Re: Nice idea

      @Claptrap314

      er, its MRS Alexis Hancock, director of engineering with the EFF's CertBot project...

  14. Terry2000

    What happened to NSFW

    With very (very very) few exceptions I cannot envisage sites dedicated to sexual preference being suitable for work.

    No one said it was porn. It is just another example of "Stuff we are NOT paying you to do". If you are my employee I don't want to pay you to browse: ebay, etsy, nra, your favorite (OR least favorite) political party, anything whatsoever to do with sex AND sexuality, and a rather endless list of other such things.

    Crap like this is why companies just ban the entire internet outright.

  15. riverrock83

    All protected characteristics or none of them

    If you're going to have a filter for "religion" then you need a filter for all other protected characteristics, not to leave them out.

    Its an all or nothing. Otherwise you'll get yourself in a different problem.

  16. captain veg

    Go ahead and down vote me again

    I give no shits at all about what CloudFlare does or opines while it continues to knowingly take money from criminals, which it does in spades. Same goes for anyone stupid enough to use its services.

    -A.

  17. captain veg

    only a few minutes in

    .. and already a downvote.

    Come on, tell me why it's great that CloudFlare willingly provides service to criminals.

    -A.

    1. idiot taxpayer here again

      Re: only a few minutes in

      I have just given you one (I could have put that better I suppose) for calling me stupid for using it's services

      1. captain veg

        Re: only a few minutes in

        Can I call you stupid for not being able to spell "its" correctly?

        -A.

        1. David Woodhead

          Re: only a few minutes in

          @captain veg

          He spelled it perfectly, but punctuated it incorrectly.

          If you're going to be a grammar pedant you need to be pretty damn sure that your post is flawless, or you leave yourself wide open.

          *Smiley face*

          1. captain veg

            Re: only a few minutes in

            You can think that, if you like.

            -A.

  18. jason_derp Bronze badge

    Difficult stuff

    Filtering anything at all starts to get tricky, even with what might seem obvious. Say you wanted to filter pornography. Does that include sex education? What about certain objective medical information and statistics? Are there specific points where you can draw a line? What about feet, or furries? It's all nuanced and, frankly, not worth the trouble.

    Don't click on things you don't want to. I know nobody sympathizes with the difficulties I face when trying to find incredibly obscure infirmation in a see of detritus duckduckgo decided was "close enough" to count. Put in the effort.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Difficult stuff

      Does it include The Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre? As Fortigate evidently thought so.

      My DNS filters only block adverts.

  19. Teejay

    Bravo, new El Reg. Finally arrived in the 2020s.

    I am really happy that The Register has expanded its scope from UK based, humorous, ridiculously light-hearted and most of all tech-centric articles to the new reality of truly grown up, responsible and inclusive journalism that basically all other publications have embraced these days. Bravo, and thank you.

    1. Gunboat Diplomat

      Re: Bravo, new El Reg. Finally arrived in the 2020s.

      I too am glad that we can focus on one man's virtue signalling rather than the tiresome world of IT.

      1. Teejay

        Re: Bravo, new El Reg. Finally arrived in the 2020s.

        Somewhat acrostic, but: Why one keeps every book under lock looking securely hidden in time.

  20. -tim
    Unhappy

    Where do these filters originate?

    I've use a website that can't be linked to on facebook because of something about "community standards" yet there has never been anything offensive on the domain and it has been around for more than 25 years. I'm sure facebook is using some third party service but I can't find out who it is or how to have them re-review their data.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think the search results for LGB can be bad?

    Try sitting with your six year old daughter and helping her search for My Little Pony pictures, and realising with horror what the world's become.

  22. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Allow any blocks or allow no blocks.

    Filtering services should permit blocking of anything the customer finds distasteful. Allowing some blocks but not others puts the blocking service into an ideological quagmire, leading to a downward spiral.

    If someone finds LGBTP distasteful, it's no different from someone finding, say, pictures of spiders and snakes distasteful, or blocking sites that make reference to your least favorite computer brand, or perhaps vegans blocking meat sites. The technology provider must not get involved in the moral spiral.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if they still offer categories to block such as Animal Rights and Environmental Sustainability. I bet they are still very blockable.

  24. fredesmite2
    Mushroom

    There is a DNS category ..

    For blocking poorly educated #TrumpBillies, #TrumpTrash ,and MAGA morons ??

    ...

  25. John Savard Silver badge

    Circumstances

    Blocking all sorts of content even remotely related to sexuality is certainly something that some people will want to do; traditionally-minded families with children.

    But Cloudflare isn't a provider that home users turn to for parental controls. Given its line of business, viewing blocking LGBTQ content as something that could be regarded as discrimination is appropriate.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021