Hotels using overly aggressive filtering

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We’re staying this weekend at the Best Western Coral Hills hotel in St. George, Utah, while visiting some of Michele’s family who have retired down here. Like most moderately priced hotels I’ve been in lately, they provide free wireless Internet access – why is it the expensive hotels charge guests for Internet access, while the cheaper chains include it free of charge?

At any rate, when one of our party went to post some photos on her MSN Spaces account she found access to the site blocked. Sure enough, the hotel is using something called InfoWest Clean Internet, which not only blocks access to all MSN Spaces, but also all of MySpace and Facebook. Interestingly, they don’t block access to Google Pages, at least not yet.

There’s a site where InfoWest explains why they’re blocking MySpace:

Here are the simple reasons we block MySpace.com:

1. It contains suggestive and pornographic images
2. It allows for the easy posting of way too much personal information
3. It is a context for dating and personal ads
4. It can be and has been used to exploit children and teenagers.

We welcome your comments.

I gave them my comments on blocking the social networking sites in their entirety. Might as well block the whole Internet while you’re at it. Sheesh.

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4 thoughts on “Hotels using overly aggressive filtering”

  1. I could hardly believe that an ISP is blocking Myspace and personals sites by default, but sure enough, there it is on their blog. This is getting a little out of hand.

    ‘3. It is a context for dating and personal ads’

    Huh?

    Mark Brooks
    editor, onlinepersonalswatch.com

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  2. I work for InfoWest, and we do not block any sites by “default”. If you sign up for our service, it is fully unfiltered unless you sign up for our Clean Internet service, which is fully configurable by the service holder.

    Most of the hotels in St. George use our service, and all of them have Clean Internet enabled. The filter we use is from 8e6 Technologies, and 8e6 categorizes Myspace and similar sites in the “DATE” category, which is the same category they categorize personals sites.

    We block the “DATE” category by default, and let our subsribers know this. If they wish to unblock the “DATE” category, all the customer has to do is let us know. All of the hotels we deal with have wanted that category blocked, so we oblige them.

    I hope this clears some misconceptions that Jeff’s post may have put in your mind. It’s entirely up to the Best Western Coral Hills as to what is blocked on their internet service.

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  3. Thanks for the comment, Joshua. I don’t mean to badmouth your Internet service in any way, and I always assumed that the hotel had the choice whether to use filtering or not (though it seems to me that it might be better if they could leave the choice of filtered vs. unfiltered Internet access to each occupant rather than turn it on for everybody).

    What I meant to decry is the practice of painting all of the social network services, which have individual sites from millions of participants, with the same broad brush for filtering. If whoever maintains the filters wants to filter out the individual pages that have offensive taste (however that might be defined) that might be ok, but to block the services wholesale just seems downright stupid to me.

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