Why is Amtrak Blocking LGBT News Sites?

Jim Burroway

October 21st, 2011

Click to enlarge.

And why is Seattle Gay News considered a porn site?


October 21st, 2011


Automatic filters are just that – automatic. Chances are that Amtrak hired someone to come in and install a content filter and they left the settings at default.

Also – some gay news sites do cross the line between basic advertisement and inappropriate imagery so its not surprising that they would be categorized as porn (or at least adult). Many non-gay sites also get mis-categorized. Just a month ago we ran across a number of local church sites that were classified as porn. Why? Because several years ago – those same URLs were porn sites (specifically straight bondage – we looked it up).

Content filters are imperfect mechanisms but feel free to feel ‘false outrage’ anyways if it makes you feel better.

B John

October 21st, 2011

I agree at this point. Do what the message says, contact Amtrak and ask them to fix it.

If they don’t…the outrage is the appropriate response.


October 21st, 2011

Amtrak should be able to fix it. Good filter companies (like the one filtering my internet right now, at work) can distinguish between identity and pornography when it comes to gay issues by using a granular model — rather than the heterosexist model that assumes that anything related to sexuality must be intrinsically dirty.

It basically extends from the days when these filters were geared primarily for schools and children.

Frankly, Amtrak shouldn’t be filtering anything, if you ask me. Grown ups are precisely that. If I want to spend my commute watching porn without disturbing anyone else, that’s entirely my privilege if I’ve paid for the bandwidth.


October 21st, 2011

My partner and I were recently on Coast Starlight between SEA and SFO and we had no problems with blocked sites, when we had service at all. There were a few drop outs here and there. After reading up on the issue I’ve come to the conclusion though that we’re a rather boring couple.

As for blocking porn on public transportation I cannot disagree with it if you are sitting in coach, and possibly have children able to see your screen. It is responsible to keep it clean in such a setting. At the moment, at least on Coast Starlight, Internet is only offered to first class passengers anyway.

Amtrak charges a lot of money for their first class bedroom accommodations. Since those areas are by definition private, I see no reason why there should be any blocking going on there, assuming you’re not surfing pr0n in the parlour or dining cars.

Of course the solution is to just bring your aircard or stick with you and hope you’re always near a tower.

Tony P

October 21st, 2011

More than likely they use at&t for the net connection over a cell connection. I know that’s what MBTA does.

And I have peripheral involvement with the folks at at&t and I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt, they are nitwits.

I say this because the ‘geniuses’ at at&t can’t figure out how to split a syslog feed. Duh!

As to content filtering, I’m in the process of putting together the plans for a ward wide publish MESH WiFi network. I do plan on some content filtering but will work carefully not to block legitimate content.

But I won’t put the connection up without a proxy and a content filter. I’ve seen what people do on ‘public’ computers and I don’t want that little liability for the project.


October 22nd, 2011

I just assumed too many wives were complaining their husbands were accessing gay porn.

When all else fails, a cell phone 3-4G wifi Hotpot should help eleviate the porblem.

Reed Boyer

October 22nd, 2011

George Bakan’s gonna love this.

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