Founded in 1999, Netsweeper is a privately owned corporation designed to manage the Internet access and activity of Internet users around the world.
However, a report from University of Toronto Citizen Lab has revealed that the company is doing a whole lot more than it might have been intended to by partnering with government bodies around the world in censoring internet content.
The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto, focusing on research, development, and high-level strategic policy and legal engagement at the intersection of information and communication technologies, human rights, and global security.
Based on their 2018 report, Citizen Lab says that Netsweeper filtering solutions blocked religious content in Bahrain, political campaigns in the United Arab Emirates, and media websites in Yemen.
But there is more.
The company is also involved in blocking Google searches for keywords related to LGBTQ identities and blocking non-pornographic websites in various countries on the basis of an apparent miscategorization of these sites as ‘Pornography’, and categorizing other LGBTQ sites as censored ‘Alternative Lifestyles’, including sites belonging to “civil rights and advocacy organizations, HIV/AIDS prevention organizations and LGBTQ media and cultural groups.”.
“Netsweeper’s filters are violating international human rights guidelines. They have recently admitted internal changes are needed, but research by Canadian group Citizen Lab shows that their filter targeting LGBT+ content was still active as of December 4.” All Out, a movement for equality for LGBTI+ people, reports.
All Out is sponsoring a petition against Netsweeper to stop providing LGBT+ censorship filters and ensure their technology is not used to violate human rights.
To join thousands of human rights advocates from around the world against this violation of human rights, sign the petition against netsweeper.