Ikea’s wifi appears to have an anti-LGBT filter on it which blocks access to websites like The George, Gay Switchboard and the Dublin International Gay Theatre Festival
Ikea’s Ballymun store appears to have a grudge against LGBT content. A man named Tom was browsing the internet via Ikea’s free wifi when he noticed that some content was blocked by Ikea’s web security provider, including LGBT content that was not of an explicit nature.
While browsing the internet, Tom tried to navigate to publin.ie, a website which professes to be Dublin’s pub guide but he discovered that the website was blocked on the grounds of “alcohol and tobacco”.
“I was in Ikea in Ballymun in the past few days and was using your wifi and I happened to click on a link to www.publin.ie and the website was blocked under the grounds of ‘alcohol and tobacco’!” Tom wrote in an email to the Scandinavian homeware giant.
“I wondered what else was blocked. I tried a few dodgy websites and they were blocked. Fair enough.”
When Tom tried to access LGBT content, however, he was restricted from doing so.
“Why do you block access to The George Pub, Gloria the gay choir, The Frontrunners running group, The Gay Theatre Festival, outhouse.ie, Gay Switchboard, Glen.ie and The Gay Hiking Group,” he asked, “but not The Globe bar (on [the] same street), The Dublin Gospel Choir, Sportsworld Running Group and the Dublin Theatre Festival as a comparison?
“Is the common word here ‘gay’? It’s certainly not pub, choir, running or theatre festival! Please explain.
“Is gay an adult/pornographic term to you and your web security people,” he asked.
“Why the anti-gay slant?”
An Ikea employee confirmed that they had been made aware of this issue, that they are investigating the alleged bias and would provide an update once they had more information.
UPDATE: A spokesperson from Ikea provided the following statement on the situation:
“At IKEA, we stand for equality and the right to be treated fairly, regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, ethnicity, race, nationality, religion or any other dimension of identity. We want to assure customers that the word ‘gay’ is not blocked by IKEA or its internet security service.
“IKEA Dublin use the same internet provider as all IKEA stores worldwide as part of a global service. This service includes content filtering, which serves to protect our customers, particularly their young children, from accidentally stumbling upon inappropriate content on the internet while visiting our stores.
“Having looked into the recent case brought to our attention by a customer, the websites that were attempted to be accessed were categorised as sites that may contain content topics of an adult nature and content not recommended for children. These categories are not developed by IKEA, but rather by the filtering service company connected with the internet provider.
“After reviewing the websites that the customer highlighted, we have passed this information on to our global internet provider and requested that they review the categories used to filter these websites.”
Image: William Murphy via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
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