News - March 1996

GLAAD commends CompuServe for reinstating newsgroups

LOS ANGELES, CA -- The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) commends online service provider CompuServe, Inc. for reinstating all but five newsgroups that had been blocked after a German prosecutor asked them to censor those containing "offensive" words, including "gay" and "lesbian." These newsgroups were being blocked whether or not they contained sexually explicit materials.

"Usenet has become a very important communication device for lesbians and gay men everywhere, particularly to those in isolated areas and situations. The decision to censor these newsgroups in the first place was an insult to the gay and lesbian community. Our issues were suddenly deemed 'offensive,'" says Loren Javier, GLAAD's Director of Information Systems, "We are pleased that CompuServe reinstated our newsgroups."

CompuServe will instead provide free parental controls to reaffirm their "commitment to online safety for families." "This is a much better decision," continues Javier, "It puts control back in the hands of the individual."

GLAAD cautions, however, that no gay and lesbian educational resource materials should be censored. "There are a great many resources about the gay and lesbian community on the Internet, most of which do not contain sexually explicit materials," says Javier, "It is important that this information not be blocked by any means. The Internet is often the first contact many gay and lesbian people have with the community."

The parental controls will come in the form of Internet filtering software CyberPatrol, produced by Microsystems Software, Inc. In November, 1995, GLAAD worked with Microsystems to ensure that gay or lesbian resources would remain unblocked for Internet users.

GLAAD encourages its members to write CompuServe and thank them for reinstating the blocked newsgroups, but to also caution them against blocking any gay or lesbian resource materials, by contacting: Robert Massey, President, CompuServe, Inc. at 70006.101@compuserve.com

Members are also encouraged to report any censorship of gay and lesbian sites to GLAAD by contacting Loren Javier at javier@glaad.org.

GLAAD is a national organization that promotes fair, accurate and inclusive representation of individuals and events as a means of challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.

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