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There has been some news coverage recently about Websense URL filtering technology being used by Internet service providers (ISPs) in the country of Yemen. The company would like to take this opportunity to comment on the situation, and issued the following statement:
Websense has a long-standing anti-censorship policy, published on its Web site that states:
“Websense does not sell to governments or Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that are engaged in government-imposed censorship. Government-mandated censorship projects will not be engaged by Websense. If Websense does win business and later discovers that it is being used by the government, or by ISPs based on government rule, to engage in censorship of the Web and Web content, we will remove our technology and capabilities from the project.
Websense does, however, allow its products and technology to be used in “global filtering” projects where the government mandated policy (1) prohibits minors from accessing pornography and/or (2) prohibits child pornography. With the above guidelines in place, an example of an acceptable use would be government-mandated blocking of pornography to minors by the ISP. If the government requires ISPs to block adult content from all users, but permits an adult user to gain access to that content after providing proof of age, this would be in compliance with our stated policy. Websense, however, does not engage in any arrangements with foreign governments (or government-imposed arrangements) that could be viewed as oppressive of rights.”
We were notified of possible non-compliance with our policy by ISPs in Yemen on Friday, August 7. After an initial investigation into the circumstances, we released the following statement:
“Since we were informed about the potential use of our products by Yemeni ISPs based on government-imposed Internet restrictions in Yemen, we have investigated this potential non-compliance with our anti-censorship policy. Because our product operates based on a database system, we are able to block updated database downloads to locations and to end users where the use of our product would violate law or our corporate policies. We believe that we have identified the specific product subscriptions that are being used for Web filtering by ISPs in Yemen, and in accordance with our policy against government-imposed censorship and compliance review policies (http://www.websense.com/content/censorship-policy.aspx), we have taken action to discontinue the database downloads to the Yemeni ISPs.”