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Gay ISP goes gunning for AOL

Allegations of unfair treatment levelled at US giant

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A pro gay and lesbian ISP in the US is calling on AOL to come clean about double standards and how it censors minority interest groups. Charles Honeycutt, founder of the national gay and lesbian ISP, rainbowvoice.com, wants AOL to practise greater consistency with the enforcement of its anti-hate policy. His call for fair play comes after an AOL subscriber in Texas had his online member profile (a personal resume that expresses an AOL member's personality or character) rubbed out because he referred to himself as a "submissive bottom". The Texan's personal profile was erased because it contained language held on AOL's "block list", which prevents users from using certain hate speech and sexually explicit language. What has enraged many users is the apparent double standards practised by AOL, for the lesbian and gay community claims to have identified several anti-gay and racist elements in member profiles that were not deleted. "The challenge is simple," said Honeycutt, who is also backing a boycott of AOL by the lesbian and gay community on 16 November. "We want AOL to make good on their anti-hate policy by fairly and consistently enforcing the rules to all of its users all of the time. The policies should be enforced among all AOL users, regardless of their race, gender or sexual preference," he said. It is understood AOL is meeting gay and lesbian campaigners to try and thrash out a settlement and prevent further escalation. It's not been a good couple of weeks for AOL. Last Thursday the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) filed a lawsuit against the monster ISP. The NBF claimed AOL contravened the Americans with Disabilities Act because its service would not work with software that allows the blind to interact with their PCs -- a claim which has been challenged. Such direct action is not just restricted to the AOL members in the US. In Britain, AOL UK members have threatened to strike over the handling of the company's 0800 trial. ®

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