Monday, October 17, 2011

Montgomery County Spends $67,408 a Year to Censor Internet // Plus, Amtrak Blocks LGBT Newspapers on WiFi Soft-Launch

UPDATE: A Montgomery County employee has sent word of Chairman MoCo's Iron Firewall blocking more LGBT websites. Our source sends notice of the following blocked sites: Seattle Gay News (,,, etc. Once again, all have been listed as porn.

Amazingly, Maryland Juice is on an Amtrak train right now and was trying to verify that Seattle Gay News was not a porn site (it is not), and I stumbled across the following amazing development. Amtrak also appears to be blocking LGBT news sites from its WiFi connections! WTF. The site contains offensive articles, like this recent headline: "Youth suicide prevention funds on WA state's chopping block". 

But apparently an equally big story is that Maryland Juice stumbled upon the soft-launch of Wifi service on its Northeast Regional Line. I just spoke to a subcontractor of Amtrak who wanted to know how my connection was acting. I am running on a fairly stable connection from NYC to Washington. 

Even still, my excitement is now dampened.  A Maryland Juice Facebook reader also noted, "I repeatedly got the same msg when I tried to access Guardian UK last month." The Guardian is a mainstream liberal British newspaper. Amtrak, shame on you:

Here is the original story about censorship in Montgomery County, Maryland that led to the discovery of censorship on Amtrak trains:

In this age of fiscal austerity, Montgomery County has recently revealed that it spends $67,408 ever year to restrict the Internet usage of its employees. Several Montgomery County employees recently emailed Maryland Juice screen captures of censorship in the workplace. The problem was revealed when Chairman MoCo was caught blocking a Maryland Juice link to environmental site That led to reports of a seniors community website, transgendered news articles, and pro-LGBT political groups being blocked for County employees. In almost all instances, these websites have been labeled as pornography (including the Leisure World seniors events calendar).

In email responses to Maryland Juice, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett's press office provided details regarding who they outsourced their censorship too:
The product name is iBoss Web Filters from Phantom Technologies and the FY12 cost is $67,408.
In a follow-up email, MoCo clarified that the cost is annual. For $67,408 we should expect that the product actually does what it says it will -- except, wait.... why are we spending $67,408 a year to censor the Internet -- and do so in a way that includes viewpoint discrimination? If the (predictable) argument is liability -- I bet you could find an insurance policy that costs less than $67,000 year. Unless, you're really into the Chairman MoCo thing....?


  1. Amtrak's filters have a variety of problems; a few weeks ago, Rob Pegoraro tweeted that was being blocked as a porn site ...!/robpegoraro/status/119171281961758720/photo/1

  2. The Amtrak trains on the West Coast, specifically the Cascades in Oregon and Washington, block and I've had that experience.

  3. We are on the verge of living in East Berlin. Prohibited from free speech while politicians steal our future & the cops beat & arrest us for peacefully resisting. We watch ALL OF OUR POLITICIANS repeatedly lie on tv & interviews & then go vote (for the same person who has been proven to be a fifthly liar & accepting large contributions from groups they help in CLEAR conflicts of interest) these CRIMINALS into office & expect them to be honorable. This is ridiculous! Noone will ever be free as long as the hands of corruption continue to strangle us.