Friday, December 19, 2008

Update - Sheraton and Starwood Censorship of Robyn Ochs Website Ends

Since I wrote this, bisexuality activist Robyn Ochs heard back from the Starwood Hotels who had taken under consideration her insistence that her website not be blocked by public computer in the Starwood chain (Sheraton, W, Westin, and many others). The issue is that the term "bisexual" was being screened out by the software they use which was created by "family-focused" interest groups to offer a "family friendly" hotel atmosphere.

As I've already said, in no way do I advocate for public computers being free of all blocking software - some material *isn't* appropriate for children - but I believe the users of such programs must act responsibly and, as apparently Starwood has done, at minimum make accommodation for non-sexually focused websites like Robyn's, so people using these computers and wishing to contact her, link to her, or find the valuable information she furnishes will be able to do so free of cencorship restrictions. Here's what Robyn has to say in response to Starwood's latest and then the details of Starwood's answer. Woohoo Robyn!

Robyn's update:

UN-censored (follow-up about Starwood Hotels blocking my website)

Dear All,

I received this response today from Starwood Hotels. Good news, I think.

I have a favor to ask of all of you. When you visit public libraries, hotels, cafes, etc., try going to my website. Please let me know if you find access blocked. Send me as much detail as you can (where, when, what message you received).

Warm regards to all,


Dear Ms. Ochs,

Upon further review by our IT team and Legal Department, we have concluded that your website will not be blocked by the filter. In return for lifting the restriction; we ask that you include this follow up on your website.

Ms. Ochs, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to better respond to our clientele. It is our sincere hope this act renews any lost faith with Starwood Hotels & Resorts and wishes you safe travels in the future.

Andrew Walker
Consumer Affairs Executive Division
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc.


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