British Columbia Ferry Lines (BC Ferries) - the largest passenger ferry line in North America - has reportedly blocked access on its free Wi-fi service to any site that has sex education or abortion-related content.
In response to a 'Freedom of Information' request, BC Ferries released several documents which show that its BC Ferries' online web filters are designed to block all websites having any kind of sexual material - even if it pertains to legitimate sex education, reproductive health and abortion.
The list of blocked category contents include other predictably filtered items such as like child porn, hate speech, illegal activities and non-sexual nudity as well as bandwidth-hogging stuff such as streaming media and file transfer services.
However, given that sex education is a part of curriculum in British Columbia and abortion is also legalized, the ferry line's decision to block any sexual health or related websites has come in for criticism from travelers as well as civil liberty associations.
Greg Smith, executive director of Options for Sexual Health, told The Vancouver Sun, I don't understand why the ferry corporation thinks this is somehow illicit information...This is information that every human being needs ... I'd love to meet with the ferry corporation management and talk about sex education because clearly they don't understand what it is. The decision was also decried by the BC Civil Liberties association.
However, the BC Ferries authorities stand firm on their decision, justifying it by pointing out that these sites may also often contain material or photographs that could offend or embarrass some of those present.
A spokesperson for the ferry service has been quoted in The Globe and Mail as saying It's totally your business what you look at privately ... the concern is we are in a public place, there are families around ... and if you are surfing in the cafeteria, there are minors there, or someone who might be offended by it.
BC Ferries has also been known to tightly censor the printed material that is available in their on-board shops. It has, in the past, prohibited even acclaimed novels from being sold in their gift shops because of nudity on covers.
The Company however points out that they have received a fair share of appreciation from many using their services, who are thankful for the family values that it upholds through such restrictive policies regarding content available on board.