Monday, November 7, 2011

Sheraton Hotels Implement Chinese-style Internet Censorship, Block Alternative News Websites

Infowars, Activist Post, and Federal Jack blocked by Sheraton Hotel's 'harmful content' filter.

Activist Post

In the wake of the Department of Homeland Security announcing its propaganda partnership with hotels to recruit citizen spies, a loyal reader alerted us that the Sheraton Ferncroft Hotel in Danvers, Massachusetts is blocking access to alternative news websites using a content filter service called IBAHN. The firsthand account of which websites were blocked is as follows:
FYI, this past weekend I attempted to search for InfoWars, ActivistPost & FederalJack using public access computers in the lobby of a hotel run by Sheraton. All three websites were blocked from allowing the public to read or view the websites. 
Apparently this Chinese-style Internet censorship is not new for Sheraton Hotels & Resorts.  In 2006, Sheraton Atlanta Hotel proudly announced a deal to use SonicWALL content filtering service. They were employed by Sheraton to provide "an additional layer of security to protect against today's most damaging Internet threats."

More specifically, they "filter inappropriate or unproductive Websites, block .exe attachment files, instant messaging applications and streaming media, and enable a new level of visibility into Internet usage patterns and number and type of sites blocked."

In 2008, writer and activist Robyn Ochs was shocked to discover that she couldn't access her own website in Sheraton's Starwood lobby.  The hotel, which uses SiteCoach to censor their web content, told her:
The company that installs and maintains the systems have promoted these systems to a kid friendly, family friendly environment. I am sure you can understand that there are several sites on the internet that are viewed as offensive by the general public and for that reason, programs have been developed to ensure that the majority of viewers are met with non-offensive material.
In 2009, Ron Paul supporters reported that the Dulles Sheraton Hotel flagged Campaign for Liberty as containing harmful content.  Also using SiteCoach, who cited the forbidden keyword "racist" as the reason for blocking CFL:
A friend checked out of the Dulles Sheraton Hotel yesterday morning. Before leaving to catch his flight, he used the hotel internet service to check the sites that he reads each day. He could not access Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty site. The message 'Code 451 – The access to the address above is restricted. According to our harmful content database, SiteCoach does not allow you to visit this page' appeared. When he tried again and held the key down a very brief message appeared that said 'Forbidden: keyword racist.'
A traveler review on Trip Advisor from earlier this year complained that Sheraton Indianapolis City Centre Hotel blocked websites they deemed morally dangerous; "This hotel also restricts their internet sites, so if you need access to site they find 'morally' dangerous to their network, they are blocked."  He rated his stay two stars because of the censorship.

It seems contradictory that they would heavily censor alternative information on a public computer to promote a family friendly environment, while they sell hardcore porn with a click of the remote.  Are there any potty-trained kids who don't know how to use a remote these days?  Sheraton apparently believes porn is morally appropriate for their customers, but alternative ideas are harmful and dangerous.

If this type of censorship at a leading hotel bothers you, please make your voice heard.  Call or write to the hotel referred to by our reader (see below), or write testimonials on TripAdvisor, Expedia and all other travel sites to express your disapproval.  Or simply boycott them and tell them why.

Sheraton Ferncroft Hotel
50 Ferncroft Road
Danvers, MA 01923
978-777-2500

If you have experienced this type of censorship at any other hotel, please comment below or contact us:  activistpost at gmail.com



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18 comments:

Anonymous said...

After reading this, I'll never stay at a Sheraton.

Anonymous said...

Boycott Sheraton. Publicize their nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to SHARE THIS ARTICLE!

Anonymous said...

I guess Best Western gets to keep my business. Never a block, best wifi for any hotel chain, AND they take pets! They're also much cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Just called them and let them know that I am going out of my way to spread the word Re this so people will not stay at their Chinese communist hotel

Anonymous said...

How ridiculous!!!! We need to speak out while we can

Anonymous said...

Offensive material? The Sheraton's censorship tops my list of 'Offensive'. I'll never stay there! Prison-net.

Anonymous said...

I'm a flight Attn for S.W.A. We stay at the PHL.Crown Plaza Downtown. They also block Infowars. from their computers. #(215)561-7500

mapi said...

It is the Sheraton Ferncroft Hotel located at 50 Ferncroft Rd.,Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 777-2500

Anonymous said...

I don't approve of what Sheraton is doing one bit but, from a libertarian point of view, it's a private business and they can censor their Internet if they want. Of course I'll never stay there again because of this.

Alexander Higgins said...

here is an even better one.... I recently purchased a virgin mobile 3g hotspot. My very own hotspot, which also censors alternative news sites. I actually needed to call their customer support and sit on the phone for over an hour to have them disable their content filter to get on WhatReallyHappened.com while out at Occupy Trenton.

Activist said...

Anon 7:13, you're absolutely right that they should be allowed to filter anyway they see fit.

Of course, there's still the bit about them being forced to promote DHS's citizen spy program, "See Something, Say Something."

It seems to me, I'd rather see the government be used to protect and enforce "free speech", rather than impose state-sanctioned mandatory fear mongering at hotels.

EB
Activist Post

Anonymous said...

Simple! Don't stay with them! Hit them, where it's hurt! In the wallet!
When you book a hotel room, ask if their internet is censored, if yes, tell them nicely "I'll book somewhere else"
Message will get through, or they'll close their door to business!

Go Seattle said...

I've had a few DDOS attacks. But I'm small fry blogging...I'm not a threat, yet.

I will post this and cross link it back...

Anonymous said...

I'm currently staying at a Sheraton hotel in Chile and frankly the wi-fi internet for which they have the cheek to charge guests is so diabolical that I can barely read my email let alone log onto any sites, "subversive" or otherwise. This is also the VERY last time I will opt to stay at a Sheraton anywhere. Sheraton SUCKS big time!

mapi said...

The real story is iBAHN and how many companies use their private network. An iBAHN pdf. reveals they are in 500 companies. Their internet service is even in UK hotels.
http://www.ibahnemea.com/pressreleases/PR%20Sofitel%20Heathrow%20T5.pdf

iBAHN conforms to EU Data Retention Directive:

3.iBAHN is recognised worldwide by major customers for its ability to meet the needs of hotel brands and their guests on every continent in the world. As part of this service provision, iBAHN owns a significant number of public IP addresses that are assigned to end users, which makes it responsible for this data under the terms of the directive.
http://pressitt.com/smnr/iBAHN-conforms-to-EU-Data-Retention-Directive/12/


Hotelier Technology Update, Private Networks:

Corporate customers increasingly value the security of their connectivity when on the road. With
Sarbanes-Oxley data control requirements, the security of remote computers has become a major
concern for large organisations. Recent news stories have covered phishing and spyware rings
targeting hotel guests. A key benefit of the private network is the ability to provide full security, so
corporations can rely on their corporate security measures to work at your hotel.

iBAHN manages a proprietary VPN certification programme, which has certified 500+ corporations
and government agencies. With iBAHN, it is not simply a matter of making sure that a Cisco- based
VPN system works, iBAHN consults with each corporation to set up and test the configurations so that all travellers from that company have a secure and seamless experience. Here are some examples of how corporations are managing their lodging choices based on security configurations:
1. Lockheed-Martin has stringent security standards, and has certified their VPN security
models with iBAHN. Hotels which are on the iBAHN network are the only hotels that
Lockheed-Martin recommends for events. Members of Lockheed-Martin staff were
planning to switch ongoing accommodations to on-net iBAHN hotels, because of the
network security. The hotel, instead, switched to become an on-net iBAHN hotel.

http://www.ibahn.com/en-us/public/docs/10_Private_Networks.pdf

They're listed as a private compnay in Utah:

Ibahn General Holdings Corporation


10757 River Front Parkway P
South Jordan, UT84095-3545map


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Sub Metering & Billing Utility Management for the multi family industry - (888) 825-2590 www.unitedutilityservices.com

Website:www.stsn.comPhone: (801) 563-2000

The information can be found at:
http://www.manta.com/c/mmfzfpy/ibahn-general-holdings-corporation

Anonymous said...

I'm at the Sheraton in Hawaii right now & they let me see any website I want to goto. Just giving you guys a point of reference b/c not all Sheraton's do this. I can't speak for the one described in this article as I've never been there.

slrman said...

It isn't as if any rational person still believes the USA is a free country. Think about it. No-warrant wire taps, indefinite detention of citizens without charges, approval of rendition of prisoners and torture, stop and frisk without probable cause, search and seizure without a warrant, no-knock entry, confiscation and destruction of cameras that might have been used to film police acting illegally, police brutality, police shootings that go without investigation, managed news, and the civil-rights destroying "Patriot" Act.


Acts of police behaving illegally, with shootings, Tasers, and unwarranted violence now appear almost daily. Rarely are these offenses punished. Most often "an investigation" is claimed, but soon forgotten.



In addition, the USA, with 5% of the world population, has 25% of all of the prisoners in the world. That means the USA has the most people in prison of any nation in history. Even by percentage of residents incarcerated, not just sheer numbers. USA is # 1.



Does any of that sound like a free country?


As Dwight D. Eisenhower said about communism, "It's like slicing sausage. First they out off a small slice. That isn't worth fighting over. Then they take another small slice that isn't worth fighting over. Then another and another. Finally, all you have left is the string and that isn't worth fighting over, either.

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