The British Library apologized to Middle East Forum founder Daniel Pipes on Wednesday for blocking two of his websites on its computers.
Pipes is a prominent American neoconservative historian with a focus on the Middle East and militant Islam.
Writing on danielpipes.org, one of the banned sites – the other being meforum.org – on Tuesday, Pipes said that he wore the ban as “a perverse badge of honor, given that government’s shameful record vis-à-vis Islamism.”
A spokesman for the library, an institution similar in nature and function to the American Library of Congress, informed The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday that the sites were “blocked in error by the filtering software on our public Wi-Fi and have now been unblocked.”
“We have apologized to Daniel Pipes for the mistake and our Electronic Services team has been in touch with his webmaster to confirm the unblocking of the sites,” the spokesman further explained, adding that “we have had issues previously with the filtering software.”
In a phone interview with the Post
, Pipes confirmed that he had received an apology.
While it was possible that his site was blocked due to its many references to political extremism and militant Islam, he said, it was curious that a number of websites associated with actual terrorist groups were accessible through the computers at the library.
While algorithms control which sites are blocked, “people are behind the algorithms,” Pipes added, noting that he wanted to know what criteria were considered when writing the software delineating the parameters of the filtering software.
Writing on his website, Pipes noted that sites promoting Holocaust denial, supporting the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and spreading material for al-Qaida were all accessible.
“I am not asking for these websites to be blocked,” he said, explaining that he is just seeking clarification.