...and Safe for Truth


11th January 2023

Linux Users Matter!

Browser rejection noticeDiverse Diversity Campaign Director, K.J. Petrie, has written to his local town council to protest about software discrimination on its website. On accessing the site to find contact details for his ward’s councillors he was greeted by the unfriendly message pictured. His response was to write the following e-mail:

Dear Sirs,

I tried to find out who my Town Councillor(s) is/are by following a link on the StartPage search engine to your Councillors page but was refused the information by your server because I am not using one of your four chosen browsers!

I use Pale Moon 31.4.2 which is the latest release of the software and I tried all three versions of the User Agent string but your website will not accept any of them.

Refusing to serve information to minorities simply because they are minorities is denying access to minority citizens for no good reason other than a clear desire to discriminate against them because they are a minority. It is anti-competitive and anti-innovation and serves no useful purpose other than to deny some citizens access, contrary to the second sentence in your Accessibility Statement, which reads “We want as many people as possible to be able to use this website.” Putting artificial barriers in the way of access shows that to be a deliberate lie.

There is nothing preventing my access other than that someone has decided to interrogate the User Agent string and restrict access to users of four specific browsers, denying all others. All standards-compliant browsers would otherwise be able to receive and display the information.

Ironically, I am the founder and Director of the Diverse Diversity Campaign, which seeks a broader understanding of diversity and inclusion beyond the narrow range of specific categories defined in that Act and oppose all unfair discrimination on any grounds whatsoever. Browser use might not be a protected category under the Equality Act, but that just shows the inadequacy of an Act based on specific kinds of unjust discrimination which is unfair to everyone who suffers injustice on any other basis.

I hope you will remove this artificial and unnecessary restriction so your website will be open to all, irrespective of their ethical principles with respect to Software Freedom.


K.J. Petrie.

He denied this was a trivial matter, saying,

“This might seem petty compared with many human rights abuses in this world, but it isn’t because it goes to the heart of the problem with current legislation and the narrow unequal attitude it reflects. All unfair discrimination is an injustice, penalising people for irrelevant preferences or characteristics and thus reducing their freedom as human beings. This exposes how illogical it is to single out certain characteristics for special protection while permitting prejudice and injustice to rule on everything else. Some people have strong political views about Software Freedom and it isn’t legitimate for governmental or commercial organisations to discriminate in a way which disadvantages them just because they seek to act in accordance with their beliefs. Human beings are not divided into a handful of particular groups which can be the basis of equal treatment. We are infinitely variable and entitled to fair treatment whatever particular variations we have. Diverse Diversity is about respecting people’s individuality and treating everybody as equitably as circumstances permit, which means only taking decisions or erecting barriers when there is a clear and relevant purpose. Their choice of web browser is not a relevant basis for denying them access to information, and therefore this violates the principles of Diverse Diversity.

“There could be a silver lining if this enables me to explain what Diverse Diversity stands for in practice. Maybe public authorities will begin to see the point.”

He added that it was unfortunate the two sentences in the penultimate paragraph of his e-mail seem to have become transposed during sending, but thought readers would still be able to understand the point made.