IT: Updated Censorware Report - BESS's Secret LOOPHOLE

Seth Finkelstein
Fri, 15 Nov 2002 06:21:18 -0500

	It's been in the news recently that the Supreme Court has
decided to review the decision where the Federal censorware law
"CIPA" was struck down for libraries. See the information at

	So I've revised and updated an anticensorware report of mine:
BESS's Secret LOOPHOLE: (censorware vs. privacy and anonymity):

	This report described a then-secret category, which could
never be unbanned, in the censorware program BESS (BESS is made and
marketed by the company N2H2). A LOOPHOLE turned out to be anything
which let a reader view material prohibited by censorware - such as
anonymizer/privacy sites, language translation sites, even sites which
helped people check the design of their web pages. All of these sites
were banned, at all times, even though they had no pornography or
sometimes any content objectionable at all. They were forbidden
themselves simply because the services the sites provided could be
used to read forbidden material.

	In this update, I've added new examples, such as a site which
gives the general service of allowing people to edit any image file
(since that service can be used to retrieve image files, it's banned).

	The report has also been revised with more discussion of the
legal implications of this banning, including mentions of my report
in expert-witness testimony in the CIPA case, and discussion in the
lower-court decision which struck down the law.

	Almost all news reports describe censorware in terms of
filtering out pornography. But that is not accurate, as it focuses only 
on presumably objectionable material. Censorware is about controlling
what people are allowed to read. That's a profoundly different
problem. And so far the courts have grasped the implications, that
such control requires vast banning to even attempt to be effective. I
hope the courts will continue to maintain that banning anonymity,
privacy, language translation, and so on, in order to make sure no-one
can read prohibited material, is thoroughly against the Constitution.

Seth Finkelstein  Consulting Programmer  sethf[at-sign]
Anticensorware Investigations -
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