September 06, 2002

Censorware bans student research on "terrorism"

[This was sent to a reporter regarding a story about high-school students being prevented by censorware from searching for sites concerning "terrorism"]

I noted in your article "Filters, Schools Like Oil, Water", that "Calls to the New York City Board of Education about filtering were not returned.". I think the information you want is partially on the NYCENET.EDU website, in particular the page about Internet policy:

Note the blacklist categories of "crime", "intolerance", and "violence". Even though the policy talks of modification for grades 9 through 12, just on inspection, it's a good bet that one of those blacklists was the problem.

I'm an expert regarding censorware, having been honored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation with an EFF Pioneer Award for my work (see ) . The program in this case is I-Gear, which I've analyzed. Without getting into the technical details, from the last time I analyzed I-Gear, I can confirm that the word "terrorism" (and also "terrorist") is blacklisted by I-Gear in the "crime" category. So searching for sites about "terrorism" will likely be banned.

It's often easy to find out what blacklists are in use by I-Gear. Just try "". That's an anonymity site. Those kinds of sites - privacy, anonymity, language translation, etc. - are banned in all blacklists, because the sites represent a "loophole" in the control of censorware (see my report on this topic, BESS's Secret LOOPHOLE . Unless the display has been changed, I-Gear gives the various blacklists which cause a site to banned. So "" should return all blacklists in use, since it's in every blacklist.

Feel free to contact me if you'd like further information.

[Entry update: The I-Gear censorware has the word "anarchist" in the crime category too, and even worse than the word "terrorist"]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on September 06, 2002 03:56 PM (Infothought permalink)

Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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