May 31, 2003

Censorware circumvention and the Iraqi Information Minister

[Wrote this for a mailing-list, some time back. David Burt's worst moment.]

microlenz(at) wrote
> As for some of the claims made in DC that Seth F. hadn't decrypted
> the database...duhhh

That part was just hilarious. David Burt, censorware company representative, ended up being compared (not by me!) to the infamous Iraqi Information Minister:

MR. BURT: Well, again, as I said earlier, it didn't have any harm because nobody has used the exemption that we know of.

MR. BAND: But Mr. Finkelstein has --

MR. BURT: Excuse me. I'm being censored here. I've got to talk. (Laughter.)

I'm a librarian; I can say that.

As far as I know, no one has used this exemption to do this kind of research. That's why there hasn't been any harm that I'm aware of. But, again, as I said, the harm could be quite bad. If the exemption were heavily used and people were trafficking these lists quite widely, the harm could be quite widespread.

MR. FINKELSTEIN: David, will you authorize me to send to the members of the Panel the complete N2H2 blacklist to prove that I have, indeed, circumvented the encryption?

MR. BURT: Again, as I said earlier, I can't make legal decisions like that for my company. I'm not empowered to do that.

MR. FINKELSTEIN: Well, then, will you reserve your characterization because of the fact that I have offered to prove it?

MR. BAND: I also, not to belabor the point, but this is a little bit like the Iraqi Information Minister saying, "No, there are no American troops in Baghdad," when, you know, the American troops were right there. You keep on saying, "No, no circumvention has occurred," when right next to you there's a guy who has said a dozen times, "I circumvented it and this is what I did." I am a little surprised. That's all I can say. (Laughter.)

MR. BURT: Well, I think it's certainly illustrative that you have compared the filtering industry to the Baath Party, what you think of it. (Laughter.) I think Mr. Finkelstein would probably agree with you. (Laughter.)

MR. FINKELSTEIN: I think more like China.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware , dmca | on May 31, 2003 05:01 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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