November 19, 2003

UK Legalise Cannabis site censorware'd from UK libraries

This deserves wider distribution, especially with US libraries having to deal with the CIPA censorware law:

From: Phil Stovell (phil[at]
Subject: UKCIA Press Release - Essex County Council censorship
View: Complete Thread (19 articles)
Original Format
Newsgroups: uk.politics.drugs, uk.politics.censorship, talk.politics.drugs, uk.politics.misc , uk.local.east-anglia
Date: 2003-11-16 04:15:23 PST

The GreenHouse
Bethel Street

Tel 01603 766854 (home) 01603 773044 (office)

Press release from the UK Cannabis Internet Activists

During the week of 11th November it was drawn to our attention that UKCIA along with other drugs campaigning websites was being censored on computers in libraries run by Essex County Council.

This was happening because the council has taken the decision to ban access to websites which carry information about the use and sale of illegal drugs, even though such sites are not illegal in this country. Indeed, any site which supports harm reduction will carry that sort of information. This decision was taken by a sub committee of the strangely named "Peoples network project board" and seemingly never challenged nor checked.

It should be noted that this ban only applies to libraries in Essex and not schools, so whilst Essex children are permitted to see drugs information sites, adults aren't.

The site was being blocked because the council had decided to use a filter provided by the Smartfilter censorware, provided by the American company Secure Computing which can ban sites which "provide information on the purchase, manufacturing, and use of illegal or recreational drugs", cannabis sites are mentioned specifically.

Fortunately, following an e-mail from UKCIA Smartfilter have realised their mistake and will move UKCIA from the "Drugs, politics/religion" category to "'politics/religion/opinion" and so UKCIA will again be available in Essex when the change takes effect. However, this doesn't address the cause of the problem, which is Essex CC's policy of blanket information censorship.

UKCIA isn't the only site being censored by Essex CC. At the time of writing the LCA ( is blocked as is the Dutch language version of Drugtext (, although not the English version ( for example. Most of the smaller drugs sites aren't blocked however because they're not listed on Smartfilter's database.

UKCIA will try to establish on what grounds Essex decided to censor access to sites such as UKCIA and what parameters they have set for doing so. We'll also try to find which sites are censored, although owing to the way censorware works. Essex CC has no way of knowing which sites are in fact blocked, it's a blind blanket censorship which has no place in British libraries.

UKCIA will be available in Essex libraries again from November 18th

Derek Williams
Webteam UKCIA


Smartfilter censorware website
Check to see if Smart filter is blocking your website
Confirmation of change of category from SmartFilter

UKCIA is the website of the British Legalise Cannabis campaigns and contains a wide range of information relating to cannabis, its uses and the culture it supports. We do not seek to encourage the use of cannabis but we do seek to provide accurate information from referenced sources.

Phil Stovell
South Hampshire, UK

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on November 19, 2003 08:41 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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