June 03, 2004

"The Memory Hole" site censorware'd by SmartFilter

The Memory Hole website, devoted to "material that exposes things that we're not supposed to know (or that we're supposed to forget)." reports that it's censorware'd on US Army computers:

Trying to get to the site results in the following message:

Access Denied (content_filter_denied)

Your request was denied because of its content categorization: "Extreme;Politics/Religion"

For assistance, contact your network support team.

Nart Villeneuve wrote up a nice investigation:

The facts indicate that http://www.thememoryhole.org/memoryblog/ is blocked, most likely by a BlueCoat appliance configured with SmartFilter 3.0. But the site is not classified as "Extreme;Politics/Religion" but simply "Politics/Religion"? The most likely explanation is that the military is filtering the "Extreme" category and not using to the most recent version of the SmartFilter database. At some point the Memory Hole was probably doubly classified as Extreme and Politics/Religion and, if the military has not updated their blocking lists, is blocked by the military as a result.

(note the link :-))

Purely as a guess, the Abu Ghraib torture photographs of Iraqi prisoners may have been a cause of the blacklisting as "Extreme". Those images are exactly the type of material which gets blacklisted, since after all, they are sexualized abuse and brutal degradation. They just get a pass in terms of people's perceptions, because conceptually it's news.

I should note here that I'd developed a tool which would have made historical/archival investigation much easier in this case. Remember, i couldn't publish it, because of the lack of support for me. The potential benefits (going to others in general, from increasing knowledge) weren't worth risking a lawsuit (falling on me in specific, from the various costs). Thus I had to write off that work. It matters.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on June 03, 2004 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

Subscribe with Bloglines      Subscribe in NewsGator Online  Google Reader or Homepage