July 21, 2004

Censorware'd Hotel WiFi and Georgia libraries - blogs blacklisted

Matt Haughey describes his experiences with a censorware'd Hotel connection. This was using SmartFilter, and it seems it has the same quality as always. Given the blacklist categories in place and how sites were blacklisted, the net result was that many, many blogging sites were blocked (including his own famous site, MetaFilter)

I've been told this system is in place in every public library in Georgia (internet filters are currently required on a federal level or they lose their funding if I remember correctly). I know libraries have a longstanding problem with random folks viewing porn at free kiosks, but I think blocking a major blog service like Blogger is taking this too far. We've already seen examples of voices only heard through blogging, like the Homeless Guy and Salam Pax. They use their blogs as their secret channel to communicate to the world, and it's not hard to imagine someone with an unique perspective on life that was limited to free internet use at a library.

And I checked, that's correct. In fact, even the blacklist categories which include almost all the examples he found, are widely used in the Georgia public libraries (http://www.georgiafamily.com/schools_and_community/libraries_filter_porn.shtml).

The Middle Georgia Regional Library is blocking five of SmartFilter's thirty web site categories, while Houston County is blocking three. Both libraries are blocking the categories of Sex (includes soft- and hard-core pornography and sex discussions), Chat (Web-based chat groups, including chat rooms, instant messaging, and message boards), and Extreme/Obscene/Violence (includes violent, gory, or horrific material related to sex, bodily functions, obscenity, and perverse activities). The Middle Georgia Regional Library is also blocking the Criminal Skills category (sites that give methods for or promote illegal, criminal activities such as bomb-making, computer hacking, murder, burglary, and rape) and the Drugs category (sites that provide information on the purchase, manufacturing, and use of illegal or recreational drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and LSD).

He concludes:

I'm often jokingly comparing bloggers to pamphleteers of yore, but within blogging there are definitely some significant cases where people have a message to get out that can change the world. To find out that an institution of democracy like a library might be barring someone from sharing their perspective with the world saddens me. The irony that I had to go to significant means to even post this entry (my blog software has a *.metafilter.com address) isn't lost on me.

I got a link at the end of the article - thanks!

And remember, I had a SmartFilter analysis tool, but could not publish it. Sigh ...

[Update: Grammar/typo fix (my own), BoingBoing technorati-bait]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on July 21, 2004 11:25 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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