November 23, 2004

"Internet Filtering in Saudi Arabia in 2004" from OpenNet Initiative

"Internet Filtering in Saudi Arabia in 2004" has just been released by the OpenNet Initiative. This studies the implementation of censorware in Saudi Arabia (which uses "SmartFilter"). Disclosure: There was once some talk of my being hired as part of this project, but that was many months ago, and as far as I know, it's now a very dead idea for reasons ranging from cost to baggage - so don't suggest it, please!

I'm cited twice in the footnotes, which warms my heart. Approximately zero people have followed those footnotes to my site, so it's not going to be a source of readers, though it's good to know at least one person read that work.

In terms of what I've just been discussing currently regarding my Censored Censorware Reports, this passage from the report is very relevant:

Fourth, we base SmartFilter categorizations on tests run using the SmartFilterWhere tool ... The SmartFilterWhere tool lets users check SmartFilter's current categorization of a URL in three versions (version 4, version 3.x Standard, and version 3.x Premium) of the software. The tool does not allow checking a URL's past categorization; thus, it can be difficult to determine whether a URL's classification has changed over time. SmartFilter categories change frequently; of the roughly 26,000 URLs we checked on both dates, 10% changed between dates through having at least one category added to or removed from the URL.

Sigh. Guess what? I WROTE THIS TOOL FOUR YEARS AGO!. That is, I wrote a tool which did not have the limitations of SmartFilter's little web form, a tool which allowed past testing (if one has the past blacklists).

I couldn't publish it. Remember, even the DMCA exemption specifically does not cover tools.

This is where everything such as attacks by famous lawyers to Slashdot's actions, all matters. As a human being, I just can't smile while deeply worried about potentially being smeared and sued.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on November 23, 2004 10:57 AM (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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