March 09, 2005

"No Child Left Behind" and Censorware Blacklists

"No Child Left Behind" is a particularly controversial Federal education law. It's also the program which was connected to a scandal of conservative commentator Armstrong Williams being paid to promote it.

An opposition site to the law - - finds itself on a censorware blacklist, as "Political/Advocacy Groups", and so it's not readable in certain schools: Big Brother Comes to School: Telling Teachers What to Read and What to Believe (via

It's a tale of a typical "censorware shuffle". The administrators have no idea what blacklists are in place and what's blacklisted (they probably think censorware "filters pornography"). The service reseller (SonicWall), as a hardware manufacturer, just repackages the censorware blacklists (here, "Cerberian"). The censorware company will say the site fits their category, so it's the school policy maker's fault. Everyone's fingers point to someone else. And the eventual effect of it all is that the government has a free hand to propagandize. While critics - who remember, are sometimes told by net-bubble-blowers that The Uncensorable Internet gives them an equal opportunity to be heard, because you can put up a website - are marginalized from important audiences.

There's an excellent accompanying overview by Nancy Willard of Constitutional and Legal Issues:

1. Who is making the decisions about what categories to block and on what basis?

2. Has this decision been left to the tech director, who likely has not had an educational law class so may be unaware of issues related to a student's constitutional right to access information?

3. Have categories been blocked based on a desire to avoid controversy?

4. Or has the school official taken advantage of the grouping done by the company to block categories that are likely to be more controversial.

I really shouldn't read these articles, no point for me.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on March 09, 2005 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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