March 01, 2006

PR Flacking Strategy and Secure Computing v. BoingBoing

In following some of the postings about BoingBoing Censorware'd as Nudity, I was intrigued by Susan Getgood's assessment. This is notable since it's coming from a past PR flack for a censorware company (CyberPatrol/SurfControl):

What I am interested in are the PR and business implications. Because this will end up being more than just a PR firestorm that will blow over in a few weeks. This will become a business nightmare. Blogs are going to spread the word further faster and more furiously than we ever faced in the old days of the Communications Decency Act. And the folks at BoingBoing have much more clout -- through the blog and their other business and personal interests -- than any of the opponents the filtering companies faced before.

Figure it out fast, Secure -- blogs *are* more than just "personal diaries" and now, you've got the most popular one in the world gunning for you.

Like I said, glad I'm outta this space!!!!!

I'm interested in the PR implications too, but from the opposite perspective :-).

Hmm. I have a hard time making an estimate, since the Boingers operate on a whole different level from me, being that they're on top of blog-mountain (my first instinct is to refer to how little blogging has helped my own anti-censorware activism, but that's not relevant, since I'm a marginalized Z-lister). However, I can think of a couple of obvious tactics that Secure Computing's flacks could take, which I won't detail now since I don't want to give them ideas.

My sympathies are of course clear. But I'm also quite Eeyore-ish after all I've seen happen.

[Update - Susan Getgood, from comments - "Seth - You didn't quote my whole post. I said that Secure had made a bad decision, in the initial categorization, and how they handled it subsequently.". Right, I took that as understood from the context, though I'm happy to add this update if it was unclear.]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on March 01, 2006 11:48 PM (Infothought permalink)
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Seth - You didn't quote my whole post. I said that Secure had made a bad decision, in the initial categorization, and how they handled it subsequently.

I also don't believe, and never have believed that countries should legislate Internet access. That's why we spent a lot of time, and money, to defeat the Communications Decency Act.

That said, it has always smacked a bit of colonialism for the US to try to determine what is and is not right for other countries. We can have an opinion, but in the end, we should not force *our will* on other nations. That's my *personal* political opinion. Nothing whatsoever to do with past professional affiliation.

Posted by: Susan Getgood at March 2, 2006 01:03 AM

No confusion meant, post updated for clarification. I was focusing on your view "This will become a business nightmare."

Someday, I want to find out the whole story of the CDA court battle money. I've heard bits and pieces. Yes, I know that position. Very well. I got quite personally extensively smeared in the *political* payoff for that, after the defeat of the Communications Decency Act.

The topic of universal human rights vs. cultural relativism is a whole different discussion.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at March 2, 2006 01:18 AM


How does one know if their blog was included in any censorware? Do I look into my raw stats? Do I call the company? I have noticed a decline in hits coming from places like India and the US military and I wonder if it is because we have Sex as a category even though the topics usually revolve around sexual politics and reproductive rights.

Posted by: liza at March 3, 2006 11:43 AM

liza: There's no simple way. Some companies have an online lookup that can be used for a few URLs at a time. The difficulty is a reason my decryption work was important, but sadly, I couldn't get the necessarily legal and journalistic support to continue it.

For SmartFilter, when I checked,turns out that CULTUREKITCHEN.COM is "Sexual Materials" in one version, and "Mature" in another version.

List Current Categorization Suggest Change

V4 Politics/Opinion, Sexual Materials

3.x Premier Politics/Religion, Mature

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at March 5, 2006 04:49 PM