March 02, 2006

The Censorware Taint-Of-Blood Topic

[Non-echo, historical, material below. You won't find it in any other blog before here]

I rarely get a chance to write the following, so I'm going to cheerlead BoingBoing's latest censorware post:

While we don't know which internet filtering product/s is/are to blame in other cases, we're hearing that several other blogs with large audiences, including Wonkette, have just become inaccessible for many fans (including active duty US Marines overseas, hooray freedom!). Censorware is a blunt tool that renders harmless information inaccessible, and fails to prevent "bad stuff" from leaking in. The economic and social impact of internet filtering is a much bigger story than the fact that BoingBoing or Wonkette are blocked -- but if products like SmartFilter dump blogs that post Michelangelo's "David" in the same sandbox as porn sites, just how smart can these products really be?

Yay! Yay! Go, Boingers!! It's so nice to see that shouted from the mountain-top, instead of squeaked from the basement.

Now, though, let me pull out a post from my archives. Compare:

Unfair, Dan. What I told you was:

"On a user home page, generally indicated by the ~, we assume that said user could add additional inappropriate content at any time, so we block the root directory or tilde directory where we find the info. In this case, it is kip."

This is a general rule, which we apply to *any* user homepage that contains adult material. Not specifically to any one user, as you seem to imply below.

We apply the rule based on experience -- users do add new pages/directories of material to their sites. If we blocked each page, page by page, we would have a list that would soon grow too large for our users PCs. And of course, our users can over-ride our list at any time, or not use it at all if they so choose.

And, you are correct, when you have a general rule, it may not be perfect. We are trying to make it better.

One way we do that is by working with site owners who want to isolate their adult material in an easily identifiable directory so we can restrict only the adult material. We would be more than happy to do that with ~kip or any other site that believes that it has material of both kinds -- appropriate for children and inappropriate for children.

Our job is to provide the best possible product for our users. I think we do that. I also think we get better every day, in part because of the feedback we get from our users and the 'net community.

Guess when that was from.

1997. A mailing-list message from Cyberpatrol's then PR-flack (who I actually asked today if she minded my posting that, she said it was a public message, so I could use it. She doesn't work there anymore, no personal views should be inferred).

That is, people were complaining about whole sites being blacklisted for a few files, around a *decade ago* (sigh ...). And censorware companies were saying PR things about it.

So I'm not sure it's different this time :-(.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on March 02, 2006 11:27 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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Hmm. See spam comment above. It seems like somebody has their Technoradar set to search for "PR-flack" and then spams blog comments with advertisements for a computer-err-music retailer company named after a fruit.

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at March 5, 2006 01:13 PM

That spamming was indeed strange, I wonder if it's trying to sabotage spam-comment detection algorithm. Anyway, I've blasted away all of those spam comments manually, so whatever they were trying to do, they didn't succeed here.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at March 5, 2006 04:01 PM