July 06, 2006

Jerry Pournelle Censorware'd From Otis Air Base By SmartFilter

Jerry Pournelle is well-known science fiction writer and computing/space-tech pundit. He has some material now on his site being blocked, starting from a reader report:

Dr. Pournelle,

You might be interested to know that at Osan [Air Base], your website domain is explicitly blocked under the category "entertainment, online sales".

First reaction:

I have no knowledge of this. I sell nothing. Well, I suppose I "sell" copies of Strategy of Technology through Paypal and I push my wife's reading program, but that's hardly online sales. I do hope to be entertaining. I really don't know why any Air Base would think me a danger to the troops.

It seems the censorware program involved is SmartFilter. He further describes his experience with its website procedures:

I went to that URl and perhaps it is because my head aches, but I could make no sense of it or of what to do. I suppose it has been explained to how "services" like this "Secure Computing" work, and why anyone would allow them to dictate who is allowed access to whom, but the explanation didn't take. Are these outfits owned by private individuals? Corporate stock holders? "Western Enterprises" (a one-time front name for a CIA overseas corporation)? A religious group? Are they fronts, money makers, or just what? Because they do seem to have considerable power to determine what will be seen by at least some of our citizens.

Does that need discussion?

All journalists want to be entertaining, because no one will read their works if they are not, but I certainly would not call this site primarily an entertainment, and while once in a while I offer things for sale that is hardly my primary purpose. Do they ban all sites that accept Google ads? How does this work? And who decides whether or not to follow the advice of this group?

It's very interesting what happens when writers get "filtered" by censorware.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on July 06, 2006 11:53 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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