July 21, 2007

Nigerian One-Laptop-Per-Child Porn-Browsing and Censorware

Thanks to everyone who mailed me about the "Nigerian pupils browse porn" story:

Nigerian schoolchildren who received laptops from a U.S. aid organisation have used them to explore pornographic sites on the Internet, ... [snip]

A representative of the One Laptop Per Child aid group was quoted as saying that the computers, part of a pilot scheme, would now be fitted with filters.

I wasn't sure if there was any point in my saying anything about this story, since it looked like it was going to be extensively echoed, so what would be the point in my adding my marginal voice to the chorus?

I think the "One Laptop Per Child News" (an independent site) had the best commentary about the utterly mundane situation that sex draws interest: "To focus on it this much means that the reporter really wanted a headline grabbing story or is against the project on a personal level."

I could note that adding censorware to the machines seems problematic. If these are open-source, then removing the censorware will be trivial. And who is going to control what goes on the blacklist? Etc. But it's not like anyone is going to press those issues (oh, I could try playing "citizen journalist", but there's nothing I could do if my phone calls weren't returned, or I was routed to a flack who just kept repeating a PR line).

Frankly, the One Laptop Per Child idea has always struck me as very ill-considered, a bad combination of techno-utopianism and paternalistic colonialism. But I'll get in trouble if I say what I really feel.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on July 21, 2007 04:45 PM (Infothought permalink)
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Oh, go ahead -- make trouble. :) I have similar thoughts about the OLPC project.

Posted by: Kevin Arthur at July 21, 2007 06:23 PM

Well, Seth, I'm glad you didn't actually say anything, oh, negative about OLPC. Don't you know that Nicholas Negroponte never makes mistakes? And, after all, being digital is the height of being...

Posted by: Walt Crawford at July 21, 2007 06:55 PM

I think no matter what I think if their is a way to see porn then people will find it. Did anyone consider one people in the family might do the same.
this is just a part of the internet. filter will not make a difference. you know that even the nintendo wii can be used to look at porn. So I guess we should do the same thing right. ban the program. I don't think so. This is more of a parent problem than any other.

Posted by: john blankey - Business name ideas at July 21, 2007 08:25 PM

Kevin: I said I'd get in trouble - not that I could make trouble :-(. There's a big difference between those two.

Walt: ... of being profitable.

john: It's also a PR problem.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at July 22, 2007 04:08 AM