October 15, 2007

"When US-made 'censorware' ends up in iron fists"

Excellent article: When US-made 'censorware' ends up in iron fists, not the least because I'm quoted

"Some people say [censorware] is ineffective because dissidents can get around it," says Seth Finkelstein, a programmer and anticensorship activist. "I say political control doesn't have to be 100 percent to be effective. Controlling the ability of the vast majority of the population to see outside information is still very effective for the goals of the totalitarian regime."

And it's an accurate quote. In the course of conversation, I gave a version with parallelism "Some people say censorware is ineffective because dissidents can get around it, some people say censorware is effective because only dissidents will get around it". But the version used is just fine.

It's good to see that the connections between censorware companies and repressive governments is continuing to make news.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware , press | on October 15, 2007 12:06 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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Don't know whether you follow the censorware trades news, but you may be interested to know WebSense completed their purchase of SurfControl earlier this month. Apropos to your blog entry, most of the development work formerly the responsibility of US and UK teams will supposedly be done at a new office in Beijing.

Lest the thrill of schadenfreude overcome you, I hasten to point out that those of us made fabulously wealthy by oppressing untold millions of high school students trying to fuck around on myspace have quickly found new jobs. WebSense offered us pretty crappy temporary or relocated positions which nobody seems to have accepted.

In job interviews I always used the term 'censorware' to describe my former job. When that drew blank stares I would add "you know, porn filtering".

Posted by: Travis Finucane at October 16, 2007 02:40 PM

I had seen the buyout news in general, but not the offshoring aspect. That's ironic, a sort of what goes around, comes around.

Those made fabulously wealthy were not the grunt programmers, but the executives who got the stock options during the bubble. I don't wish random censorware company employees ill. And did you ever hear my joke that the amount of effort I put into censorware-fighting could have fueled an IPO? Nowadays, I deeply regret I didn't take that path.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at October 16, 2007 06:49 PM

Well we're all getting respectable jobs now, at any rate. For example, I was hired to pull the fingernails out of detainees at Camp X-ray. I never really thought you had any hard feelings for us -- except maybe the lobbyists forcing our crapware on librarians.

I have of course come across your rueful statements to the effect that the opportunity costs of fighting the good fight were too great. Like you really need a third masarati.

Posted by: Travis Finucane at October 19, 2007 12:22 AM

For the record, I didn't get rich in the net.bubble. I don't even have a car.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at October 19, 2007 11:43 AM