June 26, 2009

"Green Dam" vs Cybersitter

There's a quote attributed to Henry Kissinger about the Iran-Iraq war, where he said, "the ultimate American interest in the war [is] that both should lose.". I feel that way about the conflict with Cybersitter censorware company versus China's "Green Dam" censorware.

I've sat out the whole "Green Dam" China censorware story. There's many prominent organizations doing reports, and an abundance of punditry. There's zero point in at best my duplicating the effort of those with far more resources and reach, and at worst wasting my time (as well as quite possibly hurting my life).

I do want to comment on just one specific aspect, the whine:

This isn't the first time Solid Oak's code has been stolen, Milburn said. In the late 1990s, hackers reverse-engineered CyberSitter, which prevents underage children from accessing pornography or other adult content, to allow users to access such content.

The hackers, as well as other detractors, have previously accused Solid Oak and CyberSitter of censoring the Internet. "That's why we don't want to be associated with it," Milburn said of Green Dam.

I don't think they mean "hackers" in the positive sense of the word. I think a more relevant term is "civil-libertarian software engineer activists" Note reverse-engineering Cybersitter[update: is should be] legal. And Solid Oak had the "CYBERsitter Partners Program"

The new CYBERsitter Partners Program allows concerned organizations to create and maintain their own lists of objectionable Internet sites for either private or public distribution. This gives CYBERsitter users several blocking lists to choose from, selecting ones that more accurately reflect their needs.

Third party blocking lists can be used in addition to the default CYBERsitter lists or as a replacement. Each time users update their files on-line, the index of available lists is updated. Users need only click on the lists they desire to use and they are maintained automatically.

As I've said, from a technical standpoint:

"if parents can limit what teenagers can see, then governments will be able to limit what citizens can see. And the other side is if citizen governments, teenagers will be able to circumvent parents."

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on June 26, 2009 10:05 AM (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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