February 27, 2006

Boing Boing to net-censors: Get bent! Instead of kowtowing to organazations trying to make the Web "safe" for kindergarteners everywhere, BoingBoing has declared war on Secure Computing's SmartFilter, because they were classified as a "nudity" site, despite 99.6% of their content being nudity-free, and the other 0.4% comprised (primarily, we all know about Xeni's posts) of artistic expression, including Michaelangelo's David. As a result, users in the UAE, Qatar, and even in the USA have been blocked from seeing ANY content from the site, not just the allegedly offensively naked posts. This is a big deal: who do you want deciding what websites you (or your kids) to see?

From the post: "We've decided to help put Secure Computing out of business. We're doing this in three ways: * First, we're publishing a guide to evading the SmartFilter censorware. There are hundreds of ways to defeat these censorware apps, and we're going to catalog as many of them as possible. Permanent link. * Next, we're compiling a list of SmartFilter's dumb classifications. Send us your misclassified SmartFilter sites so we can add them to the list. * Finally, we're producing a guide to convincing your employer to ditch SmartFilter. It consists of parts one and two above: a list of bad SmartFilter classifications and a list of ways that SmartFilter can be shredded like wet kleenex. Why spend money on bad technology that doesn't work?"

  • I think the main reason they've been censored is fact that the majority of their posts come from a standpoint that directly threatens the status quo (see cory's anti-DRM posts for an example), the worst kind of pornography...
  • /Mr_Burns
  • Are these things applied at the state level, or is it a matter of (largely) personal choice as to whether you install and run SmartFilter? The answer is paying for your own access to the Internet or using library access, rather than sponging off your company that wants to cut down on pr0n surfing using company resources. Land of the free, remember?
  • No, Skrik, this isn't personal choice, this is state-level or network-wide censorship.
  • Change networks, then? I guess the people who live in oppressive states are stuck with it until Dubya brings them doggone democracy - one way or the other.
  • Skrik, in this land of the free, you are free to read the link. If you did, you'd see how your comment is a non sequitur. Unless you are calling Qatar and UAE (among other) the of the free.
  • > Why spend money on bad technology that doesn't work? because it's our right as consumers, damnit! and it's almost a tradition by now.
  • No, I read it after I posted the first time. But Dubya has promised freedom to all those (such as in the states you mention) who currently live under the yoke of oppression. And when he fulfils his promise (because he will, you know), then they won't be censored no more (unless they (whoever they turns out to be) too hate your freedom and then take up arms against the American oppressors, and you have yourself another (un)deserved civil war, during which you're going to have to censor Internet access, and raze countless numbers of villages in order to save them and bring them freedom regardless of what and/or who they hate).
  • Hey, my office uses that filter. I always wonder why sites like boingboing and the onion and parts of snopes.com are blocked while everything sports-related is wide open.
  • Hearts and minds, Skrik, hearts and minds.
  • You're absolutely right, Queso, this is a big deal. Bully for BB.
  • Tip: read BoingBoing through Dialed In and enjoy the banner free and filterable (is that a word?) content.
  • speaking of 'dialed in'...secure comp. has a phone# right on their website...it's 1.888.683.3030 ....anyone got a spare coupla hours? i've called them twice already... golly, those customer service types sure get upset when you talk to them about fascism...
  • I run several adult websites and frankly I want everyone to see them.
  • Well, I don't know... I like BoingBoing a lot but I've seen a lot of risque ads on there. I mean let's call a spade a spade... if you're going to have ads like that on there regularly, you're going to get some sideways glances.
  • Smartfilter can justify their censorship however...oh. never mind.
  • This explains why boingboing was blocked at work this past week, while ytmnd.com was unblocked.
  • Boy, this reminds me of when boingboing decided to censor it's own readership by turning off comments. How's that for free exchange of ideas and community? How about getting bent Cory? And while you're at it, would you and Xeni mind dialing up the self-promotion a little more?
  • If it means less of that Jardin woman's glamour shots, I'm all fer it.
  • I agree with drpynchon. When Cory isn't talking about Disney (which he's paid to do) or The IT Crowd (which I suspect he's paid to do) he's whittering on about his own fucking crappy books. Please shut the fuck up, Doctorow, you ass.
  • Or at least pony up for more paintings.. (See, we can all do self-promotion. It's easy, you don't need to be all ooh, censorship is baad, m'kay about it. I quite like the IT Crowd though, that red-haired girl's really growing on me...)
  • I think Boing-Boing is about to find out they aren't nearly as powerful as they think they are.
  • This is tangential to the thread but: I sent Corey Doctorow an email asking if he was paid to promote Disney or The IT Crowd, and he says he is not. I don't really see anything wrong with using your own site to promote your own products. I don't think Boing-Boing was ever intended to be a public service.
  • Posting a closeup dick and balls? Yeah, I'll be sure doing that. Michelangelo's David is not a closeup of dick and balls. That is just childish. BB are being a bit stupid about this and I can't see that they really have enough influence to change the moderation methods. I agree with DrPynchon - it just seems like a selfpromotion.
  • Hey I just finished your book, Dr Pinch. I was so absorbed reading it that I missed dinner, which made me sad - guess I was crying a LOT for tea-time. -O-<< Toot toot!
  • WTF?!
  • Ah. I love how the net will keep haunting us in the future over our wicked sins. 'Why, grandma (Not you, Blue! Well, I suppose..: ) ), is this you while a teenager dancing nude in Burning Man?!?'
  • Boing Boing seem to be taking this WAY too seriously. What business is it of theirs if a foreign government or private company censors content on their communication networks?
  • So...SmartFilter now blocks MoFi. At my work, anyhow. It's classified as "Profanity".
  • Fuck you, SmartFilter!
  • SmartFilter now blocks MoFi. At my work, anyhow. It's classified as "Profanity" It's probly my fault.
  • I thought our fanity was pretty amateurish.
  • From the previous link:
    SmartFilter never talks about the repressive governments they do business with. Instead, they focus on a story about keeping little kids from accidentally seeing naked people.
    That's rather dishonest of Cory Doctorow. SmartFilter really talks about keeping kids from accidentally seeing - among other things - this, this, this, this, and this. NO, NONE OF THOSE LINKS ARE SAFE FOR WORK, PUSSIES.
  • WARNING: Skrik's links are not good for anyone the least bit squeamish - the first is a man who's skull has been cracked open, the last includes a child who has been crushed by a train. It's important to see shocking photographs of wars and other tragedies, so that we understand what is happening. But these are gratuitous, it's shocking without reason - and (though I'm not really sure why) I actually felt like I was invading someone's privacy. ------------------------- Smartfilter may be stopping shock sites and porn sites, but it goes so far beyond that - they are the unreasonable ones. Legitimate porn and erotica sites don't want children to have access; they happily register with all the filters to make sure. But Smartfilter wants to limit access to sites like BoingBoing and Monkeyfilter, and they are being being used by governments to block access to entire countries. This is very scary, and I support anyway to get around to get around this that is possible. If you care about your children, you should be monitoring their activity yourself - either use a browser like Bumper cars which allows you to program in the URL, or just put the computer in the middle of the living room, and you can see what they are seeing. If they are old enough to need a computer in their rooms (to do homework, for example), then they are old enough to be allowed onto the internet. Yes, they will look at porn and sex sites - frankly, I wished I had had access to more erotica when I was 12 so I didn't have to keep reading the same three explicit romance novels over and over again. If you don't want them looking at crap or violent porn, talk to them about where to find the good stuff. (Beautiful stories about people who love each other are sexier than most of the crap out there.)
  • Basically, my point is - don't use a computer program to do your parenting. My mum doesn't let my six year old niece on the internet at all, and she doesn't even notice. She's too busy having fun playing her Dora the Explorer game.
  • That's strange. I though the last one was a goatse mirror. I agree with you jb - filters are not the most reliable things out there. My point, however, was that Cory Doctorow misrepresented the filter producer; there are many other reasons for filtering the Internet.
  • So jb, where exactly is the good stuff? :P
  • AI to net-censors: Get Bent!
  • Alex Ander - actually, I don't know. That's what annoys me about online erotica. A site that filtered stories for sexy, well-written and not illegal in most countries would be a good site. It could have the name "sex-filter" - I don't think that's taken yet.
  • /renames MoFi
  • I just searched for sex on Google and I didn't see this site!
  • Skrik, apparently you have to search for chimaera.