[Server-devel] Filtering and authentication
Henry Edward Hardy
hhardy01 at gmail.com
Mon Apr 27 11:03:59 EDT 2009
I'm a bit disturbed when I hear people using the euphemism "filtering" for
automated, computerized censorship. I understand there may be legislative or
political mandates. However, we should never talk about this as though it is
a good or desirable or acceptable thing.
I realize this may be seen as off topic from the merely technical discussion
of how to implement computerized censorship, but when we calmly discuss
technicalities of something which is obviously wrong without questioning it,
then the discussion needs to be aired.
"Filtering" is what you do to the water in a fish tank. "Censorship" is when
a state or quasi-state agency proscribes and limits access to certain
classes of written material.
Here are a few tests we should apply to any such proposed system.
Does it allow access to information about "Romeo and Juliet"? (Underage sex,
gang-oriented violence, suicide, murder)
Does it allow access to "Huckleberry Finn" (Slavery, frequent use of the
Does it allow access to "The Catcher in the Rye" (Use of "fuck", blasphemy,
drinking, smoking, lying, promiscuity, implied pederasty)
Does it allow access to "Heather has Two Mommies" (Lesbianism)
Does it allow access to "Our Bodies, Ourselves" (Information about human
health, sex and sexuality)
Does it allow access to "Slaughterhouse-Five" (Genocide, strategic bombing,
Does it allow access to "Of Mice and Men" (Retardation, sex, rape, murder)
Does it allow access to "The Handmaid's Tale" (Sexual roles, patriarchy,
racism, and theocracy)
Does it allow access to "The Kite Runner" (Homosexuality, rape)
Does it allow access to "His Dark Materials" (Anti-state, anti-catholic,
magic and witchcraft)
Does it allow access to "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Alchemy, murder,
Does it allow access to "1984" (Torture, illicit sex, anti-state and
Does it allow access to "Canterbury Tales" (Promiscuity, anti-clericalism)
Does it allow access to "The Decameron" (Anti-state, anti-Catholic and
general ribaldry, such as the Third Day, Tenth Story, "How to put the Devil
And in terms of websites particularly,
Sites which criticize the ruling party or government.
Sites which criticize or parody the predominant religion.
Blogs, in general
And classes of internet services such as
Peer-to-peer file-sharing services such as Bittorrent, EMule, Gnutella
In general, censorship is bad and morally wrong; and automated, computerized
censorship especially so; and we should never refer to it by a purpose-made
and innocuous-sounding term like "filtering" or treat it as though it is
morally or pedagogically acceptable.
"What progress we are making. In the Middle Ages they would have burned me.
Now they are content with burning my books."
--Sigmund Freud, 1933
also posted to my blog at http://scanlyze.wordpress.com/
On Sun, Apr 26, 2009 at 12:47 PM, Anna <aschoolf at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, Apr 26, 2009 at 10:51 AM, Reuben K. Caron <reuben at laptop.org>wrote:
>> A free and simple solution, while not bullet proof (no content filter is
>> that I am aware), is Open DNS. They are even CIPA compliant in the US:
> That's what I set up for our pilot school, which was very easy as the XS's
> DSL connection has a static IP. OpenDNS provides different filtering
> options, which you can customize as necessary. Being in the US, CIPA
> compliance is absolutely vital to retain certain federal funding, and
> OpenDNS was the quickest and easiest way to accomplish that. Dansguardian
> can be CIPA compliant, but there are other steps involved and I was wary of
> unintentionally running afoul of the rules.
> http://dansguardian.org/?page=faq#15 Not to mention Dansguardian consumes
> server resources. OpenDNS doesn't use any server resources and you can
> easily configure the filtering to be CIPA compliant.
> As far as limiting the internet connection to authorized XOs, that's an
> issue we're probably going to run into at some point once we broaden the XS
> deployment. So far at the pilot school, the staff members connect to the
> internet with their personal laptops and iPhones, but I haven't really heard
> any complaints of abuse yet.
> If your deployment is relatively small, it should be easy enough to add the
> hardware addresses of the trusted XOs to dhcpd.conf and disallow unknown
> machines (or play pranks on them as suggested at
> Anna Schoolfield
> Server-devel mailing list
> Server-devel at lists.laptop.org
The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the
relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be
confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.
--Edward R. Murrow, 1964
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