The Slippery Slope Of Censorship In ISP Filtering

from the here-it-comes... dept

We've talked about how government attempts to censor certain types of internet content tend to be a slippery slope towards more and more censorship. They usually start out with "child pornography" and then move onto other areas as the line concerning what's acceptable is blurred. It gets even worse when the government doesn't reveal what sites are censored, as it gives them pretty much free reign to block whatever they don't like -- whether or not it's actually problematic. You can watch the walk down the slippery slope over in the UK where some folks in the government are saying that, if they already filter out child porn, why not filter "radical Islamic" websites as well. Does anyone actually believe that it's websites that are turning folks into radical Islamic fundamentalists? Either way, it's not hard to go from there towards censoring other types of content that people in the government don't like, no matter how harmless it might be.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 1:00pm

    My take on freedom of speech is "You should be allowed to say whatever you want, but I reserve the right to make fun of you." So, basically let people say all of the crazy, wacky, stupid stuff that they want to on the public forum of the Internet so it can be critically reviewed by everyone. It will end up worse if you drive the nutjobs underground. And if you don't want to view/read it, don't visit the sites or buy yourself a good filter.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 1:25pm

    Mike maybe you should read this, because many of your arguments are based on the idea of slippery slope. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slippery_slope Just a thought if you want to be taken seriously.

     

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  3.  
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    Matt Bennett, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 1:32pm

    Actually, I DO think that some people are turned into radical muslims by websites. But no, I still don't think they should be blocked.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Matt Bennett, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 1:41pm

    Re:

    Um, Mike IS taken seriously.

    You? Probably not so much.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re:

    Nice fallacy, Matt.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Matt Bennett, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    It was an opinion, nothing more. Therefore, it cannon be fallacious. Not sure you can even quantitatively prove the statement "taken seriously," unless you have much greater faith in polls and focus groups than I do.

    Both you and the author of that wiki article use the label "fallacy" a bit liberally. I think it is a device to disarm opinions you'd rather not argue with.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Hulser, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 1:52pm

    Re:

    AC, you post that link as if it proves that all references to the slippery slope are fallacious, which it does not. Perhaps you read Wikipedia articles like you read TD posts, only remembering what matches your current opinions.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 2:20pm

    OK, a tech place that talks about the power of the Internet and technology can't claim that content on the Internet doesn't influence people. You can't have it both ways.

    No problems with people that post information on how to make a bomb? How to build a nuke? Lists of people to target for sanctions? Thats all ok with you, because it doesn't influence anyone?

    Get real.

     

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  9.  
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    Clueby4, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 2:23pm

    Common Carrier

    They filter they lose common carrier status.

    Which means you can now sue them for:

    - spam
    - virus
    - malware/spyware
    - unwanted packets

    Additionally they'll be considered accessory to crimes utilizing their infrastructure. More like a cliff then a slippery slop.

     

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  10.  
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    Le Blue Dude, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 3:46pm

    Only if...

    They're only aloud to filter radical Islamic sites if they filter radical Christian, Jewish, atheistic, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist...


    I mean, Muslims arn't the ONLY terrorists out there!

     

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  11.  
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    LBD, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Only if...

    my spelling! Gah!

    But, really. This is a serious violation of freedom of speech.

     

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  12.  
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    Palmyra, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 4:44pm

    Re: OK, a tech place

    Hay Coward I made gunpowder in chemistry class when I was in 10th grade, back in 1965, way before the internet. Pipe bombs, any moron can figure how to make one. Nukes? Well my copy of Encyclopedia Britannica has articles on how an implosion nuke works, Nakiska bomb and how a gun nuke works, Hiroshima bomb. One only needs to get the Plutonium or Uranium to make them.

    The Oklahoma City bomb was nothing more than fertilizer and diesel. Farmers have been making explosives from them since the early 1900s.

    No, the internet is not need to teach anyone how to build a bomb.

    If you are going to troll, know what you are talking about.

     

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  13.  
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    chris (profile), Jan 18th, 2008 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Common Carrier

    governments can deal with common carrier in the same way they deal with torture... just change want the term means and then keep doing what you've always done.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 4:48pm

    Re:

    OK, a tech place that talks about the power of the Internet and technology can't claim that content on the Internet doesn't influence people.

    I haven't seen them make that claim.

    You can't have it both ways. No problems with people that post information on how to make a bomb? How to build a nuke? Lists of people to target for sanctions? Thats all ok with you, because it doesn't influence anyone?

    Only your own straw man seems to be doing that.

    Get real.

    That's funny coming from someone holding up a straw man.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 4:53pm

    Re: Common Carrier

    They filter they lose common carrier status.

    They already don't have common carrier status in the US. They have the DMCA instead which is even better because it lets them filter what they want to without being liable for what they don't.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 5:07pm

    Re: Re: OK, a tech place

    Hay Coward I made gunpowder in chemistry class when I was in 10th grade, back in 1965, way before the internet. Pipe bombs, any moron can figure how to make one.

    Times change. A lot of those "science" books from the 1950's and 1960's have now been banned ( i.e. removed from publication and pulled from library shelves). Unauthorized copies of some of them can still be found on the internet though. See the problem?

    Please go turn yourself in now.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 18th, 2008 @ 11:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: OK, a tech place

    Shit, I made gunpowder in chemistry classes when I was younger too. And it was after the internet. Mind, I'm only in my 20s

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 19th, 2008 @ 11:58am

    remember a story in the UK, some kid killed himself with a chemistry set, bout 17 I think, local MP interviewed on telly blaming schools for teaching kids 'dangerous' stuff etc. followed by an interview from a chemistry teacher.. who said something like any of his students that could not work out how to blow something up hadn't studied hard enough.

    its all basic theory really, though I left chemistry at the age of 16 it was a lot of fun.

    its generally thankful that the morons who want to blow people up are too stupid to do it right, the smarter people seem not to want to do it anyway.

    p.s. still depressing them uk doctors who tried to blow up glasgow airport failed.. kind of said they couldn't figure it out. kind of scary as well, that these idiots were practising doctors.

     

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  19.  
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    Celes, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 12:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: OK, a tech place

    And I'm guessing you never went out and killed anyone with it. Boy, thank goodness for personal responsibility.

    My dad got me a chemistry set when I was little, back not so long ago when you didn't have to settle for the Barbie-type ones that you couldn't hurt yourself with (or do anything interesting with) if you really tried. And he willingly showed me how to blow stuff up. Guess what? I've never killed anyone either.

    I don't think that access to information should be banned just because someone may intentionally do something harmful with it, just the same way I don't think that guns, or knives, or cars, or rope, or playground equipment, or... well, you get the picture.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 12:36am

    Re:

    If someone does run across a site that tells them how to make a bomb, then the *most likely* possibility is that they were actually searching for said information. Therefore, the site is not likely to influence them to do something they would not otherwise have done. Yes?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    another mike, Jan 22nd, 2008 @ 4:18pm

    chemistry is fun

    I had one of those Junior Scientist chemistry sets growing up. The first 15 pages of the manual were all the chemical combinations not to make. What chemicals do you think we mixed first?
    My high school chemistry teacher said almost the same thing in '95: "If you don't know how to blow up your lab station by the end of the semester, you won't know enough to pass the final."
    In college, everyone knew where the reactor was on campus, it was published on the school website. After Sep. 2001? No mention of it anywhere. Even the nuclear engineer students weren't told where to go til 2 weeks into the semester!

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Digital Avenger, Jan 27th, 2008 @ 4:37pm

    IP filtering

    What's the big deal?

    Just work via an open online proxy server.
    Plenty of them around.

    For added obfuscation, use Firefox with the
    "http refering" spoofing plug-in.
    (Hey every bit of privacy helps).

    We should rather worry about our Mac address.
    Every device that connects to the net has one.

    Consider this:

    You buy a brand new laptop with wifi and pay with your credit card.
    You then decide to go to a site that you shouldn't go to, so you "roam" with your brand spanking new wifi equipped laptop 20 miles away and use someone else's wireless connection.

    Well don't be surprised if you get a knock on your door by some humourless gentleman in suits and darkglasses.

    How they find you so quickly?
    Easy... when you bought your laptop with the wifi card, you can bet your bottom dollar (or equivalent in your local currency) that the supplier/manufacturer has a list of serial numbers of the equipment you were daft enough to buy with "plastic" money.

    And since our mac address is sent with every single ethernet packet we send out, well you connect the dots!

    Keep in mind that US citizens are probably the most spied on (by their own government) with the possible exception of China or North Korea.

    I'll bet you any amount of money that since 9/11 every ISP in the US has had some extra "boxes" installed on their premises in parallel with their servers.
    Every packet of data will eventually be analyzed by Uncle Sam.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    anon, Jan 27th, 2008 @ 4:44pm

    Re: Only if...

    When last did you hear of a Buddhist suicide bomber?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    anonymous, May 18th, 2009 @ 8:31am

    "Good Samaritan" blocking was allowed in 1996
    by 47 USC 230 the Telecommunications Act. They do not incure "CIVIL LIABILITY" for "any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected;"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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