It's Not Censorship As Long As We Don't Call It Censorship
from the Malaysian-mayhem dept
Looks like the porn police have kicked into high gear in Malaysia. The government there has just said that all cyber cafes must use web porn filters. We assume this is being done for the sake of the children, as all earnest anti-porn measures are, though the story doesn’t quite make clear what the real intention is. Still, as many people pointed out when the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of mandatory filtering in libraries, the filters will cause many more problems than they’ll fix. Namely, they’ll do a bad job of actually blocking porn sites, they’ll inadvertently block many reasonable and useful non-porn sites, and they’ll be very costly to implement. Even worse, the Malaysian mandate will be forced on private businesses, not on free public computers in libraries. One service provider quoted in the story says that it’s only censorship if filtering is done by the ISP, rather than software on the PCs — where the owner of the PCs gets to pick what filters to use. However, since those filters are mandatory, it certainly seems to qualify as censorship under most definitions we know. The really unfortunate part is that, unlike millions of people in the US, many Malaysians probably don’t have a home computer they can fall back on when the government goes overboard with useless filtering on publicly accessible computers.