Thu, Jan 15th 2009 8:01am
internet watch foundation
Last month, the Internet Watch Foundation, which maintains a child porn blacklist used by British ISPs, gained some attention after it blocked a Wikipedia page, making it impossible for UK web surfers to make any edits to the online encyclopedia. While they later relented, the episode highlighted the folly of trying to use blacklists and filters to limit access to certain online content. The IWF is back in the news this week, and it's being blamed for blocking access to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, an online store of old web pages. But unlike the Wikipedia episode, only users on some IWF blacklist-using ISPs are having the problem. Perhaps that's a bit better than a blanket ban, but once again, it provides a perfect illustration of why blacklists and filters often do much more harm than good. Are British child-porn surfers really being stopped by the blacklist? That's very doubtful. Meanwhile, plenty of people trying to access harmless content are being effected.
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