How Internet Filtering Blocks All Sorts Of Legit Info
from the here-we-go-again dept
The Canadian National History Society was forced to change the name of its magazine, The Beaver, founded in 1920, because the name of the magazine caused it to be blocked by Internet filters.Again, some of these stories appear to be old ones, which the filtering industry insists have been fixed, but these kinds of filters will always create false positives.
One teacher wanted to show students some pictures that would illustrate the effects of atomic testing. "However when I went to bring the wikipedia page up at school during class, it was blocked by our internet filter, BESS. The name of the islands? 'Bikini Atoll,'" said Doug Johnson, quoting the teacher. Johnson, a director of media and technology at a Minnesota school district, put out a call in July for stories about how Internet filtering hobbles education, and got an earful. ("Censorship by Omission")
Johnson also shares a message from another teacher, describing how a school's systems security manager decided to block the social bookmarking site delicous.com. The reason? You can use the site to search for porn....
The problem goes back for years. A filter blocked the Web site of former House Majoirty Leader Richard Armey because it detected the word "dick," according to "Internet Filters, a public policy report," a 2001 study from the Brennan Center of Justice. Other software blocked the Declaration of Independence, Shakespeare’s complete plays, "Moby-Dick," and "Marijuana: Facts for Teens," a brochure published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The bigger problem, honestly, is that the filters then lead to complacency. Once the schools have filters in place, it gives officials a false sense that things are "safe." And yet, plenty of bad stuff gets through, while good stuff gets blocked. This isn't to say that filters have no use at all, but it's about time people learned not to rely on them so heavily.