Software designed to prevent access to rude or perverse content.

Some censoware products work by keeping a list of all websites containing such information and blocking them. Websense does this. It's a tough brief. Imagine trying to keep up to date with all the internet pr0n. (Maybe some of you don't have to imagine).

Another aproach is to remove or replace rude words from text, sometimes used to censor emails. This has hilarious results: discussions about the English seaside resort of Scunthorpe, or the county of Essex become difficult. The BBC used to do this to all emails going through its servers. It neatly converted this message:

"Matsushita held a cocktail party at their swanky new skyscraper in Scunthorpe on Saturday. I bumped into Dick Feltcher, whose haircut was a little shaggy. He'd accumulated quite a pile of buttered scones. The subject of blow-jobs never came up, however. What a chump"

"Matsua held a tail party at their sy new skyser in Shorpe on Saay. I ped into Dick Feltcher, whose haircut was a little gy. He'd aculated quite a pile of ered scones. The subject of blow-jobs never came up, however. What a p"

Censorware has just become a requirement in all public schools and libraries if they want to continue to receive federal funding for building a computer network as part of the new Congressional budget legislation. Besides the well-known reasons why this is a work of sheer insanity, there's also the fact that since mostly schools and other public institutions in poorer neighborhoods are using these funds, only the richer schools will be able to afford an uncensored internet connection (though few of even those schools are still around, no doubt. Filtering had become very popular). This can be interpreted, depending on how you look at it, as discrimination similar to what was found in Brown vs. Board of Education, though certainly not to the same magnitude. The reason that the government needs to legislate it in this way is that, technically, they're not supposed to have such incredibly broad powers over the conduct of individual districts and states. However, they can conviniently get around this by restricting funding, which gives them the equivilant power of never having the original Constitutional protections implemented at all. Sometimes this works out for the better, but in this case the power is being severely abused. Oh well, just one more freedom down the tubes, at least we're not like some other countries.

But it could happen, step by step, if things like this become a precedent.

Let us take the issue of government-mandated, computer-controlled, censorship (or "content filtering") point by point. Computer software which filters publications based on some criteria of suitability is called censorware.

  1. Computers cannot be offended, they are merely machines that follow instructions. Therefore, it's not the censorware computer program that is doing the filtering of offensive material.
  2. If it's not the censorware that does the filtering, then it must be the proponents or designers of the censorware, that choose what to hide from you. Further, organizations of people have biases in their philosophies; it is that fact which makes people organize. What political slant or prejudices are you entrusting with a filter? Do you want that organization to control what you can and cannot see?
  3. An organization forms defensive strategies to ensure it survives. The easiest way for a censor to remain a censor is to use that power to quash the publication of criticism. What criticism are you unable to see, because you trust your censorware products?
  4. Government-mandated filtering via a commercial product leads to making the private censorware company a de facto government bureaucracy. This is akin to forming a police force, a post office, a defense contractor, or any other service provided by a local or federal government. Think of the complexity of ensuring several million, if not billions, of websites are blocked or allowed according to government-mandated standards.
  5. If a government sets the standards for what to filter, then the government must offer the same transparency, due process, oversight controls and accountability that any taxpayer demands of their government services. If an 'appropriate' website is perhaps filtered unfairly, it must be accurately and responsibly reviewed and considered and the censorship stopped. If an 'inappropriate' website is not filtered, it must also be accurately and responsibly reviewed and considered and the filtering implemented. The world wide web, just accounting for http:-served static pages alone, changes millions of pages every day.
  6. Citizens demand that their government services should be run with high standards, high efficiency, lawful and just procedures, and all this at a minimum cost. How can these be reconciled against the sheer complexity of the task at hand? If you propose 'automation,' return to the first point above.
  7. The Constitution of the United States of America
    Amendment I
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The Censorware Metanode

If you have any new Censorware-related nodes (or know some that are missing), please /msg me and I'll add them.

How to get rid of them

Organizations and people

Cases of E2 being censored

Censorware products and methods


Content labelling

Image "recognition"

(Go here for laughs! =)


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