Censorship through filtering and blocking already at work in 2003

Not everything about censorship by filtering and blocking is as it seems at first glance. There can be legitimate reasons why it is being done, but I fail to see why someone has to slander a website or blog, so as to get it filtered and blocked.

Help Combat an Attack on a Conservative Forum
Posted on Wednesday, August 6, 2003 10:58:55 AM by LiberalSlayer99

A few weeks ago I attempted to follow a link from here to www.hollywoodhalfwits.com. Much to my chagrin, the site was blocked with the following:

Forbidden You were denied access because: Access denied by WebWasher DynaBLocator content category. The requested URL belongs to the following category: Hate and Discrimination….

See the rest of the story

The explanation for the filtering and blocking in that case is in the first comment after the introductory complaint:

To: LiberalSlayer99

Sorry… as an IT guy you get no sympathy from me regarding access to websites from work. You’re killing my bandwidth!

There it is, the primary reason for the filtering and blocking encountered by the complainer was that “here” meant his place of work, and employers have every right to prevent their employees from using company-resources, -time and -money for their hobbies or private interests.  There is nothing to complain, and business interests will ensure that filtering and blocking at a place of employment will be employed a lot and for a long time to come.

It is very questionable, though, whether anyone has the right to take the easy way out by labelling websites and blogs hate-sites or anything else because they are not company-business-oriented.  There is no good excuse for doing that, especially if the excuse is being used to assign obnoxious and vexatious labels and slander only to, say, conservative and not to liberal websites and blogs.

From the information in the indicated discussion thread it is not possible to determine whether the filtering and blocking at that place of employment was discriminatory or not, but it is easy to see that there are good reasons for filtering and blocking to be done to protect business interests.  It is also very easy to see how the rating and assigning of slanderous and vexatious categories can be done by an individual in anonymity but nevertheless affect  a party or interest quite enormously, as the slanderous label that was so easily handed out can and will be shared by the makers and users of filtering and blocking software [and spread from there to 2.5 million users of that software].

The rules and reasons for filtering and blocking, as wrong or right as they are from anyone’s perspective at places of employment, have been in place for more than ten years.  They will not disappear any time soon; not in my lifetime.

Is it unreasonable to expect to see more amiable solutions for the problem and to make the rules and reasons for filtering and blocking work without resorting to obnoxious slander in the process?  For that to come about, there must be a formal, legal and just process in place for assigning such labels.  There must be a way by which to appeal, and the process must be just and fast.  We have not managed to produce such a thing for very serious offences.  It is extremely doubtful that we will be able to do it for matters of thought crimes, freedom of speech or freedom of expression.

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