Schools and libraries, which after a long struggle are now usually mandated to install filters, find that the judgement of librarians is replaced by that of software companies. The catalog of what is on the Internet is too large, the software is too opaque, and the perceived risk of overriding its decisions are so great that most libraries have essentially been replaced by companies like NetNanny.
This week we got two examples of what the real agenda is in filtering.
- Secure Computing filtered Boingboing, perhaps the world’s most popular blog, from most of the Fortune 500 and refused to back down. As The New York Times noted, the company offered a bunch of arbitrary, nonsensical excuses for its action. Boingboing pubished a work-around for users, but it’s kludgy.
- The military has begun routinely censoring soldiers’ Internet access, preventing them from reading the words of war critics while letting them see the words of war boosters. Ironically one of the sites covering this controversy most closely is Boingboing.
There are always popular excuses to limit what other people read, see
and do. Child porn. Porn. Terrorism. Gambling. But these are, in the
end, just excuses.
Because there is a great software filter available to everyone. It is
called your mind. And when people or computers replace software or
their minds for your mind, that is called oppression.