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* Posts by dan

4 posts • joined 14 Oct 2008

Brit porn filter censors 13 years of net history

dan
Alert

ERM! Some very, very strange stuff going on here

I'm very, very confused:

I'm on Virgin, @ home.

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.adobe.com yields links that look like this:

http://web.archive.org/web/20030505070233/http://www.adobe.com/

So that's fine.

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.bbc.co.uk yields links that look like this:

http://iwfwebfilter.thus.net/web/20020527082555/http://bbc.co.uk/

THIS MAKES NO SENSE.

1) Why am I (a Virgin Media customer) getting the thus.net filter? I know that thus.net were involved with Cable & Wireless - is this the reason?

2) Why are only the wayback links for bbc.co.uk being affected?

Can anyone else on Virgin confirm if they can find any other sites in wayback that yield thus.net filtered links?!

Are we sure this is not something that's been done by archive.org? Sounds crazy, but this could be an attempt to draw attention to / frame the IWF.

Just to be clear - if someone can confirm that Virgin Media are indeed using the thus.net domain for filter sites I will be the first to cancel my service. If this is the case, they've breached the contract by not providing me the access I pay for.

So, someone help me to confirm exactly what's going on here.

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dan
Unhappy

Virgin Media Too - Again!

It was originally redirecting through a url that started webfilter.*.web.archive.org.* and throwing 404s.

It's now simply dropping the connection. No 404, nothing at all - just dropped.

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Why the IWF was right to ban a Wikipedia page

dan
Stop

What made _me_ angry

Consider and dissect the following assumptions:

1) People generally agree that exploitation of children is wrong. This applies to sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

2) People generally agree that not all content is appropriate. For example, people generally agree that books or websites that directly incite (for example) murder should be banned.

3) People generally believe that the reason we need to ban "bad" content is because it will encourage others to mimic the behavior.

4) Some people believe that those guilty of producing said content (or indeed guilty of the behavior without the added factor of recording it in some way) should be treated as being ill and should be offered treatment. Other people believe that they are criminals who make their decisions while in full control of their faculties - they should therefore be treated as such. Finally, some people believe that each case should be treated on an individual basis - for example, calling for a violent revolution against a (perceived) oppressive regime does not fall in the same category as distributing snuff films; similarly, distributing snuff films cannot be held in the same regard as producing horror movies with a sexual element.

All that being said, what made me angry was the process of censorship. The act of banning, without warning or explanation, of any content is the real danger. The BBFC (a body with as few legal powers as the IWF, but with as much commercial 'pull') at least provides an explanation of its decisions (e.g. what particular law was in danger of being breached). While it is arguably just as difficult to challenge those decisions, what is important is that the process is _somewhat_ more open (although it's very, very far from perfect). It would be trivial for ISPs to provide an information page every time a user hits a banned page. My fear is that without this information people will simply assume that the content doesn't exist - and that's when we get into the realm of the more extreme censorship that people have been SHOUTING about. It's not impossible to perceive how over time the lack of content will mean that knowledge of said content will pass completely out of our shared knowledge. Now that _is_ scary.

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Stob latest: It was a cunning trick, says Open University

dan
Thumb Down

OU Mistakes

I've just sat an OU exam, and I identified a mistake in one part of the question which rendered another part impossible to answer. I contacted the OU (via email) and much to my surprise was told that they were fully aware of the error, and would be marking that question accordingly. Which is good.

What's really BAD is that in an exam a question which IS impossible (as opposed to difficult) can really throw someone - not everyone is confident enough in that stressful environment to be certain that they (and not the experts that set the exam) are right.

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