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davorg (18)

davorg
  dave@dave.org.uk
http://dave.org.uk/
Yahoo! ID: daveorguk (Add User, Send Message)

Hacker, author, trainer

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Journal of davorg (18)

Monday January 14, 2002
09:55 AM

Tasteless

[ #2110 ]

I've never been a big fan of web filtering proxies. You know, those bits of software that sit between you and the web that decide whether the site you're trying to visit contains material that will corrupt you. It makes be feel very uncomfortable handing those kinds of decisions over to a faceless group of moral bigots.

When I worked at Acxiom we lived behind a particularly nasty filtering proxy called WebSense. Like many similar products, WebSense works by putting web sites into certain categories. The database is then shipped out to clients who choose which categories are blocked at which times of the day. There are therefore two areas for moral censorship - WebSense when they categorise a site and the client's network admins when they decide which categories are to be blocked.

As an example of the second kind of idiocy - I tried to show someone the work that I'd done on Home Around The World" only to find that it was blocked as a "gay lifestyle" site. Now, the site is a flat swap agency for gay people, so the categorisation is probably accurate, but is there any possible reason to prevent people from viewing such sites. Other than the fact that the person choosing the categories is a homophobe?

But I digress. Today I got an email from a friend at Acxiom saying that my site was blocked. I checked on WebSense's handy web site lookup tool and sure enough. dave.org.uk is listed as "tasteless". Of course I'm biased, but I don't think it's tasteless at all. A bit political in places - but not tasteless.

I've emailed them to find out what the problem is and I'm really looking forward to their reply. I'd love to know what they find so tasteless - if only so I can do more of it :)

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