Sunday, May 08, 2005

Political censorship via spam filtering

This disturbing link came up in my discussion lists this week. I always suspected that it was only a matter of time before the government would figure out how to corrupt the internet. They were slow in coming but they have arrived and here's the evidence.
After some frustrating email exchanges with the person in charge of my ISP, I had a face-to-face meeting with two of the very senior people in that unit.

They confirmed that not only Spam Manager and AOL, but other ISP spam filters world-wide, use the same black list, which is US-based. It also transpired that the whole drive for this had come from the US administration. (I understand that the US has applied pressure on all concerned to use that US-based black list.) This black list is fed into a program that automatically filters and defines as "spam" message containing blacklisted item.

Apparently, the black list consists of "offensive" email addresses, URLs (addresses of websites), words and phrases. Of course, most of these are really politically neutral and their presence on the black list quite legitimate, or at least acceptable. But the black list evidently also contains items whose presence there is politically motivated. The two senior people whom I met were unable to tell me what exact criteria are used for blacklisting: apparently this is a Great Commercial Secret, which is a sealed book even to them.

But they confirmed that it would be possible for some malicious person (or, more likely, group of persons), motivated by political hostility, to complain to their ISP that, say, some website contains "offensive" material, thereby causing the URL of this website to be blacklisted. Or -- even more disturbing -- Big Bushy Brother Himself can order an item to be blacklisted. Undoubtedly, this is used to stifle and muzzle "inconvenient" political discourse, mainly concerned with the violation of human rights and displaying disrespect to BBB.
Remembering the seizure of the Indymedia servers in England last year by US agents, I have no doubt the Pax Americans are meddling here and this is only the beginning. They've only just figured out how powerful a tool the internet is for "the people." They'll be working on other ways to thwart us.
Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home