Censorship Update 12/18/2007

by 1389 on December 19, 2007

in 1389 (blog admin), blog censorship, blogging, censorship, censorware

Websense Blocking Gates of Vienna?

We just received this email from a reader:

Name Smarty
Subject websense and gov
Message Websense is blocking GOV under “social networking and personal sites.” I am at work and got blocked.

Censorware site classifications and company policies

Websense is a vendor of content-filtering a/k/a censorware services. Smarty’s workplace evidently uses Websense to block access to various categories of sites, including sites that Websense has categorized as “social networking and personal sites.”

One could reasonably argue that this classification is incorrect, in that Gates of Vienna is not actually a social networking site like, for example, Myspace or Facebook. GoV is a political news and opinion site focused on counterterrorism and foreign affairs. It carefully screens out anything potentially offensive, such as objectionable photos or vocabulary.

What to do?

If Smarty wants to be able to access GoV from work, here are the possibilities:

  • Find out what types of sites are allowed at work, and contact Websense to try to get GoV reclassified into a category that would be acceptable. There are two disadvantages here. Getting the censorware company to make this change may be difficult. Even if the censorware company is willing to recategorize GoV, the new category may be acceptable in some workplaces or venues, but not in others.
  • Contact the network admin who person who administers the censorware for this workplace, and ask him or her to “whitelist” GoV – in other words, to allow that specific site to be accessed without regard to its Websense classification.
  • Get a cellphone with web access, and a service plan that allows unlimited browsing, and use it to access GoV and other sites from any place where cellphone service is available. The disadvantage here is that cellphone access tends to be slower, the screen is much smaller, and browsing features are more limited.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Foehammer December 20, 2007 at 10:42 am

These filtering companies are the modern incarnation of Big Brother.

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