7 January 2010
Internet Filtering Apes Official Secrecy
I couldn't possibly say whether it gives any clue to what goes on there, but I'm sure you'll all be amused that my local (UK) public library Internet facility gives the following reason for denying access to this site:
ERROR: Access Denied by The Internet Filter. While trying to retrieve the URL:
The following error was encountered:
Access Denied: Criminal Activity
We are sorry for any inconvenience caused. Webpages may contain pornographic, racist, violent or unlawful material. However, this may not be the case. Some file types are also blocked in order to protect users of the network. Please check that you are not breaking this agreement, as your internet session may be cancelled. If you are trying to view or access unlawful material, sites or images, it may be reported to the police.
Thanks for the tip. We took a look at The Internet Filter. Downloaded its Library program and started to install to see the list of filtered sites. Ho, ho. The program contains a trojan discovered by our AV program. Stopped the installation.
The AV programs describes the trojan as a means for snooping on users and reporting results to the program user. Thus the library user may not know that the library is spying on its users, ahem, in order to protect them.
The website of The Internet Filter makes no bones about what its programs are up to and describes their ongoing battles with civil libertarians and freedom information acitivists. It claims to be meeting a demand for combating illegal and illicit uses of the Internet. Civil libertarians think this is nonsense, that the purpose of filtering is to prey upon the unwary by offering censorship far more widespread than the actual threat. In this, filtering compares to other threat mongerers who spread fear to market their service.
A rant against the national security racketeers will be omitted here as repetitious, except to note that commercial scoundrels copy these "lawful racketeers" for preying upon those who can't tell the difference between criminals and officials.
Thus Cryptome.org is termed criminal although nothing it does or material it offers is illegal -- in the US, that is -- but it does publish material that is illegal in other countries such as Great Britain, Japan, France, Russia, Italy, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, South America and Jupiter. Thanks to citizens of those locations for sending along what they want the public to see.
A plug for Cryptome to distinguish it from Wikileaks. It does not redact documents. We don't pretend to have that wisdom all too often presumed by those who don't have it either. Filtering of any kind is an abomination and merely empowers those who promote it. In other nefarious circles filtering is called secrecy.
Official secrecy is the very greatest threat to democracy. No matter the bellowing of practitioners that it is essential to save democracy. The worst kind of secrecy is that willingly done by citizens under the delustion that it is a necessary evil. Yes, that affected this list after 9/11 and has been eased somewhat but it looks as though the pendulum is swinging against openness.