Sex, censorship and the Net

There's a war going on between wannabe Web cops and those who like their Net unregulated. Is Internet censorship inevitable? Cringely exposes his thoughts.

I don't know what it is -- the holidays, the waning days of the Bush Administration, or just something in the air -- but the war over sex on the Net has reached a new and disturbing level.

To recap:

Last week, Ning gave the heave-ho its XXX-rated social networks, giving them 'til New Years Eve to pack up their toys and find a new home. YouTube tightened its chastity belt, pushing naughty if not exactly XXX-rated videos to the bottom of its slush pile.

A conservative Christian investment group issued a list of the most immoral video games, though the group's ratings seem to hinge as much on the games' endorsement of "alternate lifestyles" (i.e., pro-gay) as the degree of murder and mayhem inside them.

The Australian Supreme Court just declared Bart and Lisa Simpson "real" people in the eyes of the law, upholding the conviction of a man who had lewd images of the underage cartoon characters doing the nasty on his hard drive. (Thus giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "the land down under.")

And for the first time in its existence, Wikipedia was briefly blocked for refusing to remove allegedly pedophilic images from its encyclopedia.

The last case is the thorniest, largely because the image in question -- which appears on the cover of The Scorpions' 1976 opus, "Virgin Killer" -- really is something that could get you arrested if found, say, on your laptop as you passed through US Customs.

A UK group called the Internet Watch Foundation received a complaint about the "Virgin Killer" wiki entry and added that page to its anti-child-porn blacklist, used by the vast majority of British ISPs. That caused large swaths of Wikipedia to be inaccessible across the pond; the IWF's blacklist also blocked access to parts of Flickr and, yes, Ning (though apparently not the dirty bits).

Wikimedia Foundation, parent organization for Wikipedia, refused to remove the controversial image because no legal authority had ordered them to, the image had been in the public eye for more than 40 years, and was available elsewhere on sites like Amazon.

The IWF eventually backed down. The group's well-meaning but poorly thought-out blacklist probably ended up driving far more traffic to that photo than if it had simply done nothing. So score one for the fans of unfettered free speech.

Tags censorshipinternet privacy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert X. Cringely

InfoWorld

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?