Archive for censorship

Error Code 451 To Highlight Censorship On The Web

Posted in Commentary with tags on December 23, 2015 by itnerd

For those of you who have been around the web for a very long time, you’re likely familiar with various error codes that a web browser could generate. One example is 404 which is what you get when you follow a broken or dead link.

You can now add error code 451 to that list which is meant to highlight web pages that have been blocked for legal reasons. In other words pages that are censored. The number comes from the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451 where a dystopian society burns books which effectively silences the population. But the code itself was the brainchild of Tim Bray, co-author of the XML specification. It was approved this week by the Internet Engineering Steering Group. However it is optional, so the impact may be limited for now. But it is a good first step towards transparency on the Web.

Apple Deleting iCloud E-Mails That Have The Phrase “Barely Legal Teens”

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 4, 2013 by itnerd

You have wonder who died and appointed Apple the rulers of the universe. I say that because the news is out that Apple is apparently deleting any e-mail in any iCloud account that has the phrase “Barely legal teens.” No warning. No stuffing in your junk mail folder. Nothing. Here’s how this was discovered:

A screenwriter was delivering a PDF attachment of a draft of his script to the project’s director, by emailing it from his iCloud/MobileMe account to Gmail. The problem? The script would never arrive, no matter how many times he would send it. But sending other PDF documents worked fine.

I figured, wow — is this some sort of spectacular failure of our screenwriting software (Movie Magic Screenwriter)? Our software had generated the PDF, so maybe we had accidentally generated information that was somehow matching the profile of a virus, or malware, causing the document to be rejected by Apple’s mail servers.

After obtaining a copy of the PDF (sent via Gmail to our Microsoft Exchange server), we confirmed the exact same behavior when we tried to send it to our own iCloud mailbox. The email never arrived, nor did we receive any return notification.

So there was more experimentation, and they found this:

AND THEN I SAW IT — a line in the script, describing a character viewing an advertisement for a pornographic site on his computer screen. Upon modifying this line, the entire document was delivered with no problem.

The line in the script? “Barely Legal Teens” was the term. This was confirmed by additional testing by InfoWorld.

Clearly Apple is scanning your documents on iCloud email and if it doesn’t like the content, it zaps it. Now I’ve written about Apple’s hate of porn before, but this is just obscene that they do this. Now this paragraph their terms of service implies that they can do this:

You acknowledge that Apple is not responsible or liable in any way for any Content provided by others and has no duty to pre-screen such Content. However, Apple reserves the right at all times to determine whether Content is appropriate and in compliance with this Agreement, and may pre-screen, move, refuse, modify and/or remove Content at any time, without prior notice and in its sole discretion, if such Content is found to be in violation of this Agreement or is otherwise objectionable.

Charming. Now the author of the InfoWorld story that I am asked Apple for a comment, but didn’t get one back and he doesn’t expect to. After all, Apple doesn’t like to comment on stuff like that because they don’t have the balls that’s just how they are. Too bad. I would love for them to explain why they’re doing this and why they think they have the right to do so.

Apple Censors Any Discussion Of Consumer Reports iPhone 4 Non-Recommendation

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on July 13, 2010 by itnerd

I guess that Consumer Reports bitch slap non-recommendation of the iPhone 4 has caused a reaction inside Apple HQ. Instead of owning up and fixing the problem, they are apparently censoring any discussion of it on their discussion boards according to TUAW.com:

If you were looking for a message thread on Apple’s support forums pointing to Consumer Reports’ article ‘not recommending’ the iPhone 4, it’s not there any more. Apple’s support forum moderators deleted the thread. Bing cached it.

If it happened once, maybe you’d say it was a glitch. But what if it happened twice? Three times? Four times, five, six?

Now to be fair, this is their discussion board and I suppose that they can do whatever they please, but the optics of this suck. Apple once claimed when they launched the original Macintosh that “1984 won’t be like 1984.” However in 2010, it seems like Steve Jobs is using George Orwell’s 1984 as his playbook for dealing with the iPhone 4 antenna issue.

Apple really has to get a clue here and just deal with the problems that they have rather than cover them up. Otherwise there won’t be much of a market for their shiny iDevices.

American Airlines To Install Porn Filters….. Focus On The Family Does Backflips Of Joy

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on October 17, 2008 by itnerd

After being the only airline that had the balls to not install porn filters on their in-flight Internet access, American Airlines folded up like cheap suits changed their minds and decided to install porn filters after all. Why you ask? Here’s their reasoning:

American said Tuesday it was working with technology provider Aircell to allow filtering of its nascent Internet service. American, the nation’s largest carrier, said it hasn’t gotten reports of passengers viewing “inappropriate content” on the Gogo in-flight service but said filtering was “an appropriate measure to take.”

Right. Sure. Whatever. Thanks for the spin.

I think the real reason is that the pressure that right wing zealots group Focus On The Family put on American Airlines was too much for them to bear. But that would just be speculation of course. Even if they are the sole reason behind this, you can be sure that they were a factor in American Airlines decision making process.

Apple Deleting Discussions Where Users Complain About Missing Firewire Ports On New Macbooks… WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags , on October 15, 2008 by itnerd

The new Macbooks that were announced yesterday have one serious omission. No firewire ports. I have commented on this myself, and apparently so have others. But apparently if you go to Apple’s discussion boards, any discussion of the lack of firewire in the Macbooks is being deleted. I’ve heard of reports of ths for years now. In fact if you check here, here, and here, you’ll see some examples of this. And to be honest, since it’s their board, they can do whatever they want. However, the optics of this just suck as they’re clearly doing more than keeping the discussions on topic and eliminating things like swearing and other types of bad behavior. It honestly looks like Apple is trying to create an aura where the only voices that you hear are the rabid base of fanbois that love anything that Apple does.

In my mind, this is bordering on censorship and I find it distasteful. But perhaps I’m over reacting here. What do you think? Post a comment and share your thoughts.

Oh by the way, If you really need to have firewire on your Macbook, the white Macbook is still available and it comes with firewire. So that’s an option. Or you can buy yourself a MacBook Pro, which is something that would make Apple really happy.

Delta Decides To Censor The Friendly Skies By Filtering Porn

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on October 3, 2008 by itnerd

Delta Airlines has joined the list of airlines that will have in flight Internet access. However, they have announced that they will censor the Internet access so that you can’t surf for porn:

“Blocking will be limited in scope and will be for sites that few, if any, would question are inappropriate to be viewed on an aircraft,” Delta spokesman Kent Landers said Thursday. “Our focus is to achieve a balanced approach.”

Good luck with that, because I expect a civil rights group or the EFF to be filing a lawsuit shortly. I seriously doubt that you can do something like this without someone suing you.

No Porn Surfing For You On Qantas!

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 17, 2008 by itnerd

So, you’re on Qantas and you want to surf for porn (for whatever reason) during your flight. Can you?

Nope. Apparently, Qantas has nixed plans to offer live Internet access on its flights. They will instead offer “cached Internet content” (whatever that means):

A Qantas spokeswoman said the internet plans had been paired back due to “logistical and regulatory issues” encountered by its connectivity provider, OnAir. The airline said the full internet service was now scheduled to be available “later in 2009”.

It would not elaborate on the issues and OnAir did not respond to requests for comment.

Clearly Qantas doesn’t think that their passengers can properly behave on their flights. But if enough passengers take their flying dollars elsewhere, that opinion may change.

American Airline Attendants Want Porn Filters….Good Luck With That

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 13, 2008 by itnerd

Get this. Flight attendants on American Airlines flights want the airline to install filters to stop travellers from surfing for sumt while flying:

“Attendants and passengers raised “a lot of complaints,” and leaders of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants broached the issue with management, without making a formal request for filters, union spokesman David Roscow said today in an interview. He didn’t give specifics about any objections.”

Here’s the problem that I have with this. Filters don’t work. Not only do they block useful sites by accident, but they are often easily circumvented. Besides, there’s nothing stopping somebody from popping a porno into the DVD drive in their laptop and watching that. Or watching porno via a MPEG or AVI file for that matter. To my knowledge, I’ve never heard of that happening. That would imply that travellers don’t watch porn on flights. Which means it’s a non-issue in my mind.

Air Canada To Get In Flight WiFi… Are They The Next Target Of Focus On The Family?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on September 10, 2008 by itnerd

Aircell who supplies American Airlines with their inflight Wi Fi has inked a deal with Air Canada to supply them with in flight WiFi:

“The Gogo system on Air Canada’s trans-border routes will be available first in the U.S. and powered by Aircell’s existing U.S. network, making Air Canada’s initial rollout fast, economical and simple. Air Canada and Aircell expect that the Gogo service will eventually provide passengers with seamless coverage from key Air Canada cities such as Montreal and Toronto to every Air Canada market in the continental U.S. Additionally, Aircell looks forward to the licensing and roll out of a Canadian Air-to-Ground network that will facilitate Air Canada’s future fleet-wide deployment.”

Since it’s the same provider as American Airlines, one could assume that there’s going to be no porn filters on Air Canada flights either. There’s nothing in the press release that indicates if that is that is the case or not. The question is if there are no porn filters present, will that draw the ire of the Canadian wing of Focus On The Family? You’ll recall that their American counterparts went loco when they found out that porn was not going to be filtered on American Airlines. So don’t be shocked if the Canadian arm does the same thing. You can expect me to post my thoughts on that as well.

Religious Group Urges People To Complain About Unfiltered Net Access On Planes….WTF?

Posted in Commentary with tags , , , on August 29, 2008 by itnerd

From the “are you kidding me” file comes this story. American religious group Focus On The Family has put up this post urging people to bully encourage American Airlines to install filters for their on-board Internet access so that you can’t surf for porn while you fly:

An American Airlines spokesman said flight attendants will be trained to handle the situation if a passenger is viewing porn.

Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality at Focus on the Family Action, called the decision another example of pornography running amok.

“Because this nation has not been serious about vigorously attacking pornography, some believe it is appropriate to view in public,” he said. “Not only will the flight attendants be placed in a situation that could be considered sexual harassment, passengers who openly view porn where children can see it may be violating federal harmful-to-minor laws.”

Here’s a news flash dude: Nobody is that dumb!

Most individuals know how to behave in public. Those who don’t will get smacked around and they would totally deserve it. We don’t need filters (that don’t actually work properly and often filter out useful content) to do this for us. Besides, who appointed you the guardians of our moral standards?

Fortunately American Airlines isn’t as stupid as they are has seen the light and as noted above they will leave it to flight attendants to deal with any situation that arises (one would think that if an Air Marshall is on board, s/he would get involved as well). That’s the way it should be in a country like America.

Besides, if you want to live in a country that has filtered Internet access that keeps porn out, I hear China has a system for that which works well enough. Perhaps you guys should set up shop there. I’m sure you’d be happy living in that sort of environment.