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.

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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.