Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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commercial censorship

Better than jackbooted thugs arresting me again, the self-titled "free-speech freaks" at SurfWatch Inc propose commercial censorship.
They hire college students to surf the net for sex sites, which are compiled into a giant list that sits deep in your computer. Each time your child surfs, the raunchy stuff is unattainable, unless they stole the password.

New sex sites pop up with alarming frequency. SurfWatch recomplies their lists monthly, so in order to be best protected, you must subscribe, provide ongoing revenue.

I looked at it as a helpful net nanny - someone who watches over kids as they travel around online, trying to keep them out of the bad neighborhoods.

I didn't think that would bother me, until I realized they block some of my fiction, as well as my sex pages.

They do not take steps to inform publishers of blocked pages. I guess they assume that if you are doing the naughty, you know it, and you don't care that millions of American youth might not read your raunchier writings.

There is no established mechanism for providers to find out if their content is blocked. Of course their list of banned material is secret, proprietary, cuz that's their product. It precludes third-party checking for political or cultural censorship, but I guess that's something you have to accept, if you want to keep other people's privates covered.

They have a 200 word list - an expanded Carlin, I guess, that screens URLs with "sex" "adult" or "xxx" in the title. So, if you are going to do some online sex education, better avoid that word.

I called them (415)948-9500, and spoke to Bill Duvall, who informed me which of my pages they had blocked. Most of them seemed fair, a few caught me off guard (see below).

A la Marty Rimm, they might someday make a killing selling off their list of sex sites to people who don't want at all to be protected. Heck, they could even sell little logos for proud prurient publishers to post at the top of their pages.

for the latest in salacious sites:

tune in channel surfwatch?

The most reasonable stink I've heard raised to date has been over blanket banning of gay sites. Homosexuality is more than just anal sex and vibrators, it is politics and culture, and Surfwatch caught a lot of heat for excluding that stuff as well.

It does seem dangerous that there is no public authority, you can't sue someone for censorship. If they have a political agenda, and the market supports it, they could quash minority voices.

On the other hand, if their product prevents me from being arrested for violating community decency standards in Podunk, Tenessee, they might have a good thing going.

I would rather see the internet engage in honest discussion of sexuality

The following Links from the Underground are off-limits to the Surfwatched:

blocked simply because of the URL - any URL with sex in the title, I was told, is blocked, as sex is on a 200 words to be blocked list.
Oh yeah, and I guess the content might be controversial as well.
Cuz some of these dealt with sex, all of 'em are blocked. I fixed this by moving all the pungeant entries to /dox/advice/lovesex.html
Again, one of my stories was raunchy, so all of them are blocked. Bummer. I've fixed it, moved The Courting of Miss Tate to it's own file, I hope they take my other works off blacklist.

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