The InfoSec Blog
13Mar/10

On the one hand …

On the one hand there this:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/10/new_york_isp_crackdown/

and on the other, when it comes down to practice, there's this

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/02/20/australian_adult_content_filter_failure/

Now please don't think I support p0rn.
But surely ...

One of the principles of good home economics is to pay down your most expensive (usually credit card) debts first. Surely there's an analogue here about applying censorial leverage where its most effective.

Sadly, the media, and hence the government and also the "do something about it now" pressure groups, are very good at making use of broad, overly inclusive labelling. It saves having to deal with fine issues, use discernment and judgement and making people actually stop and think about things rather than have an emotional reaction.

So where does pornography begin and end?

  • Does the Victoria's Secret catalogue count as pornography?
  • March Break Wet Tee-shirt contests?
  • Is it defined as "sexual abuse"? ("Well, I'm not into _THAT_ but some people find it OK" for various degrees of inhibitedness.)
  • Is it only pornography if it involves women and children?
  • Does it qualify as pornography if it doesn't involve degradation or abuse?

Different cultures value the old, women, children all in different ways.
In the west we think we are liberal and equitable but we still practice wholesale discrimination against women in ways that John Stuart Mill wrote about over 150 years ago. He advocated female suffrage in 1865; in most of the west it didn't come about until the 20th century and in some places not until after WW2.

I raise this as just one example of how things can be disproportionate, especially when they are a media issue. I'm sure you can think of other examples.

We've seen these last few decades how "The War on Drugs" and "The War on Terror" have taken an issue and made it into an industry whose base is broad and whose real focus is social monitoring and control. Some would say that the loss of rights and process that these have brought about compares with the repressive states our parents and grandparents fought against in the last century.

Thankfully we can still say that.

But where is this going to end? Does having a picture of my grandchild naked in the bath or my wife modelling flirtatiously in some daring lingere mean that my laptop will be confiscated when I enter the USA?
Can you guarantee it won't?

As the saying goes, 'There's no accounting for taste', and the government has no more rights in my bedroom, as Trudeau put it, than it has about what God I chose to worship. We've seen public 'values' over what is and is not considered 'obscene' shift over the years.  (Think of 'mixed bathing beaches;, Miniskirts, rap music, as a few obvousl examples.)   Overly broad labels are unfair and mind-control laws are inherently unjust.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Whitehouse

So how is this relevant to InfoSec?
Go back to those two references I started with.
Its one thing for a company to restrict access for employees, but another for this to to be applied at a national level (e.g. The Great Firewall of China). Not least of all as it proves ineffective and a
waste of public funds.

But politicians need to be seen to be doing something, and by using an overly broad label and an emotion hook they can get away with this kind of nonsense.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Posted by Anton Aylward

Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

No comments yet.


Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.