Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Keep It Legal To Embarrass Big Companies

jamie posted more than 14 years ago | from the safe-legal-and-rare dept.

Censorship 148

Maybe Peacefire's timing is bad. Two courts have recently said that the reverse-engineered DeCSS program is illegal to publish in the United States, and UCITA gets closer every second. Yet Peacefire today released a program that reverse-engineers the encryption on a list of sites blocked by a major censorware product. Maybe T-shirts that say 'X-Stop has a 68% error rate for blocking student homepages' will get classified as munitions next. Bennett Haselton shares his thoughts (below) on corporate crypto.

Bennett Haselton is the founder and head of Peacefire, an activist group to support the free-speech rights of young people. He suggests that you might want to download the X-Stop "smoking gun" evidence (4MB) before the company has a chance to remove it from their server.

The feature below was written by Mr.Haselton.

X-Stop is an Internet censoring program with an encrypted database of 370,000 URL's blocked under various categories: Sex, Drugs, Rock `n' Roll, etc. Their competitors like SurfWatch and Cyber Patrol also do not publish their blocked site lists; the officially given reason is to keep kids from using the lists to find smut on the Internet. This is silly, given how easy it is to find Internet porn without the aid of X-Stop's secret database (although if you still want to, you can download our codebreaker, follow the instructions to get the X-Stop list and decrypt it, and help yourself). But for the next part of our report, after we decoded the URL list, we looked at the first 50 URL's in the .edu domain that were still valid, and found that 34 of them were regular student home pages with nothing offensive (hence the "68% error rate" t-shirt slogan). None of those 34 students who responded to our e-mails could think of why X-Stop would want to block their pages.

X-Stop admits on their Web site that their database is put together by a Web spider called "Mudcrawler" and not by human reviewers, but even for a machine, a 68% error rate is pretty bad. And even though the real reason why these lists are encrypted is obviously to keep competitors from stealing them, this also makes it much harder for third parties to find out what the programs really block. In fact, X-Stop had once claimed that every URL on their list was reviewed by a human before getting blocked, but cyber lawyer Jonathan Wallace called them on it when he published "The X-Stop Files" in 1997, asking why X-Stop blocked several sites like the Quakers home page, the AIDS Quilt, and parts of Jonathan's own e-zine, The Ethical Spectacle. Peacefire also put up a page in 1998 about sites blocked by X-Stop, including an affirmative action site and a blind children's hospital. But these examples were all found through trial and error; today is the first day that the entire list of URL's has been made public. And to determine the 68% figure, it was necessary to have a copy of the entire list, so that the first 50 blocked sites could be used as a random sample.

So far, this is more or less the same story that took place in 1997 with another blocking program, CYBERsitter, right down to Jonathan Wallace posting a page about CYBERsitter and getting his site blocked. First, several people posted articles criticizing CYBERsitter's policies, and slowly CYBERsitter's public image deteriorated as word got out that they were blocking sites which criticized their company (even Time magazine got blocked, and then posted an article about how they found themselves on CYBERsitter's list). Then in April 1997, Peacefire released a program that broke the encryption on CYBERsitter's list of blocked URL's. CYBERsitter sent Peacefire a threatening letter demanding that we take down the program and remove all of our links to CYBERsitter's Web page. Jim Tyre, a volunteer lawyer and future founding member of the Censorware Project, sent CYBERsitter a reply telling them they had no case, and we never heard from them again. But UCITA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and the two court injunctions against the right to post DeCSS, didn't exist in 1997. If we had released the CYBERsitter codebreaker today, would CYBERsitter actually file a lawsuit?

The outcome of the DeCSS court cases could, in fact, determine the rights of a private citizen to embarrass a big software company by reverse engineering their products and catching them in a lie. It's easy to forget the importance of legal protection for reverse engineering, because sometimes public opinion is enough: RealNetworks never sued Richard Smith when he revealed that copies of RealPlayer included a "globally unique identifier" to track user's listening habits, and Microsoft never sued Andrew Schulman when he discovered that Windows 3.1 threw up fake error messages about DR-DOS. These were large companies that would have been crucified if they had tried to sue someone for discovering something that the public thought they had a right to know anyway. But legal protections are still important, because sometimes public opinion isn't enough - when the software company doesn't have much of an online reputation to worry about, or when then they have a reputation but they don't care about it.

The RIAA, with their campaigns against MP3 technology and reverse-engineering SDMI, is an example of an organization that doesn't care about their online image - and why should they, since we all download our music for free anyway. CYBERsitter is another good example - they do care about their reputation, but in 1997 their image was that of a children's guardian angel and an ally in fighting government censorship, almost immune to criticism. It took an enormous amount of bad press - letters from CYBERsitter's CEO threatening ISP's and flaming people in general, and at one point actually mail-bombing a lady who sent them a complaint - before even advocates of blocking software started distancing themselves from the company. Even today, CYBERsitter's public image is fairly rosy, and their campaigns of legal harassment hardly affected their reputation at all. (What had you heard about CYBERsitter before you read this article?) It's hard to imagine Microsoft, for example, filing a similar lawsuit without embarrassing themselves and turning their intended target into a martyr. The real threat to "reverse engineering for the public good" is from medium-sized companies, small enough that not everything they do will get in the news, but still big enough to afford lots of lawyers.

This threat affects not just programmers, but even journalists who get anonymous tip-offs - like Brock Meeks and Declan McCullagh, who were threatened with an FBI investigation by CYBERsitter in 1996, after they published their "Keys to the Kingdom" article about sites that CYBERsitter and other "censorware" programs blocked. The part of the article that got them in so much trouble was this excerpt from CYBERsitter's bad- word file:

[,suck,lick][the,his,her,your,my][cock,dong,dick,penis,hard on...]

If this now counts as a "trade secret" under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, then our list of the 50 .edu sites blocked by X-Stop - and the study that found the 68% error rate - could be declared illegal. And under UCITA, CYBERsitter could even claim the enforceability of these excerpts from their license agreement:

Reverse Engineering Prohibited
Unauthorized reverse engineering of the Software, whether for edcucational, fair use, or other reason is expressly forbidden. For the purposes of this license the term "reverse engineering" shall apply to any and all information obtained by such methods as decompiling, decrypting, trial and error, or activity logging.

Unauthorized disclosure of CYBERsitter operational details, hacks, work around methods, blocked sites, and blocked words or phrases are expressly prohibited.

So any CYBERsitter user who even discusses what the program blocks, would be in violation. Not that CYBERsitter would enforce this against everybody, but they probably would have liked to enforce it against Brock and Declan.

At this point, we don't know how X-Stop will respond to our report. But we do know that for all of their bluster, CYBERsitter never actually sued Brock, Declan or Peacefire. Given that CYBERsitter pursued the matter for months (and the fact that Brock and Declan had actual money), if CYBERsitter gave up, it's because they had no case. If the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, UCITA, or the DVD court rulings change that situation, then it will become much harder to criticize blocking software - or any kind of software - except for the user interface and other things that users can "see" without looking under the hood.

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered


Like I've said before... (4)

jd (1658) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254089)

Keyword censoring doesn't work. For the same reason Echelon can't work by keywords, there are just going to be far too many false positives and far too many false negatives.

(Those with keywords on the brain have a rare, but fortunately treatable, disease called Greperitus. The cure for this is to hit yourself over the head with a salami sandwich, repeating "Grep is not all-powerful. Grep does not out-rank The Great Linus.")

Nor does it make any sense to filter everything for every user of the software. What is wanted, IMHO, is an ability to selectively control what is filtered and what isn't, maybe by nature, relying on volunteer-maintained databases and/or filters of what fits into the category you don't want. (Sort of like a super-Junkbusters, but not restricted to just banner ads.)

I e-mailed a couple of organisations involved in promoting filter software, to see why they promoted such packages. I did NOT get the usually claimed line of "it's for the children". What I DID get was "if you go into a bicycle shop, you expect to see bicycles. Why should public Internet terminals be any different?" Now, -that- is a line of argument I can have some sympathy for, which is why I think self-selective censorship makes much more sense than blanket, keyword stuff.

To make sure this is on-topic, I can't say I sympathise with companies that provide encrypted dictionaries with network software. If they didn't want you to have access to the dictionary, they could just as easily have the filter software connect to a database at THEIR end. Ergo, they are not -really- serious about not letting you access their dictionaries. Ergo, reverse-engineering is being implicitly permitted, because they are not taking obvious, simple measures to prevent it.

Embarassing such companies, IMHO, is a good idea. Force them to declare where they stand, and make them act on their beliefs. The more these companies are forced to actually -occupy- the moral high ground, rather than merely claim it, the better. Anyone can claim anything, but morality cannot co-exist with dictatorship. The sooner these companies are made to be moral, the sooner they will stop trying to be thought-police.

Cacheflow! (2)

EyesOfNostradamus (75825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254090)

Just use one of the numerous open "Cacheflow" Web proxies, which are scattered all over the 'net. Instant "distributed" discovery.

Re:Future? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254091)

Oh, I suspect that they "get it". The question really is: Do they *care*? On many an issue -- particularly the more controversial ones, like abortion and gun-control -- many legislators KNOW the arguments, they just don't CARE because they have their own agenda. Legislators often aren't in power to serve YOU; they're out to serve THEMSELVES. If that means pandering to a minority that votes fervently compared to being just to a majority that doesn't, fine. If this means obstructing justice and violating the Constitution, then fine -- as long as they think they can get away with it; because they probably _will_. They *do* understand fear, 'tho.

Re:Maybe sell smut files? (2)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254102)


Cyber Patrol is a strictly opt-in deal. Parents get it to "protect" their children from filth and smut. Employers get it to "protect" their employees from distractions. Those are both definetly within their rights - they supply the computer for a certain set of tasks (homework, games, research (games doesn't apply to employers :)) and have a right to "know" that their resources aren't being squandered away.

IF you take objection to libraries and other public resources using internet filters, take it up with them, your local government or your state rep. Don't sabotage their property because you don't like the way some of their clients use it.

Re:blocking software (1)

um... Lucas (13147) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254103)

Nope... When you work for a company, you're generally allowed use of a computer to satisfy the tasks needed to do your work. An employer is fully within their rights by blocking sites from employee access.

Same goes for parents and kids. Kids aren't "real" people until they're 18. They aren't afforded the same rights as adults (and that's a good thing, in terms of things like penalties for crimes and such).

The only way it would be a violation of free speech is if the government mandated that every ISP have such and such installed and to disallow eeryone from accessing a certain black list of sites.

UCITA Circumvention (2)

tilleyrw (56427) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254104)

Suppose UCITA is passed in all 50 states as a worst-case scenario. Reverse-engineering is illegal.

Save your work on a foreign server. If they try to say you worked on it here, disclose that the server where the work exists is located in Holland. They will say "you were located here while you typed it."

"No, I called my friend in Holland and repeated my program verbatim to him and HE typed it in."

Soon, you will be seeing laws passed that say "Intellectual property cannot be exported" (ala crypto) and the security guards doing mind-scans in the airport for any programming knowledge.

You can expand this via paranoia to any length. IANAL.

Way too hopeful (1)

jflynn (61543) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254105)

Some major assumptions there. First let me disclaim that I do believe in honest hard working politicians. Can't name one offhand, but I believe they exist, they just aren't the ones chasing the media and presidency.

For most politicians though, the question isn't what makes sense, what is practical, or even what is right, it's "what will get me (re-)elected?" Freeer distribution of pornography is not an issue they would like to, or even could, take on in America. No matter how you well you wrap your opposition to censorware in the first amendment a large quantity of prigs and prudes in this country will not vote for such a politician. Ironically I think this is often because they must deny their own attraction to pornography, but that is another subject...

Then there is a small set of politicians that fully realize that a populace that thinks about issues and is well-informed is not good for their little games with pork, and their power brokering. These critters would like nothing better than a controlled media that didn't criticize the government, and a repealed 1st amendment would garner only crocodile tears, if that.

Finally, there is the constituency of our government, the mega corporations. These guys simply aren't going to care until you show them a bottom line effect. Unfortunately, what they see is that unless the smut is cleaned off the net they stand to lose billions in potential revenue from those that stay away or are kept away by restrictions on net usage. Look what happened with TV, we all have to view children's fare so that no potential product buyers will be offended. Advertising money looks to drive the net too.

Its a good fight, I believe it matters greatly. Pornography is being used as a wedge against the 1st amendment in the same way that pedophiles and terrorists are used to keep crypto restricted. But I do not see any organized body of people or interest group with the sway to win the fight. Kudos to the ACLU but they are more reviled than respected today, unfortunately. I see a *lot* of very organized opposition. Depressing. Only by educating at the grass roots is there any chance, and that's a long one.

Can't these utilities protect themselves? (3)

hobbit (5915) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254106)

Wouldn't it be possible to write a self-extracting encryption wrapper around DeCSS and its ilk, which presented the user with a choice:

1) continue, and forfeit any right to pursue the hosting site;

or 2) exit, without evidence that the program contravenes the DMCA;

leaving only the option of reverse-engineering the access control mechanism itself to prove anything?


Re:The Internet and Democracy (1)

Artie FM (87445) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254107)

This does seem off topic

Wpoliticians collecting more and more money over the internet you'd think they would pass more clueful laws about it.
Be insightful. If you can't be insightful, be informative.
If you can't be informative, use my name

Re:That post is completely off topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254108)

Sure, it's "informative" but what does it have to do with censorware...

Satire impaired (1)

Mozo (22007) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254109)

I note that Cybersitter deprives users of one of the main pillars of online journalism: The Onion.

[you][are][,a,an,too,to][stupid,dumb,ugly,fat,id iot,ass,fag,dolt,dummy]

...matches the official Onion motto, which not a little bit of irony relating to Cybersitter's error rate:

You are dumb.

Cybersitter: saving the world from the dolts of the net. (tm)

Easy Solution (1)

Rares Marian (83629) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254110)

Open UP a Unix shop in a mall. Hire young people 15+ yrs of age. Offer scholarships. Hype up the productive day-cre environment. (Even if it isn't true, as long as they're learning.) And sponsor gender-neutral science fairs. Oh yeah stalk the bullshit boys and girls clubs and hire kids from them to so they can really get ahead.

not a random sample (1)

jlv (5619) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254111)

But these examples were all found through trial and error; today is the first day that the entire list of URL's has been made public. And to determine the 68% figure, it was necessary to have a copy of the entire list, so that the first 50 blocked sites could be used as a random sample.
Given that the entire list has been decoded, you could have really produced a valid statistic by taking an actual random sample of 50 working .edu sites from the whole list. Merely using the first 50 is not a random sample.

Rights (3)

tal (20116) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254114)

Don't worry, they won't take away all our rights at once. They'll just take little bits at a time
until you don't have the right to complain that they have taken away your rights.

Future? (1)

leko (69933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254117)

I have in the back of my mind, that one day all the politicians will just "get" this and that all these problems will be no more. Am I being too hopeful? It seems to me its just about education on the issues, and understanding the mindset of people like us.


Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254119)

silkyhog sucks

The Internet and Democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254120)

The Internet and Democracy

Nearly 70 years ago, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the first president to take advantage of the radio to connect directly and instantly with millions of American citizens across the country.

In the 1960s, John F. Kennedy was the first president to effectively employ the power of television as a visual communications medium.

Today, candidates and elected officials of every political persuasion are tapping the power of the Internet to interact with citizens in ways that one day may rival the impact of radio and television combined.

  • In 1999, Steve Forbes became the first presidential candidate to announce his bid for office over the Internet.
  • Since last April, more than 200,000 questions and comments have been submitted to Vice President Al Gore's "Interactive Town Hall," a location on his campaign's Web site, where he and his staff provide answers on a variety of subjects.
  • In the 48 hours after winning the New Hampshire GOP primary earlier this month, Senator John McCain raised more than $1 million in contributions over the Internet.
  • George W. Bush was the first presidential candidate to publish a complete list of his campaign contributors online.
  • Bill Bradley, like many other candidates, has used the Web to detail his political agenda and substantive policy announcements.
  • Jesse Ventura organized a long shot and ultimately successful independent bid for the Minnesota statehouse in 1998, with a campaign that demonstrated the grass- roots power and fundraising capabilities of the Net.

But it's not only candidates who are taking advantage of the power of the Web to reach out to citizens. In January, the President's State of the Union Address and the Republican response were the first to be broadcast live over Microsoft's Web TV, enabling thousands of viewers to learn more about Administration and GOP policies and initiatives instantly, simply by clicking on an Internet link.

Meanwhile, public agencies are making access to government resources more convenient. Today, in certain jurisdictions, you can download an application for a business license, search for a government job, track the status of a building permit, or file a tax return, all online.

Increasingly, the Internet also is being used as a vehicle for citizens to organize and express their views. When the City of Seattle recently considered a controversial ordinance to prohibit the display of exotic animals in circus performances, thousands of e-mails flew back and forth between voters and their elected officials.

Parents are using the Internet to organize Web sites where information about school meetings can be posted, and where vibrant forums exist to bat around ideas regarding new academic programs, school test results and grading standards.

Meanwhile, political Web "portals" like those hosted by USAdemocracy.com, vote-smart.org, Issues2000.org, grassroots.com, MSN.com and others are providing interested citizens with up-to-the-minute information that is fundamentally changing the way citizens learn about and get involved in important issues.

Technologies are emerging on Web sites like selectsmart.com that match a voter's views on issues with the positions of candidates. This kind of "comparison shopping" will empower voters by allowing them to obtain substantive and current information about candidates' positions, and to make informed decisions at election time.

In the near future, the Internet may also serve as a medium for voter registration and online voting. Several test projects to facilitate online voting are in progress. Ensuring equitable access, security, privacy and reliability are concerns that will need to be addressed before voters are able to cast their ballots from the convenience of their home or a nearby public facility.

The neighborhood polling booth won't go away, but with voter participation at historic lows - particularly among young people - online voting offers the potential to encourage easier and greater involvement in our electoral process.

At Microsoft, we're enthusiastic about the Internet for many reasons, not the least of which is the promise it holds to create a more informed electorate and to encourage the participation of more people - especially young people - in our democratic process.

This is one in a series of essays on technology and its impact on society. More information is available at www.microsoft.com [microsoft.com].

Additonal Readings

thank you.

Re:Rights (2)

pegiron (149344) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254121)

Well, perhaps it's time to get rid of the division between "They" and "We"... This sort of thing is ridiculous, and we've definately _GOT_ to do something about it.

Maybe sell smut files? (5)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254122)

When I was at MSI (the original developer of Cyber Patrol), we talked (more like joked) about selling the CyberNot list as a seperate product. This would be for users who wanted an easy way to find porn.

Of course, it did not get far beyond the joking stage. I do suspect that a few people at the company kept copies of the porn lists for their own use. ;). And no, I was not one of them.

It's a little hard for a company to keep a straight face when selling a list of porn site (or publishing porn themselfs) and selling an internet filter or blocker. It's along the line of a virus protection software company also selling a virus writing kit.

CyberPatrol does have a page to check their list [cyberpatrol.com] to see if a site is on it. It does not do much good for seeing how good their list is, but at least you can check if your own site is on it.

User-agent "Mudcrawler" (3)

httptech (5553) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254123)

So, if I were a porn site operator, all I'd need to do is disallow access to User-agent: "Mudcrawler" and then kids can surf my site freely.

Do you get the feeling that even the programmers know that their software is pretty much useless?

Try this. (2)

Woodblock (22276) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254124)

I use this site [mit.edu] to get around my school's CyberPatrol proxy. Get to it quick as it will probably be blocked soon, along with the rest of MIT.

Re:Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254125)

The chains of slavery are forged one link at a time.

Re:Future? (1)

jagapen (11417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254126)

Oh yeah, one day they'll `get' it and these problems will be no more. But it's gonna get a whole hell of a lot worse before then....

Lots of companies do this. (2)

Giordana (87510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254127)

Remember when Consumer Reports rated a small SUV by Mitsubishi or Suzuki "unacceptable" because it tended to roll over in hard turns (the kind you would make trying to avoid a child or a deer)? The magazine is being sued for slander. The January issue has more details (it's on the web, for a fee).

PR Watch [prwatch.org] has an eye-opening series of articles about SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suits. Companies file them to bankrupt, and effectively silence, people who speak out against them (which is not the same as libel or slander). Oprah Winfrey was SLAPPed by the National Beef Council when she disparaged beef during the Mad Cow outbreak in Britain. An environmentalist in West Virginia was SLAPPEd by a coal mining company when he highlighted environmental abuses by the company.

Free Speech is becoming very expensive.

Re:User-agent "Mudcrawler" (5)

arivanov (12034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254128)

That is not enough, but the checklist to make sure that your site never hits the morons checklist is:
  • Start with a fresh new domain
  • Make sure your robots.txt file says not to scan the entire site. Quite a lot of them ignore the file so this is not enough.
  • Disable any unknown user agents. If your site is 100% PHP or PERL it is an elementary function in the beginning of the script.
  • Rewrite all texts replacing a dictionary of smut-words (the posted ones are a good example as their quoted or escaped equivalents. The smut checkers are where virus checkers were 10 years ago. They do only elementary pattern matching. This will also help against stream scanning sofwtare.
  • Keep an eye on your logs. If you see that someone is crawling check who they are. Firewall or ban the IP range if necessary.
  • Firewall all IP ranges belonging to known anti-smut software vendors.

Have fun if you have brains. If you do not you shall be filtered. Resistance is futile. Isn't technology wonderful?

Almost forgot - the described technologies do not consititute reverse engineering and as such do not fall under the provisions of the UCITA and the DMCA.

So this is how we must do... (4)

guran (98325) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254129)

On every page critical to a software company, put the words "By reading this text you agree not to take any legal action against the author or publisher"

On a web site hosting, for example, deCSS. Put the words "Any similarity between this program and any commercial products is purely coincidental. Reverse enginering of this program, wether by looking at the source or observing the operations of the program, for the sole purpose of finding such similarities is not permitted"

Let the system fight itself!

Re:User-agent "Mudcrawler" (1)

stile (54877) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254130)

So, if I were a porn site operator, all I'd need to do is disallow access to User-agent: "Mudcrawler" and then kids can surf my site freely.
Do you get the feeling that even the programmers know that their software is pretty much useless?
My guess would be that if Mudcrawler couldn't access your page, it would be assumed to be smut and blocked.

maybe these people could block katz... (0)

hemos. (151256) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254131)

since the slashdot preference filter doesn't effectively block katz, maybe a third party developer could write a program (open source of course), to block articles by / about jon katz... that would be some worthwhile software!


Ye gods! (4)

Chris Johnson (580) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254132)

"You are stupid."

DOH! Color me porn!

Funnily enough airwindows.com is not on any list I've ever checked. I say that because in the fiction section is at least one completed novel with adult themes, one short story with adult themes, and an unfinished novel with even more adult themes. All are basically sci-fi or fantasy and none are really gratituous- the closest that I get to gratituous is the last one mentioned, 'Aquarius', which is sci-fi and deals with a society so advanced in genetic engineering that you have 'races' of cat-people, dog-people, wolf and fish and fox ad infinitum people- and the springboard for the adult theme is this: what if humans went into heat? More, what if this was socially unacceptable and got fixed through surgery and medication, but the untreated condition also brought the ability for sharper concentration and fits of intensely hard work? (not to mention the obvious 'private benefits'- and even here, there's a dark side, as in heart attack risks and added stress)

I don't know how many Slashdotters have done serious literary writing, or how many people with 'geek values' are also writers. I _do_ know that I've walked a fine line of MY OWN CHOOSING in writing these things- wanting to deal with the fascinating concepts (it's a very geeky trait of mine that even sex is something to intellectually study in fascination rather than just wallow in), but not wanting to be pigeonholed as a tacky porno writer. As a result, I've had to work quite hard (but am pleased to do so), because if you're writing decently about this subject it _must_ be sensed and felt. Fiction is not a HOWTO, but neither is it a scholarly essay. If I'm setting up tensions they must be felt, they must involve- and interestingly, there seems to _never_ be any reason to use 'dirty keywords' or phrases- it's a lot more effective to take the time and energy to write up such a scene properly. And 'effective' does mean inflaming the imagination- that's what fiction is _for_.

It's ironic- I've never been a particularly prurient writer. I've never written outright porn (this despite the fact that I know where I could sell it for a damned decent price, I might add). My fine line of decency is discreet enough that, even when I write about adult topics, I tend to delicately slip away from the focus of the matter. And yet, every time I read about this damn censorware nonsense, I am more inclined to take my existing approach and really _run_ with it. There's no reason I have to show such decorum. I'm quite capable of taking my SF/fantasy stuff, dealing with the adult topics that do interest me, absolutely going for the throat (or, uh, other areas :) ) and STILL not using any Dirty Keywords.

I consider this the hidden cost of what the censorware people are doing. Eventually they may just have to _read_ my fiction writing and ban me on _content_ alone despite my tendency to not use dirty words. If they are capable of banning 'gay culture', then they are capable of banning the adult situations of entirely fictional characters which aren't even human in the normal everyday sense. But to do so they'll have to actually read it- and they'll also have to really drop the pretense and stand revealed as the bookburners they are.

In conclusion: censorware people? "You are stupid". Pardon my _obscene_ _words_. furrfu.

Re:US != Internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254133)

There are enough countries in the world whose societies have no problems (yet) with sex/homosexuals/drinking/smoking (etc..) and would therefore not accept a limitation of their rights in these areas.

Hmmm... you seem to forget that in these countries they also do not have the same rights as Americans. Similar perhaps, but not the same.

maybe the parents should get a clue (2)

bartyboy (99076) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254134)

I am really happy about this.

IMHO, blocking websites from children should not be done by software but by the parents. If they can't sit down with the kid for a few hours a week to browse disney.com, they probably shouldn't have had children.

Of course, not every parent will sit with a child while they're looking information about volcanos for a school project. This is what history/cookies/cache/ip logs are for - you can *always* find a way to monitor what your kids did.

The best analogy I can think of is not allowing children to watch porn on tv. Sure, they'll still do it on occasion (and they should, eventually), but it won't be done on every day basis.

As for public access from libraries, maybe it's time to face the fact that "CLICK HERE IF YOU ARE UNDER 18" rarely gets pressed. Maybe the public terminals could only be accessed by people of legal age.

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to be checking out porn in *any* public place...

Food for thought. Now it's time to put on my anti-flame suit.


Reverse Engineering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254135)

From what I understand (And I am not a lawyer) The reason DeCss is is such a bad thing is because they broke a
Copy Protection. Not because they reverse engineered it. It seems to me that the whole case could boil down to the
simple question of "Was DeCss a copy protection or a Distribution control system?" If a DVD or any other product
can be copied without breaking the encryption then it is not a copy protection.

why oh why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254136)

This post will be ignored because it is at -1.
It will be ignored becuase it is from an acknowleged mastah.

But you have many valid points. Unfortunatley, they disrupt the generally scheduled series of 'linux rul3z!' posts which we have planned.


Re:not a random sample (1)

stile (54877) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254137)

Merely using the first 50 is not a random sample.

Sure it is! Flip a coin. It comes up heads. Is there a better chance for the next flip to be tails? No, the chances for tails are still 50-50. Selecting the first 50 URLs is just as random as selecting the last 50, or 50 arbitrary ones in the middle. It's even conceivable that a purely arbitrary method of selecting 50 URLs could, in fact, select the first 50. In this case, would you suggest resampling so as not to get those certain first 50? In that case, you would in fact be making the sampling less random. You never know. Statistically, though, selecting the first 50 still constitutes a random sampling.

Re:lists builden by spiders/bots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254138)

And then they could not sell updated lists of sites.

Money, Money, Money

Re:not a random sample (2)

akey (29718) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254139)

Given that the entire list has been decoded, you could have really produced a valid statistic by taking an actual random sample of 50 working .edu sites from the whole list. Merely using the first 50 is not a random sample.
Actually, I just went through all of the "geocities.com/SiliconValley/*" sites listed as a quick test. Most didn't exist, and of those that did, only 4 (out of 20 or so) actually had pr0n on them. I might put together a quick test utility to pull down 1000 pages and look them over. That would probably give a more accurate percentage of invalid blocks. Keep selecting random URLs from the list until I've got 1000.

Anti-slapp (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254140)

Both Mass. and California have some form of anti slap statute.

In my case [sorehands.com] with Mattel, I am arguing that their countersuit violates the anti-retsliation provisions of the FMLA, ADA, etc. This opens them up for unlimited puntive damages.


Legalese translation of software licenses. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254141)

Hello, end-user vermin. Here's some software. It might work. It might not. No gurantees and in fact, we have no responsibility even if it fries your hardware, scrambles your hard drive, blows up your monitor, messes up your credit report, and gets you indicted for tax fraud with the IRS. You however, have no rights at all, peon. You will use the software EXACTLY as we graciously permit you to. Period. Any unauthorized use, regardless of wheather permitted by other laws is (thanks to our lobbying efforts), not just a minor civil violation, but a federal criminal felony. Ha! You agree to waiving all other "fair use" and other rights including constitutional rights and "inalienable" human rights by accepting this EULA. And we might change out minds about what you can do and you agree to that too. We might even decide to scan your hard drive and monitor your network traffic and secretly report that info back to anyone we wish, and without telling you. You, of course, agree to this too. But don't even bother to complain. You should be thrilled we're letting you do anything at all with our product. And if you don't swear blood oath, full compliance with this license, then FUCK YOU and your little dog Toto too and get this software the hell off your computer and destroy the disk. Oh, and if you don't agree, you can't even refund the software, thanks to omnipotent software store policies. Tee-hee! Thnaks for the cash. l00z3rZ! HA Ha ha .......

Stoplists don't work (2)

Geoff (968) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254142)

Ahh, another example of why stoplists don't work, especially on something as nebulous as the Internet.

My new iMac came with a web blocking package, so I decided to see how it works. I don't recall the name of the package, but they do it the right way -- there is a list of "approved" sites, and the person in control (parent, teacher, etc.) can add sites.

The software blocked RedHat [redhat.com], for example, but it was trivial to go in and say, "Naw, it's ok for my kids to go there" and add it to the "ok" list.

Interestingly, Dav Pilkey [pilkey.com] is on the default "ok" list. So apparently being dangerously subversive isn't enough to prevent approval.....

Re:Blocking by /keywords/ ?!?! (2)

sethg (15187) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254143)

Maybe we need a publicly accessed "blocker"... kind of like NoCeMs in usenet - you basically pick a set of "trusted" people who you rate as being able to block stuff. The christian fundies can all subscribe to christian fundie blockers for all the categories, whereas a merely concerned parent might just go with someone a bit less radical.
Parents could set up a proxy server for every computer their kid has access to, which remembers every URL the kid visits; later, the parents could review the list (perhaps previewing a list of thumbnails) and flag URLs containing pr0n, racism, advertising, bad grammar, or whatever else they didn't want their kids to see. They could then digitally sign the list of flagged URLs and send it to some central server.

Then, the parents could tell the proxy server which other reviewers they trusted, and the proxy would block access to any URL that had been flagged by either the parents or their trustees.

The technology for doing all this seems pretty simple ... the biggest programming challenge, I think, would be the interface.
"But, Mulder, the new millennium doesn't begin until January 2001."

Re:Open Source Censorware? (1)

Spoing (152917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254144)

Your idea should be very effective, if done right.

Here are a set of "rules" that could be used in conjunction with a proxy to moderate a web site in a public library;

Don't filter "adult" users or younger people who have been allowed access by a parent/guardian.

Log all data retrieved from a web site.

Keyword and pattern match 'suspect' sites/pages.

Have a real, live, human check the 'suspect' pages.

If sensitive/offensive, tag the page with a set of labels and/or levels.

Submit the tags to an organization that maintains the database of all tagged sites.

Intentional mis-labeling -- to censor political views or because of excessive prudishness -- will revoke previous entries by that person in the database without review.

(The last item will give a level of checks and ballences to prevent zealous groups or individuals from forcing an agenda.)

In the case of grade school (pre-college), the students would be told that it's OK to innocently bring up a page. Since what they read will be tracked *individually*, don't do it intentionally. If a pattern of pages that deal with inappropriate content are pulled up, they can be added to the local list, submitted, and/or the *individual* can get a preverbial "note to the parrents".

The idea here is to provide an open, public, and *distributed* method of using a proxy...and one that could be taylored to "community standards" without pestering 100% of normal people. :)

Problems, gripes, call me an idiot, but it seems like this problem is not too hard to solve reasonably...without giving up all the rights the bigots want to have us give up.

Surf with your kids (3)

Redundant() (89068) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254145)

There is no better way to have your children surfing good links then finding and supplying what you consider to be good links yourself. Porn gets boring very quickly, when you take away the thrill of the forbidden. Eventually all kids are going to get unfiltered access to the internet they might as well learn early where the good links are for them.

The web forces us to make decisions about who's spin is valid something kids didn't have to deal with in the days of the one way media monolith. Perhaps it will force us to be better and more involved parents.

Common Sense wins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254146)

This is just another example of the foolishness of ignorant people, most of us have seen this type of thing before. Someone I worked for ( in the Public Setvice no less), and have a great deal of respect for said to me 'Common sense almost allways wins out'. I believe him. Clear thinkers can see the boneheadedness of exclusive filters, they are a faulty technology and will eventually die a natural death. Don't worry about it. Don't worry about all the loud useless morality preaching fools, they make a lot of noise, but lack substance and have no staying power. inc PS Is it porn to ask the question 'Are Willows tits bigger than Buffys?'

Re:Every large company is guilty... (2)

Analog (564) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254147)

Often the next logical stage is to reverse engineer that feature to get a better understanding of it, especially if the method used is not obvious. Yes this is illegal

No it's not. The only thing that even remotely forbids this is the provision in most EULA's that prohibits it, but most companies with a reasonable legal budget will have no problem getting that shot down should the need arise.

I think the big thing here is that the software industry wants an exception to law that no other industry gets; reverse engineering is actually protected by law in this country. The software industry is still just trotting out the tired old 'software is different' mantra that keeps them out of trouble with things like the consumer protection laws, and unfortunately, people are still falling for it.

Re:Every large company is guilty... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254148)

Not so. Only small companies/open-source/individuals will get prosecuted for reverse engineering. Say M$ reverse engineers a new product instead of buying the company (for a change ;)), is this company going to sue M$? They might try, but big corperate battles have proven to nosedive into the mud and hurt both involved. OTOH, whacking small defenseless companies or those without mega-bucks to protect themselves will be done quite often, after all: the big companies have a god-given right (read: manifest destiny) to squish every little jerk who thinks he can change the way the market works. *blah*

-Elendale (can't login cuz he's forced to use an ancient version of netscape for now)

Re:Up Europe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254149)

OpenBSD : From Canada, land of free encryption (among other things)

No need to leave North America, these rulings don't affect Canada yet :) We do have a nasty habit of adopting (or being involuntarily "forced" to adopt) some US bills/laws though.

Re:Every large company is guilty... (1)

sstrick (137546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254150)

Thats my point, they are all guilty of it, only the small ones get caught.

Re:Blocking by /keywords/ ?!?! (2)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254151)

I remember back in the BBS days, when I was young, my dad would take the computer cord, but he didn't take the monitor cord. I would switch the cords, and use the computer without a monitor, sending output to the printer. heheh the days of dos!

Re:Building smut file (2)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254152)

The way to block a distributed technique is to cease providing that service. This service is useful to individuals, but if it is being used to circumvent measures they took to prevent an aggregate list from being public, it would be appropriate for them to disable it.

Re:Can't these utilities protect themselves? (2)

Shadowlion (18254) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254153)

Better yet, encrypt it.

If my understanding of copyright law is correct (IANAL!), DeCSS is copyrighted by the author(s), even if the function of the program may be illegal.

If the MPAA/whoever ignores the license agreement and decides to crack the encryption on the self-extracting archive anyways, you can simply turn around and file a countersuit against them under the auspices of the DMCA for unauthorized circumvention of a technological means for controlling access to a copyrighted work.

Re:User-agent "Mudcrawler" (2)

KaCee (142522) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254154)

Do you get the feeling that even the programmers know that their software is pretty much useless?

Given the ones I've interviewed for articles on this subject (for Network World Canada), yes. The people who produce these products are fairly aware that they're playing on parental and school board insecurity to sell something.

That's why many of these products spend less effort on blocking pages (since kids can get around them, often just by using numerical IP addresses) and focus instead on logging everything the user does. That way, mommy and daddy can check the log later and see that little Timmy was looking at porn and little Susie was reading about wicca (a common target of censorware).

This is, of course, even more insidious, because a confused kid looking for honest information on sexual orientation, diseases, etc. can think they're safe, only to have someone come down on them later. What better way to pry into your kid's life than give them a false sense of privacy?

The people making the software exude an attitude of giving parents control, not of protecting children. And proudly so.

-- Kimberly "evil liberal" Chapman

Re:Like I've said before... (2)

Cuthalion (65550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254155)

"if you go into a bicycle shop, you expect to see bicycles. Why should public Internet terminals be any different?"

They shouldn't. If you go out into the world, you should expect to see the world.

Re:Anti-slapp (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254156)

>Both Mass. and California have some form of anti slap statute.

And civilised countries have a loser-pay system.

Re:not a random sample (1)

JatTDB (29747) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254157)

True, but it's a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenario. If they had chosen 50 sites on a truly random basis, then proponents of censorware would say that the choices were not in fact random, but chosen specifically to try to undermine the reputation of the software. It's lame, yes, but choosing anything other than an arbitrary range (not a random selection) would just give the opposition something to spin.

What's all the fuss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254158)

Cripes... X-Stop [x-stop.com] looks pretty harmless to me :-) (I wonder how long before X-Stop blocks X-Stop for not promoting X-Stop.)

Re:blocking software (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254159)

Aren't their actions a direct violation of Free Speech?

Not as long as people are not forced by the government to use this software, which is why the library thing is a big deal. Example: You don't have to go to a bookstore and buy a copy of Hustler. And Barnes and Noble might choose not to carry that kind of magazine. Free speech is the ability to make your own decisions about what you look at or listen to or even sell. This software does not violate that right unless you are forced to use it. A violation of free speech would be if bookstores that sold Hustler were closed down and you couldn't buy it whether you wanted to or not.

You can get around that (2)

CausticPuppy (82139) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254160)

My company uses the SurfNazi.. er, SurfWatch on the proxy server. The Onion is blocked out! Nooooo!

Instead of the dialup, you can go through an anonymizer or URL rewriter. Many of those are also blocked by SurfWatch, but not fr0.idzap.com. It's free, but you have to have look at an extra banner ad. It also doesn't require you to change your proxy setting. Any site that's in their blocked site list will go through (like TheOnion) but URL's that have keywords in them still get blocked.

Re:Lots of companies do this. (2)

powerlord (28156) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254164)

I believe it was a Suzuki 4-whell drive (ie. Jeep... but Jeep is trademarked by Chrysler), that basically rolled over (possibly more then once but I don't really remember) while they were driving it to the test course :)

Due to this 'undocumented feature' it got the nickname "Suzuki Suicide" (vs. Suzuki Samuri(sp?) which I believe was the vehicles original name).

They can't burn books so they go after the WWW (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254165)

It strikes me that if an organisation of 'moral guardians' set themselves up and went round burning books and stealing 'offensive' books from bookshops to prevent them being read there'd be a huge outcry.

But because it's the Internet rather than books it's ok. I never could grok this attitude.

It's as though any media that has popular appeal is to be feared and attacked. With a few exceptions art exhibitions are not censored, but every cinema film is in most countries and TV is constantly redefining the lowest common denominator. It's such a poodle the censors don't even need to threaten it.

What qualifies as Europe...? (3)

Non-Newtonian Fluid (16797) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254166)

I wonder ... if I were to log on remotely to a site someplace in Sweden from my home here in the US of A, and do all my hacking there, then what? Certainly there is work being done in America, since I'm the one who's thinking and trying to understand what's going on, and I'm most definitely here. But at the same time, much of that process is going on remotely in another nation. What if some one else was doing all the hacking on that other computer, without me actually coding anything, but through IRC or on the telephone I was explaining to him/her what was going on and what needed to be done to reverse engineer the product. What then? Where is the reverse engineering taking place?

More importantly, how does/will law deal with the Zen koan that is the Internet -- it being both everywhere and nowhere all at once?

Re:User-agent "Mudcrawler" (1)

madvax (84231) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254167)

My guess would be that if Mudcrawler couldn't access your page, it would be assumed to be smut and blocked.
Damn, my server is down! Oops! Looks like my billion dollar DotCom site is now listed as smut!

Re:not a random sample (1)

schussat (33312) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254168)

Selecting the first 50 URLs is just as random as selecting the last 50, or 50 arbitrary ones in the middle.

Mmm, not really. What if the list is alphabetical, and entries in the "a" section correlate with porn? Or not porn? The first 50, last 50, or middle fifty are all clusters -- decidedly not random. While you're right that it's possible, but highly unlikely, that a random sample would select the first 50 .edu sites, intentionally selecting the first 50 .edu sites is certainly not random.

Besides, it's easy to pull out all the .edu's and do a truly random sample. That's probably what they should do to be methodologically precise.


Re:Up Europe! (1)

theonetruekeebler (60888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254169)

UTICA will basically do to the rest of the American software industry what anti-crypto laws have done to the American cryptographic software industry--crush it, drive it underground, stifle innovation, put it under the control of a handful of corporations whose best interest is served by entering a collusive agreement with the U.S. government, whose recent track record on human rights over corporate rights is, to say the least, bad.

Then all the remaining viable innovation will go overseas.

As long as the flow of information continues, this can't go on forever.

This is precisely what they are attempting to do: choke the flow of information. If you can accuse anyone of "reverse engineering" if they decrypt a "trade secret", then all MS would have needed to do is rot13 the Halloween documents [opensource.org] and noone but the government could legally investigate their activities.


Re:Blocking by /keywords/ ?!?! (1)

B. Samedi (48894) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254171)

Good idea but you're missing the obvious point here. What you just described requires effort on the part of the parent. The good parents are already making sure their child isn't cruising the porn sites and the other ones want a quick fix. What you described requires more effort then your average "Protect the children!" fanatic wants to put into it. If you want to keep your kids from being online when your not home or otherwise able to watch them, take the cord with you. If nothing else they'll learn the computer trying to figure out how to fix it so they can get online again. ("Damn! The modem isn't working! What's wrong? Hey, whats behind this beige box with the power switch?")

Miss Liberty... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254172)

... definitely should shove the torch up her ...

Re:Blocking by /keywords/ ?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254175)

..."tell them that you are too stupid to own a computer".


Damn, and that was one of my favorite jokes, too. :|

Re:Rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254177)

They will also have taken away the citizenry's arms, so that the "right and duty of the people" will be impossible to fulfill.

blocking software (1)

ormoru (121922) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254184)

Doesnt 'Blocking Software' qualify as an oxymoron? or at least the people who run the companies that engage in such activity?
Aren't their actions a direct violation of Free Speech? Not that we _really_ still retain our free speech rights, now it all hasta be 'p.c.'
How is it that corporations and companies get away with saying whatever they want, and shutting down the poor sods that disagree with them?
I thought the bill of rights was for citizens, not companies.
This is just another example that the time is nigh to rear up our collective head, and grab these jokers in our maw and not let go until they lie twitching on the ground.
Its no longer a joke, folks. It's time to get up, stand up, and fight for the right to

wake up and smell the napalm.
and lob a few funky bombs where it hurts.

"trial and error" is reverse engineering? (3)

mangu (126918) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254185)

Wow, if I write a random program I can be guilty of reverse engineering!

From my point of view, the law should say: "reverse engineering is permitted. 'Reverse engineering' is hereby defined as any method by which someone may gather information about how a software or hardware works".

Anything else is ridiculous. If I simply watch how something works I can design another thing that works in the same way. The internal components may be different or not, but if both the first designer and I followed the current engineering practice, there is a strong chance that we will arrive to similar designs.

If a design is original, and the owners want to protect it, they should *patent* it.

Moderators, take note:
1)Read the moderation guidelines before moderating anything

Up Europe! (2)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254186)

I guess this means that, for the time being, any software that needs reverse engineering might have to be done in Europe. What do people think about the chances of this kind of thing being done via Europe, i.e. someone in US discovers something dodgy in a programme, finds the offending code, then 'hints' to someone in Europe that they might like to release the information...? Or am I just being nieve?

Although all these restrictions will be a pain for the time being, I can't see how the law can continue to fly in the face of progress for ever. I remember reading "The Hacker's Handbook" (remember that?) in the 80s and all the controversy that caused. Back then, computer 'crimes' were being dealt with by analogy to existing laws. People in the UK were prosecuted for 'theft of electricity' and 'trespassing' until such a time as the law caught up. Now it seems like the law is getting ahead of things and listening to corporations rather than Real People.

As long as the flow of information continues, this can't go on forever.


Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254187)

moderate it down!

Re:Maybe sell smut files? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254188)

CyberPatrol does have a page to check their list to see if a site is on it. It does not do much good for seeing how good their list is, but at least you can check if your own site is on it.

Cool! So anyone who is capable enough to write or download and run a web crawler could discover every URL on the internet, and then submit it to CyberPatrol to get a complete list of blocked sites.

Hello? Anyone at distributed.net listening?

Mattel wants it illegal to embarass them! (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254189)

If you embarass Mattel on the web, they will try to sue you into oblivion.

For those who don't know, I posted the information about my lawsuit [sorehands.com] against them. They filed a countersuit for libel, saying the information on the site is not true. They still continue with this countersuit after they paid over $140k to me in a judgment. If the information on the site was not true, why would they pay so much money for a lawsuit which is detailed on the site?

Mattel Threatened one kid who put some Barbie jokes up at school [nmt.edu]. I was informed that Mattel also is going after Barbie Benson and her site Barbie's Sin Circus [barbiebenson.com] for using the name Barbie. It has nothing to do with the doll (except, when you see her pic, you'll see she's a doll ;).

DeCSS code on a T-shirt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254190)

Would it be illegal to print the DeCSS source code on a T-shirt? Besides beeing quite a cool "picture" to have on a T-shirt, it would surely boost the sales ;-) Anyone having some blank surplus T-shirts and a printing facility?

Make sure parents are informed (2)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254191)

One way to put a dent in filtering software companies' wallets is to make sure parents see peacefire.org when they search for filtering software. Currently, if I search for "filtering software" on Google, peacefire is the 30th link, after all of the software manufacturers' pages.

For Google, the way to improve peacefire's exposure is to link it from your own personal web pages and make sure those pages are indexed. I dunno about other search engines.


Ahh... So naive you are. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254192)

Do you still think that the state laws serve justice or whatever?
Oh, my... Let's say it this way: they have billions, you haven't. Hence, you lose. When was it last time than some industrial giant or billionaire lost? They can't even do anything with Microsoft where the case in more transparent than distilled water.

Don't forget compartmentalization of knowledge (1)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254193)

Wpoliticians collecting more and more money over the internet you'd think they would pass more clueful laws about it.
Unfortunately, raising cash is more a function of the campaign manager than the candidate. Worse, the kind of expertise needed to raise money doesn't necessarily imply cluefulness; think about the Internet equivalent of bulk mail appeals, for example. My appraisal of the prospects for Internet campaigning leading to improvements in lawmaking is that it isn't likely. Just look at Holland, MI for a counterexample. The Internet is still a convenient bogeyman, so expect lots of cluelessness for a while.

Re:Blocking by /keywords/ ?!?! (1)

zantispam (78764) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254194)

"Parents could set up a proxy server for every computer their kid has access to, which remembers every URL the kid visits; later, the parents could review the list..."

That's a great idea. However, I read something here yesterday (on jamie's [slashdot.org] library story) that makes this a bad idea.

If you're a kid, and your parents are abusive, you don't want them to see you researching how to [run away|get help| remove yourself from their control]. If you're a fifteen year-old girl, you may not want your dad to see that you accessed Planned Parenthood looking for information on contraceptives.

There are other examples as well. These are situations where complete disclosure could potentially put someone's life at risk (especially the first example).

Any suggestions as to how to get around this problem, while still implementing this idea?

Here's my [redrival.com] copy of DeCSS. Where's yours?

Trade Secret? (1)

Hephaestus_Lee (135156) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254195)

Trade Secret? The idea makes me laugh. They trying to cover the fact that it doesn't take an expert to write a perl script that can generate one of these black lists.


Filtering software (1)

Ice Tiger (10883) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254196)

I am not condoning this product in any way, but the company I work for uses Websense [websense.com] to do it's filtering of the company Internet feed. Now they at least let you see what category a site is blocked under and you can tell them they got it wrong and they will review the URL. You can even suggest new sites they don't have yet.

Now I guess they figure (correctly IMHO) that you pay for the service or correlating all these URLS and the actual list should be open and as much controlled by users (suggest updates, suggest corrections) as the company.

Censorship is wrong and not letting customers participate in the list management is even more blatent giving up your rights.

Re:Lots of companies do this. (2)

theonetruekeebler (60888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254198)

Brill's Content [brillscontent.com] did an interesting article [brillscontent.com] calling into question some of Consumer Report's famed impartiality and meticulous testing methodologies, particularly on the issue of SUVs. Essentially, the suit filed by Isuzu and Suzuki alleges that CU has an editorial bias against SUVs:
The Suzuki litigation includes a sworn statement from Ronald Denison, a former test-facility employee for the magazine, who alleges that on the day the Suzuki Samurai was being tested in 1988, he heard Irwin Landau, the magazine's editorial director at the time, tell an engineer, "If you can't find someone to roll this car, I will." Landau said in his deposition that he would never have said such a thing, except in jest.

CU has expressed the opinion that SUVs are frivolous, gas-hungry, clumsy and wasteful. As a motorcycle rider in SUV-saturated Atlanta, I am inclined to agree with their assessment (and add further opinion on the typical driving abilities of their owners), but if there is a hidden editorial agenda which is influencing their testing methods, this is clearly cause for concern.

Is this a SLAPP suit? Sales of the Isuzu Trooper, which several contemporary offroad and 4WD magazines praised, suffered horribly after the Consumer Reports article. But it's worth noting what the Isuzu/Suzuki lawsuit tries hard to ignore--while the Trooper and Sidekick failed the lane-swerve test by rolling, that the Chevrolet Tahoe, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota 4Runner in the same article all passed the test acceptibly.


Re:Like I've said before... (3)

arivanov (12034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254200)

Good point. Though the sandwich should be replaced by a baseball bat dipped in glue and broken glass a few times.

Continuing my previous post on SMUTSITE-miniHOWTO which was kind of vague. The following cause a well defined smut site to be greperitus resistant:

These are only antipattern matching HTML techniques. Pure networking intentionally omitted:

  • The discussion on Java script injection in HOTMAIL on Bugtraq is a very good guide on masqing characters. Specifying a character as an escaped HEX, specifying it by HTML code, specifying it inside JavaScript Function, etc ad naseum. In order to match these the search engine will have to start interpreting HTML as a browser. Guess how much resources does this take.
  • Though brilliant the BUGTRAQ discussion is highly limited. Javascript is more sensistive than pure HTML to bastardizing. In order to bastardize HTML the following options are also available: insert non-breakable spaces, tabs, backspaces, etc through their HTML encoding equivalents.
  • Best of all use a pattern matching algorithm yourself and whenever you find smut in a page you shall display replace all "offending" f...oids, s...oids, etc with a mixture of randomly selected escaped alternatives. Ala stealth virus techniques.
And best of all make your smut site to operate via post style CGI's filling form values via JavaScript. There is no robot designed for these. And it is least likely to be designed beacuse this will require the robot to go as far as running javascript.

If smut filter vendors had a clue on how evasive their subject is they would have been in a different business by now.

A little off-topic, but related. (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254202)

I don't think I fully understand the reverse-engineering clauses in UCITA. Is it really
going to outlaw all reverse-engineering? Do the major software companies really want this?

If you go into any major software program they almost all support importing/exporting into some competitors format. Are these competing formats open standards? I doubt it; they were probably reverse-engineered. Or what about Microsoft reverse-engineering of the AOL messenger protocol? That would now be illegal?

Is this the end of interoperability between proprietary packages?

Re:Blocking by /keywords/ ?!?! (2)

sethg (15187) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254204)

I agree that this requires the parents to do a lot of work, but if enough people sign onto the system, the parents who don't want to do a lot of work can just place their trust in a few of the more active folks. (Open-source censorship, er, editorial review, so to speak.)
"But, Mulder, the new millennium doesn't begin until January 2001."

Brave New World? (2)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254211)

While it scares me to death that things like the DeCSS fiasco and content blocking are going on, it is far scarier that so many people either don't know or don't care. My friends think I'm weird for not going to the movies (for $8), and they don't get it when I try to explain why DeCSS is important. We live in a world where we depend more and more on technology but a growing number of people (the vast majority) understand that technology less and less every day. With this sort of apathy, we cannot hope to beat the big corporations in these legal battles. We are all up in arms (and VERY rightly so), but that doesn't matter. We need to get John "What's a computer?" Doe to care.

...just my $0.02...

Re:blocking software (1)

dr_bogenbroom (128792) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254212)

They are not violating free speech as use of their products is an optional thing. If a company wants to keep its employees from surfing for porn, they install the software. They are not violating anyones free speech by using this software. The only way it would be violation is if the government stepped in and said, okay, all ISP's in the US must install this software so that no citizen within the US can view any of these sites. I guess from the looks of things though, that day may not be all that far off. Where's Orwell when you need him.

Re:User-agent "Mudcrawler" (1)

Shadowlion (18254) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254213)

That is, of course, Mudcrawler identifies itself as such.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least of Mudcrawler didn't obey robot exclusion (robots.txt) and used falsified headers to make it look like it came from IE or Netscape for the sole purpose of making sure it *wasn't* blocked from a particular site.

[OT]Big posts (Was:Re:The Internet and Democracy) (1)

Captain_SpankMunki (115974) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254214)

As informative as it was, a synopsis and a link to the rest of the article may have been a better idea.

Interesting stuff tho :)

Captain SpankMunki

If in trouble, or in doubt,
Run in circles, scream and shout.

Every large company is guilty... (2)

sstrick (137546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254215)

Virtually every old, large software company is guilty of reverse engineering at some stage. Even though it's probably not part of there corporate policy.

How many times has a programmer been told to duplicate a competitors feature and started by looking at how the competitor has done it. Often the next logical stage is to reverse engineer that feature to get a better understanding of it, especially if the method used is not obvious. Yes this is illegal, it probably should be as well but without doubt a programmer in every large organisation has done it.

Of course they don't tell the world they did it...but if they can't stop it being done for corporate profit should they really stop it for community awareness?

Interlock Proxy Firewall blocking peacefire.org (1)

lweinmunson (91267) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254216)

I just tried to go to the Peacefire sight to take a look at the report. Well looks like my nice little company fire wall is blocking the entire peacefire.org web site. Guess I'll have to use a dialup to get the cracking tool for the full bin list so I can see what else has been blocked.


X-Stop is amazing great technology (2)

f5426 (144654) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254217)

From their website (emphasis added):

Here's what DAB has to do:

1.User requests a URL through a browser

2.Before the computer even gets the keystrokes, the URL is translated (if necessary) and compared to the URL list. Because this is done with numbers instead of letters (there are only 10 digits! There are 255 characters...) the response is nearly instantaneous. If the site is on the blocked list, the screen is covered, and the violation message is displayed.

You little wankers just can't understand that. Go back hacking your silly kernels toys and let real people transfer keystrokes to base-10 number before the computer get it.

Blocking by /keywords/ ?!?! (4)

SillyWiz (149681) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254218)

You /HAVE/ to be kidding me? This is how they search for "smut"?

Good grief. I mean, according to those bits of search file, doesn't having the phrase "you are too stupid" on a page sucessfully match?

Maybe we need a publicly accessed "blocker"... kind of like NoCeMs in usenet - you basically pick a set of "trusted" people who you rate as being able to block stuff. The christian fundies can all subscribe to christian fundie blockers for all the categories, whereas a merely concerned parent might just go with someone a bit less radical.

Having a centralised system just seems hugely open to all kinds of manipulation: right from the naive bozoness that seems to permeate the industry these days to corruption, bribery and even actual criminal intent. Distributing the system removes a large amount of that failure.

I mean personally, I kind of think it would be nice to trust sites to rate themselves as "porn" or "unsuitable for minors" or "religious content", but I can see why people wouldn't trust it. The porn sites include "perl" in meta-tags and stuff. Honesty doesn't exactly seem to come hand-in-hand with web businesses. (Business models built on hit-counts seem basically flawed to me. Would you want to advertise on a page whose basic method of getting people to go there was to con them? Great chance they'll read the ads then...)

Distribution has to be the way to go. Undermine the obviously broken corporate approach with an open standard that ends up being free.

Re:User-agent "Mudcrawler" (1)

Swamp (19020) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254230)

So, if I were a porn site operator, all I'd need to do is disallow access to User-agent: "Mudcrawler" and then kids can surf my site freely.

Not if 'Mudcrawler' pretended to be a legitimate user agent and ignored the robots.txt file.

Do you get the feeling that even the programmers know that their software is pretty much useless?

All the time

Open Source Censorware? (3)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254231)

Is there such a beast? This strikes me as the best way to deal with the problem - produce some software that does the job properly, and is open to peer review. Something like Junkbuster [junkbusters.com].

Re:"trial and error" is reverse engineering? (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254232)

the term "reverse engineering" shall apply to ... such methods as ... activity logging.

Also, it seems that the library isn't allowed to browse its own web access log in order to see what has been blocked by censorware. Cute.

Building smut file (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254233)

You got a point. The only problem, is that Reed (the Chief software engineer on CyberPatrol) is a good programmer. Sometimes I don't agree with some of his methods and techniques, but he would figure out what is going on. And then block it. But could he block a distributed technique?

People of the of the CyberWorld Unite, forget Seti, lets start SmutFinder. :)

really grasping at straws here.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254234)

I guess you reasoned that since no one gave a rat's hindquarters about your previous 'features' about internet filters you might be able to rouse a little more interest by tieing DeCSS and the like to it.

Didn't work.
Still uninterested.
Jamie is still a screaming whining harpie.

Re:Maybe sell smut files? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1254235)

You do realize that's impossible, right? And if you tried it, it'd be a DOS...

lists builden by spiders/bots (1)

bogado (25959) | more than 14 years ago | (#1254236)

I can't figure out why this companies goes into the trouble of creating a list of censor URLs when those lists are created only with the aid of bot. The company would profit much more if they simply incorporated the bot/spider into a proxy and it would test every page seen to check if the bot would have it classified as censored, if so it would show a censored page instead. The error rate would be the same and you won't need to manage a ever changing url database of thousands or even millions of URLs. And the best part is that this would work on new pages that were created after the DB was collected, or before the spider find the site.

If you add a table of exceptions then you could lower the error rate, and considering that the spider is good in what it does this would be a much smaller DB.

Of course all I said is only when there is no human interface with the DB, if this spider work by selecting site to be censored so that a Human could review it before actualy cansoring it, then all my arguments above areuseless. :-)

"take the red pill and you stay in wonderland and I'll show you how deep the rabitt hole goes"
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account