[IRP] [Expression] openDNS - seems to be a decent way of content filtering

Meryem Marzouki marzouki
Mon Jul 13 18:35:19 EEST 2009

Le 12 juil. 09 ? 22:34, Karl Auerbach a ?crit :

> On 07/12/2009 10:59 AM, Max Senges wrote:
>> last night i met someone from www.openDns.com <http:// 
>> www.openDns.com>
> Of course, using DNS as a filter for web traffic is sort of like  
> using a sledge hammer to open eggs - The problem being that DNS is  
> used by many other protocols than those used by web browsers.  In  
> other words, the filtering is overbroad.

DNS filtering is overbroad for other reasons too, e.g. because of IP  
sharing. For a comprehensive report and recommendations on technical  
filtering, see: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=CM(2008) 
The CoE recommendation is at: https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?Ref=CM 
(2008)37 (Council of Europe Report).

> But when a system is voluntary, such as openDNS, who are we to say  
> an internet thing is bad if a user chooses to do it and that user  
> can stop using it at any time he/she wants?

Who are we? As far as I, and many other activist colleagues around  
the world, are concerned, we've been busy enough since the mid-90s  
fighting various - voluntary or not, or voluntary at first, then  
imposed - filtering methods and software (including W3C's PICS, the  
so-called 'neutral' platform), in various arena (EU, Council of  
Europe, OECD, OSCE, UNESCO, etc.), to be able to tell you that the  
dangers remain the same since then.

- For earliest documents, see: http://gilc.org/speech/ratings/
- For a synthesis on the issue as of 2002 (but arguments still widely  
applicable), see Felipe Rodriquez (founder of xs4all), 'Burning the  
village to roast the pig': http://www.xs4all.nl/~felipe/ 
OSCE_paper.pdf (which includes a section on PICS/ICRA)

Many changes have indeed occurred since then:
- technical progress in filtering technologies (now based on advanced  
techniques such as DPI, datamining, multi-agents systems using  
linguistic software, etc.)
- new filtering purposes, widely accepted (against spam, phishing, etc.)
- new and strong lobbies and supports (e.g. IP right holders)
- new acceptance reasons from netadmins (preservation of bandwidth)
- FOSS filters (I like this quote so much: "It is possible to commit   
censorship in a totally GPL fashion so not only do you know what it  
is you're censoring, but so you can control it to your heart's  
content":  http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=6807)
- and now comes the "community-based filtering" (or, in a more  
fashionable way, "peer production of content regulation"... why not  
even calling this "social filtering"?!).

In the end, with such developments, one might indeed think that we  
have reached a "decent way of content filtering". Except that there  
is no decent way of doing that, if you stick to fundamental  
democratic principles. How advanced they could be, these technical  
mechanisms are insidiously formatting social consent, they cause the  
atrophy of people's free will, they incite parents to substitute  
software customization (often using default settings) to education,  
they don't allow children to understand the dangers of real life,  
they standardize cultural diversity according to a dominant  
(generally western, if not anglo-saxon) way of thinking. In other  
words, while these filters are addressing so-called children needs,  
they transform all citizens into minors.

Meryem Marzouki
Meryem Marzouki - http://www.iris.sgdg.org
IRIS - Imaginons un r?seau Internet solidaire
40 rue de la Justice - 75020 Paris

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