I’VE BEEN BANNED…!

March 31st, 2005

Headspace-On my stereo: The Capitol/Blue Note Years by Miles Davis; In my backpack: The End Of Faith: Religion, Terror And The Future Of Reason by Sam Harris; On my nightstand: Autumn Bridge by Takashyi Matsuoka; On my computer: The Months by Linda Pastan; On my screen: The Politician’s Wife (***) directed by Graham Theakston, written by Paula Milne.

I’ve held off on this story for two reasons. First, I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t endanger the other party in the story. And second, I wanted to see if the initial problem could be resolved. I got an email this evening that makes me confident that both criteria are met.

Last month I posted a story about discovering, via my log files, that I had a reader in a country in Southeast Asia. Shortly after posting that piece, I got an email, with the above screen shot attached, that informed me that:

This morning I tried to access your site, and the all-too-familiar screen came up that reads: “Access have been denied for the following reason: banned combination phrase.” (see attachment). All places that I visit on the net are monitored, and each site can be blocked for “objectionable material.”

I made some changes to that original post on Saturday, 12 March, and apparently the country involved has decided that I’m no longer a threat to its safety and security.

Yesterday I sent an email to the reader and asked if I could tell the story. Here is the reply I received this evening:

For some, magical reason, your site was unblocked. There is no rhyme or reason why this happened, other than I took your blog off of my “frequent flyer” list for a while.

When the spyware they use picks up banned phrases, then they read the sites, especially is there are many attempts to access the banned site.

[snip]

If you make another post, my suspicion is that it would be blocked again. Because I love your site and want to keep reading it, I would say, don’t make the new posting. On the other hand, if I were in your shoes, I’d want
to make the posting: it’s so juicy!

It’s your call!

The snipped material is what might identify the reader and/or get my blog banned again.

I feel confident that I’ve taken reasonable security precautions to protect the reader and yet get this story out. When we post things on the Internet we too easily assume that we’re posting for the World to see. We forget that there are governments out there that are willing to use a kind of governmental nanny program to keep its citizens from being exposed to messages that might be harmful to their continued power.

This is something I’d like to explore with other bloggers. Are there things we can do to foster more access? Should there be some kind of International Coalition of Bloggers that would work to open up or beat down the walls in the Internet?

Let me know.

3 Responses to “I’VE BEEN BANNED…!”

  1. Tish G says:

    Interesting post, Jeff….although I’m not sure if we over here should do anything about what other contries do regarding blocking sites. That, to me, smacks too much of American interventionism, and I think we’ve seen enough of that with the recent war. If people are not being maimed, killed, enslaved or otherwise seriously harmed, do we have a right to impose American values and ideas of freedom on them?

    What we might want to consider, though, is the amazing amount of freedom we have with the Internet, and that our government, for the time being, believes we are mature and responsible enough to self-regulate what comes in and out of our homes.

    When it comes to blogs, though, we who keep them might want to stay more well-informed about what is being determined about blogs by various groups who belive they have the authority to determine what constitutes a “significant blog,” whether or not all blogs are forms of journalism, and ethics in blogging. All bloggers have a stake in these arguments, not just those at Harvard, NYU, or some other geek-driven outpost. Keeping abrest of what’s going on among the self-appointed leaders in our own Blogosphere will protect not only the readers of our blogs but also the style and content of what we are allowed to post.

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