....LMB: "Sexy Headlines Undercut Truth"....

November 13, 2002

"Library Sex Site Case Goes to High Court"
"Justices to Hear Internet Porn Case"

Just a few recent headlines about a Supreme Court case regarding the use of internet filtering software on computers in public libraries. The American Library Association doesn't want to use them. The "won't someone please think of the children" crowd want them to.

Basically, the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) passed in April of 2001, says that any library that receives federal funding needs to install filtering software on all of their internet-accessible computers, to protect any children from viewing sites that might be pornographic, or otherwise "inappropriate."

Sadly, it looks like the press is using this, one if its few justified opportunities, to play up the sex/porn angle and make their stories more titillating. In reality, this issue isn't about sex, it's a dull issue of computer coding.

The technology to effectively keep kids from internet porn does not exist. The Federal demand that libraries install filtering software to protect kids from pornography would be like Congress passing a law demanding that all passenger cars give up gasoline and run solely on rainbows and moonbeams.

Basically, all internet filtering software runs on blocking sites which use certain keywords. Picking out which keywords to use is a tricky business. Do you block "sex"? That would get rid of a lot of pornographic sites, but also elminate sites that use the word at all, sites about AIDS info, gay rights, or even the rantings of Jake SEXton. "Fuck"? Lots of sites that have nothing to do with sex use swear words. And on and on it goes. The software that is most effective in blocking porn is the one that goes too far and blocks out a myriad of unrelated sites. On top of that, the filtering software often has wierd little bugs that eliminate sites for reasons no one can comprehend. The LA Times article above notes that some filtering software "screened out a site for aspiring dentists, a second site that promotes federalism in Uganda and a third that sells wooden wall hangings of scenes from the Bible." And while that might be okay for a parent to install on their home computer to protect their own kids, how okay is it to install on a computer used by a community's children and adults at centers for information and research?

Honestly, wouldn't the easiest method to this "problem" (and how many kids are actually going to their local library to look at porn anyway?) to put the computers in an area where the librarians can keep an eye on them? What's more effective, some unpredictablly goofy software, or a rational adult that can glance across the room every few minutes and, if need be, send an offending child scurrying? "Get out of that chair, little Billy! No vaginas for you!"

[edit]

This just in, Public library's filtering software causes it to ban its own website.

Posted by Jake at 10:31 AM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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