The Challenge of Filtering: One Reason to Hire Human Editors

May 17, 2018

In an effort to keep innocent bystanders and children safe from all the nastiness of the net a decade ago, British officials created the greatest firewall this side of China. The results are finally starting to be seen with clear hindsight and they are not a glowing view of the project. We discovered more of this botched attempt at government oversight from a recent BoingBoing piece, “Britain’s Great Firewall Blocks Access to Official Disney Sites, Internet Safety Guides, VPNs and Coding Sites for Kids.”

According to the story the wall is intended to create a:

“[H]armful content blocklist that UK ISPs are using to keep UK children safe.

“Unsurprisingly, the list is full of embarrassing false positives, including disney.co.uk (the official UK site of the Walt Disney Company), as well as Disney’s disneymoviesanywhere.com. More awkward: the UK’s largest ISPs are blocking internetsafetyday.org, a website that teaches kids to use the internet safely; also blocked is kidsandcode.org, which teaches children to write software.”

Despite this kind of gaffe, other nations are not being scared off by firewalls. Perhaps that’s a sign of each government’s views on civil liberties, because the UK is trying to fix its problem while Russia is considering adopting a similar firewall. This is a developing front worth following because the way we interact with other nations is at stake.

Patrick Roland, May 17, 2018

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