I hate content filtering
June 13, 2007

It's quite unusual for me to post something here that I also post on my public, professional blog. But today, but today, I'm doing just that:

We are having a broadband problem here in Kabul, both at the government ministry where I work and in my guest house. We don't have the "room" on our connection for, say, everyone watching YouTube. Watching online videos takes up a LOT of bandwidth. So the IT guys at both locations have installed firewalls that prevent most viewing of online video. This came at just the time I was asking online volunteers to look for online videos by nonprofit or even government offices on YouTube that they thought were great examples that we might be able to emulate. Understanding that online video does, indeed, take up a lot of bandwidth and that it would be difficult to make an exception just for me (and I'd probably look for more Gram Parsonsvideos anyway), I'll just do my short video about my project and upload it when I'm back in Germany, and hope it meets the standards of others on YouTube. Fine.

(At least I can still watch Daily Show clips from the guest house)

But the firewall is also filtering content. That means that I also can't view most sites or news articles regarding the fight against female gen!tal mutil@tion (and I've munged that word in case you have a similar filter on your Internet connection), the exploit@tion of women and girls, child marriage, nor protecting children on the Internet, all subjects in which I'm intensely interested both professionally and personally. Today, I was denied access to a report "to inform and help develop the gender mainstreaming of the Social Inclusion Process, drawing on national reports for 30 European countries." I am beyond frustrated! But what can I do? I am in a deeply conservative country, and I'm not sure I could appropriately explain why I need access to sites that use certain words of a sexu@al nature as part of my job.

It must be really tough for people in libraries that use content filtering to research information on, say, on bre@st cancer...


If you have read this blawg, PLEASE let me know.
Comments are welcomed, and motivate me to keep writing --
without comments, I start to think I'm talking to cyberair.

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