Monday, January 4, 2010

We're being Censored and ...

... most of us don't seem to know about it!

The following is an extract from an article (italics added by me) in a newsletter from Mercury News, a prominent US/Silicon Valley newspaper and the title of this post links to an article in The Guardian on the subject:

"...Meanwhile, India's latest anti-pornography measures are getting an assist from Yahoo and Microsoft. The Guardian reports that as of earlier this month, Indian users of those companies' search sites are locked into the most restrictive filter setting for their results. Should a user try a search for sexual material on Microsoft's Bing, for instance, a notice will pop up explaining that "your country or region requires a strict Bing SafeSearch setting, which filters out results that might return adult content." And given the nature of filters, that likely means some legitimate sites on sexual subjects will be rendered invisible as well. Apparently the filters were clamped on after a recent change in Indian law that greatly expanded criminal liability for publication or distribution of porn. Here, too, Microsoft's justification was of the "when in Rome" variety: "Microsoft is committed to helping advance the free flow of information, and to encouraging transparency, due process and rule of law when it comes to Internet governance. Our products fully comply with Indian laws governing adult content."

And so it goes — a nod to cultural differences here, a bow to business realities there, interspersed with occasional abject kowtowing to authoritarianism, and gradually the concept of a single, truly worldwide Web starts to fracture. I know, it's just a matter of being practical. But it makes you wonder just how outrageous a censorship demand would have to be to get somebody to say no"

Bottom line - the next time we're in danger of letting jingoism get the better of us (happens frequently) we should reflect and perhaps add this to the several things we have to be ashamed and embarrassed about!

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