Tits, porn, and censorship

I've been not updating a lot recently, the reason is here - click on the first links...

The most popular Finnish blog apparently is Marika Fingerroos' net diary at http://www.marikafingerroos.fi/. According to today's DigiToday it ran over its 5 GB monthly transfer limit in 24 hours, proving once and for all that a young beautiful lady who's dating a local celebrity and talks about sex on the internet always draws a crowd. Even if her Caps Lock is permanently stuck, and compound words are difficult at times, fluid, funny, insightful, and intelligent writers are no match to a woman who's proudly showing her D-cups and whether she shaves her pussy or not.

Bitter? Me? Hell yeah.

Today is one of the days that I feel like I should give up on the internet and the general population, and simply stop caring. You see, Norway is planning to make ripping MP3s illegal (which is pretty obviously an idea from internet music stores so that they can sell you another copy of your music), and our own Ministry of Culture wants all public libraries and schools to install Internet filters to "stop the filth" (damn, I must start to use more fucking dirty words to get this blog censored).

Especially the internet filtering thing is so lame it defies any sense: I mean - who do you believe: the filter company which is selling you the filtering software and says "yes, it's possible to filter the internet so that only the bad sites go away", or every independent study that says "no, they Simply Don't Work, they miss a lot of the bad stuff and they censor a lot of good stuff as well". Internet should be treated in the same way as TV currently is - make it the parents' responsibility to watch what their kids are doing. We should have programs that make the browsing habits of the kids clearly laid out for the parents or teachers instead of developing anonymous computer software that decides whether something is good or bad for you. Think about what would happen if a corporation would enforce all filter software makers to filter out all negative feedback about them via some legal loophole? Or worse yet - an aggressive religion or an advertiser? Internet advertising for porn is already all-out to everyone; shouldn't that be filtered out first?

I think the decision to put a major part of childrens' education to the hands of a greedy, faceless corporation that can have strange notions of what is good and proper is a fucking dumb idea.

(And before someone cries foul play - I do believe there is a problem with kids being exposed to material they are perhaps not ready to cope with [or their parents are not ready to cope with]. I'm just saying that this is a decision that should be done by parents and teachers themselves, and that people should develop tools that make it easier to follow what the kids are doing. For example, you could project EtherPEG on the living room wall - knowing that your parents might be watching would probably be a bigger deterrent than the challenge of figuring out how to go around the filtering software... The librarians in Tampere say that internet filth is not an issue with them, as the terminals are in a public space, and there's good adult supervision. Which makes sense.

After all, the kids understand far more about technology, but far less about the content than most adults do. Technology should be developed by the geeks, but the morals should be installed by the parents.

"What about privacy," you may ask? Well... As much as I like privacy, I think it's kinda like a driving license - you have to learn and earn it. And once you are mature enough to know what to do with it, you can go and have your own life. It's an odd construction between a right and a privilege - a bit of both, but not quite neither. And much like you can't drive everywhere you like, you can't expect to have much privacy on a public PC anyway...)

Update: Fabula's call to arms and Kari Haakana's commentary, both in Finnish. READ THEM!




Comments

Panoticon like survailance of online activity is just as bad as outright censorship. How will you be able to find info/support on abusive parents, alcoholic parents, questions about religions, safe sex, sexual orientation and other sensitive issues if anyone can observe your monitor?

--164.8.251.230, 15-Feb-2005


Easy, you just use a browser to find that information. You might get into trouble for doing that, but the fact that you do have access to that information makes it a lesser evil.

With filtering software, you may not even have the choice.

And the fact that anyone can does not mean that everyone would.

I know this is a really difficult issue, but I don't think wild censorship is the answer.

--JanneJalkanen, 15-Feb-2005


Lots to comment on!

First, the pictures: best summed up by the comment

"Taika: Holy fucking cow, Batman."
It looks like you either need a second flat/apartment or an emergency trip to Ikea for storage units.

Next, censorship: People trying to get around rules are smarter than you think. Censorship won't work, your GIF/JPEG monitor won't work, site blockers won't work since there are easy ways to get around it. There is a simple VPN Internet already in place. You run a local VPN client to their network and you can surf anything you want, it's all encrypted to your desktop. It can use port 80, so most firewalls will pass it. The moment they think of a new block, there will be a new detour around it.

For a parent, education and talking to your kids is your only (and best) choice. It's up to you as a parent to do these things to raise your children, not the State. 70% of the laws out there are to protect me from me, censorship, drugs, alcohol, speeding etc. (The other 30% are to allow big companies to scam millions dollars)

Here in the US there was a court demo of the blocking software and they showed that:

  1. it blocked good info
  2. it did not block ALL the bad stuff

Quite frankly if they could create such great blocking software, why does spam mail still exist?

Lastly your comments on Marika Fingerroos' net diary: you're right, if you looked like that, I'd read you every day. (Oh wait, I already do, ummmm....). Don't worry, once the Finnish Ministry of Truth and Pure Things gets done with their blockers, she won't have any more readers.

--Foster, 15-Feb-2005


I cannot believe how easily you would sacrifice privacy. You are practically offering it away for free. To me privacy is a right that need not be earned. It does have a huge number of benefits to supports its legal protection, but it is a right.

10 § Yksityiselämän suoja

Jokaisen yksityiselämä, kunnia ja kotirauha on turvattu. Henkilötietojen suojasta säädetään tarkemmin lailla.

Kirjeen, puhelun ja muun luottamuksellisen viestin salaisuus on loukkaamaton.

Lailla voidaan säätää perusoikeuksien turvaamiseksi tai rikosten selvittämiseksi välttämättömistä kotirauhan piiriin ulottuvista toimenpiteistä. Lailla voidaan säätää lisäksi välttämättömistä rajoituksista viestin salaisuuteen yksilön tai yhteiskunnan turvallisuutta taikka kotirauhaa vaarantavien rikosten tutkinnassa, oikeudenkäynnissä ja turvallisuustarkastuksessa sekä vapaudenmenetyksen aikana.

--164.8.251.230, 15-Feb-2005


Remember, we're talking about kids here. Are you saying that a parent has no right to go through their kids stuff? Are you saying that a parent has no right to check the access logs of the kids account on the computer? Are you saying that an adult may not watch over the kid's shoulder when he's surfing?

Kids are NOT adults, do not possess the same comprehension or skills, and therefore they do not have the same rights and responsibilities as what adults have.

I am NOT throwing away privacy (or in fact, I might, if it were removed from EVERYONE, as transparent society might have some advantages, but that's a completely different discussion). The discussion around privacy would be a LOT easier if some people didn't throw complete fits each time everyone even SUGGESTS that "hey, it might be a good idea to watch what your kids are doing".

Libraries are a different matter: By definition, they are public places, so they do not have the same kind of protection by law as private homes and houses do. You do not cry "privacy" every time you have to check out a book, even though it goes to your permanent computer record. You cry "privacy" if that information is misused for any other purpose than tracking down books that have gone missing.

However, if a library would hire a corporation that would say which books are good and proper AND NEVER PURCHASE THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE, THAT would be bad. That would be censorship.

(And Foster - of course kids can go and circumvent technology. However, they should not be able to crack things like passwords and install VPN software - that would be a serious security issue with any computer. And, if you don't know what your kid is doing, and are slightly computer illiterate yourself, how would you know what to talk about? I see an issue with non-geek parents that have kids that far surpass them in internet literacy, but don't yet have the ability to cope with the things they might see there.)

--JanneJalkanen, 15-Feb-2005


My point was it's my responsibility as a parent to control what my children do, and my best and only tool is education and talking to them. It's not up to and should not be up to the government, libraries, etc. And it should not be up to any electronic thing that is to block them. It's up to me.

Communications is an amazing thing, parents should try it.

Now go clean your room!!!

--Foster, 15-Feb-2005


Foster, we completely agree on this. However, what I suggest that there would be a market for tools that would try and explain to the computer-illiterate adults in a condensed form as to what the kids are really doing in their room.

This is no different from normal adult supervision.

--JanneJalkanen, 15-Feb-2005


Given the choice, would you rather take a kick in the nuts, or a smack in your face? I don't think neither of them is necessary.

Children have a right to privacy, too. Of course small children need more control and supervision, but at a certain age they become interested in things they rather not discuss with their parents, and at that point (which differs a lot depending on the individual) they have a right to their privacy.

In many more restrictive societys (like, say, rural Finland) the net is the only place where (for instance) young people who think they might be homosexuals can find information about different sexual orientations without being stigmatized by their peers, parents and "people of the village". Take away that privacy and you have a lot of sexually repressed people in your hands in ten years. Same can be argued in many other areas of life.

Ultimately, the responsibility is of the parents. The parents should teach the difference between right and wrong, the parents should tell the kids about the unpleasant sides of life they're bound to encounter, the parents should supervise personally what their young children do on the net, and the parents should decide when to trust their kids enough to let them surf unsupervised.

Unfortunately anyone can become a parent without a "test" and there's no legal consequenses for being a "bad parent", except in the most extreme cases. And so, everyone is trying to shift the responsibility to someone else.

--Henri, 16-Feb-2005


Oh yes, you cannot obviously apply the same qualifications to kids aged seven and kids aged sixteen. But as you point out, that is the sole domain of parents (and well, teachers).

I'm just pointing out that there's very little privacy in the libraries anyway, as everyone understands that they are public PCs and it seems to work pretty well. Many people who cannot access the internet at home are able to search for information in libraries, even on things like sex education (which, I hope everyone understands, is as far from porn as ducks are from mice). And this is fine and dandy, and as it should be. Libraries should not have any filtering. Schools - I see some limited use for it (so that kids actually keep on the pages that are the topic, but that's only a temporary, during-the-class kinda thing), but no automatic filtering. At homes, this is ultimately the parent's responsibility - but I think anyone who gives power to corporate-run censorship is stupid. But hey, ain't no law against being stupid...

And as I said earlier, privacy is not a right that's automatic when you are born. You have to grow up to it and show that you are capable of handling it in full, as being an adult does not automatically mean that you are entitled to it: we don't give much privacy to prisoners and mentally ill, do we? (Some, but not much.)

As you point out, the parents should decide when to trust their kids enough. However, if you, as a parent, have as much understanding of the internet as a dog has of a car, then you need to either a) educate yourself in what the internet means and/or b) find a software solution that makes it more understandable to you.

I'm not seeing many solutions either way - there should be courses for adults on "how to let your kids surf safely" (i.e. how to become a better parent wrt internet), and sw solutions that would make it easier to understand what the kid is doing. How about web sites in the style of http://www.screenit.com (which goes a bit overboard, though) where different web services are evaluated?

--JanneJalkanen, 17-Feb-2005


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