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** sighs **

Posted by | Posted in Gym, Technology | Posted on 08-12-2008

Devastating news – I’ve lost my gym trainers. I went hunting for them this morning, expecting to find them in the fridge or something, but I did’nea find them. I’m thinking that I left them at the gym on Thursday, so I’m going to pop down tonight and have a hunt round for them. Anyone in their right mind would just stay well away from them if I did actually leave them there, so hopefully they wont have gone walkies. I think I need some new ones anyway, and as I’ve got a four-day weekend starting on Thursday, I think a trip out shopping is in order. While I’m there, I should probably get a few last Christmas prezzies too.

I woke up this morning and was reliably informed that Wikipedia has had to censor a picture that depicts an album cover of some sort, because there are fears that it implies certain levels of child abuse. Fair enough, I would be saying, if the picture wasn’t already 30 years old and freely viewable in plenty of other places.

Gary McKinnon, a renowned UK hacker, is due to be shipped off to the USA to be charged with criminal activities involving hacking into NASA computers, among other things. But people over here in the UK have decided that he shouldn’t be handed over to the US authorities, because he faces up to 70 years in jail for his crimes. Personally, if I were the US government, I’d get him over there and offer him a job in IT security, and use what he knows to help protect the US infrastructure against similar hacking methods. But of course, Americans being what they are, they want blood. They could put his skills to much better use for the good of the nation, but instead they want to lock him up for a crime that caused no significant damage, but revealed a number of vulnerabilities that he could be used to help plug. If that’s the case (and it is) then I’m with the rest of them who want to keep him here. If nothing else, he could help us.

Oh, and before I forget, it’s looking like the weekly UKTA Radio session is going ahead as planned. Tune in at 7pm GMT!

UPDATE: Well, well, well. It seems that slightly more is going on with the whole “wikipedia filtering” thing than meets the eye. Not only is the controversial image blocked for some UK residents, but according to ZDNet it’s a nationwide ISP-level proxy block. Bit-Tech also reported the news, with links to the Wikipedia editor’s entry itself.

I’m not quite sure what’s going on myself. Personally, I can still access the Wikipedia entry containing the image, but around 95% of UK residents cant. From what I can make out, it’s not so much the fact that the entry is blocked that’s causing the anger, but the fact that nobody thought to tell anyone that it was happening. At the very least, users like to know that they’ve been filtered, rather than being shown a fake 404 or 403 error.

Personally, I’m against the banning of anything on the internet. Not because there aren’t things that shouldn’t be seen by people, but because people should be able to decide for themselves what they do and don’t want to see. I suppose that’s easier said than done, when you take into account how many weirdos and sickos there are out there, but the founding principles of the net are based on freedom of speach and freedom of information. To start filtering the internet would be to start turning the country into a second China. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Great Firewall of China.

There are, indeed, some gruesome and (probably) illegal things being banded around the internet. But all weirdos aside, I think the majority of people should be trusted to keep things civil and legal. Take the beheading of that guy a few years ago; I actually forget his name now, so apologies for that – but the video of his beheading was put onto the internet – a first at the time, I believe. Now even though that video is freely available, I chose not to watch it, despite living in a house with three other mates who all saw it, and who all urged me to watch it. To be honest, I thought that that is exactly want those barbarians wanted, and so I didn’t watch it out of defiance. But still, had it not been shown for any other reason than simply to show the effects of a beheading, I still wouldn’t have watched it. I’m just not that interested in severed human heads.

I, for one, hope this uproar about censorship creates enough of a storm to actually lift the ban. If not, then this is just the beginning. Soon enough, ISPs will be telling us what we can and cant see on the internet, instead of letting us decide for ourselves. The internet was founded on freedom of information, but for ISPs to start telling us what we can and cant see is for them to take away what so many people hold dear about the net.

It’s not as if the average browser is anonymous as it is, so why the filtering? If someone chooses to break the law, then there are ways to find them and catch them in the act. But why should the rest of us suffer because a few people cant be trusted to browse the net without mal-intent?

Not a happy bunny, I are.

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