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News ::
Boston College Library Has Found A Way to Censor Online Content--Legally? (english)
31 Aug 2003
Modified: 03 Sep 2003
Apparently Boston College Library has a curious new way to censor the Internet, via an apparently "legal" loophole. Will this covert warfare successfully block students from accessing dissenting information? The way the prompts appear, it looks quite camoflauged.
When I tried to directly access some radical websites recently at Boston College's library (http://www.bc.edu/libraries/ )while doing some research, including emperors_clothes.com, I found out about a new technique in the way information is going to be kept from students this fall.

Here is the prompt that appeared first: (A "VirusScan-Internet Filter" alert)
"Access to the following object: auto.search.msn.com has been denied due to possible hostile content"

When I clicked "OK", up came a page with the following text:

"The page cannot be displayed
The page you are looking for is currently unavailable. The Web site might be experiencing technical difficulties, or you may need to adjust your browser settings.

"Please try the following:

"Click the Refresh button, or try again later.

"If you typed the page address in the Address bar, make sure that it is spelled correctly.

"To check your connection settings, click the Tools menu, and then click Internet Options. On the Connections tab, click Settings. The settings should match those provided by your local area network (LAN) administrator or Internet service provider (ISP).
If your Network Administrator has enabled it, Microsoft Windows can examine your network and automatically discover network connection settings.
If you would like Windows to try and discover them,
click Detect Network Settings
Some sites require 128-bit connection security. Click the Help menu and then click About Internet Explorer to determine what strength security you have installed.
If you are trying to reach a secure site, make sure your Security settings can support it. Click the Tools menu, and then click Internet Options. On the Advanced tab, scroll to the Security section and check settings for SSL 2.0, SSL 3.0, TLS 1.0, PCT 1.0.
Click the Back button to try another link.

"Cannot find server or DNS Error
Internet Explorer"


I would have been fooled had I not found this sort of problem a few times before. Immediately I proceeded to my favorite search engine, and was able to access the same page (i.e. emperors_clothes.com ) INDIRECTLY! Going back and trying directly, again, I found the same prompt.

And, of course, "internet options" have been made inaccessible (without a password) on the Boston College Library computers, sooo, it's a fair bet that this situation is either coming directly from the Boston College Administration, or from the federal overseers who wish to have full surveillance freedom without the Library staff being able to warn patrons.

Try checking into this yourself and see if your library computers are doing the same. As for what to do, I am emailing the ACLU and ALA and other 1st Ammendment Library groups. Perhaps a little pressure is all that's needed to bring them back to following their own laws?!
See also:
ice.prohosting.com/~unmediat
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Comments

Please list other websites... (english)
31 Aug 2003
Please list other websites that you have had trouble reaching.
could also be computer problems (english)
02 Sep 2003
umm, hi. this message comes up all the time for all kinds of websites. even ones where the settings haven't been tampered with (for example, my home computer does this when i have a bad connection. sometimes i refresh the page and it's fine. other times i close out of the browser and when i go back online it's fine). this is the message you get when you click on a bad link. if you can get to the website through a search engine instead, like google, then you can be sure that the page has not been blocked. if it was, you wouldn't be able to access it at all, no matter how you got there.

next time try closing the browser and then trying again. or, restart the computer.

in addition, many public computer labs and libraries lock the internet options feature. this is to ensure that people don't download things to the wrong places and is to protect from viruses. it doesn't mean they are being censoring or malicious. it is a lot of work for the workers in these areas to maintain the computers over and over again when users change the settings.

i work at a boston-area college computer space. we lock these settings for these reasons. and we do not censor any sites.
hrmmm, well, I don't buy it because (english)
03 Sep 2003
I've used computers at university libraries all over the country and I've NEVER seen this type of pop-up/prompt. Especially one that works so consistently. Just tried it again, for emperors_clothes.com and the same thing, days later, completely different section of computers, not seeing that pattern at all today before this.

As far as other websites, let's see if I have them with me (I was going down a list checking to see if the sites were still viable):

anarchistparenting.org (which may well be offline)
www.intheheart.net/nonsilent/dudespirit1.html
two others that I noted this problem were anarchist sites, but unfortunately I don't have the notes with me.

Perhaps I'll remember to bring them next time I'm here.