FWD: AOL Geographic Censorship

Rohit Khare (khare@pest.w3.org)
Wed, 1 May 96 09:47:25 -0400

Message-Id: <v02120d09ada704b3bd04@[]>
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 1996 14:56:08 -0800
From: jon@worldbenders.com (Jon Callas)
Subject: AOL censors British town's name! (from RISKS)

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 15:28:52 +0100 (BST)
From: Clive Feather <cdwf@cityscape.co.uk>

[Clive forwarded to RISKS an long item from the Computer underground Digest,
Thu Apr 11, 1996, Volume 8 : Issue 29, ISSN 1004-042X, from Doug Blackie
<STEELBEAT@aol.com> that relates an experience Doug had in trying to
register with AOL. He entered his name "Blackie" and his home town
"Scunthorpe", and found that AOL's (indecency-filtering) registration
program would not accept that combination. After various discussions with
the AOL folks in Dublin, he discovered that he could register properly if
he entered the town as "Sconthorpe". As a result of this curious situation,
AOL has announced that the name of the town will henceforth be known as
"Sconthorpe". The entire saga is documented in the Scunthorpe Evening
Telegraph (final edition) of Tuesday, 9 Apr 1996, issue number 30111,
printed and published by Grimsby and Scunthorpe Newspapers Ltd., Telegraph
House, Doncaster Road, Scunthorpe, DN15 7RE, UK. The article was provided
on-line by David G. Bell <dbell@zhochaka.demon.co.uk>, and was included as
a part of Doug Blackie's message. PGN Abstracting.]

- ------------------------------

Date: Thu, 25 Apr 1996 11:10:22 -0700
From: kling@ics.uci.edu (Rob Kling)

[The previous item contributed by Clive Feather touches on some further
serious issues relating to the effectiveness, propriety, and risks
involved in filters that attempt to censor on the basis of linguistic
strings; as other examples, side-effects of filtering "couples"
(RISKS-17.79) and "xxx" (SurfWatch, RISKS-17.81) have been noted in recent
RISKS postings.

Rob Kling is a member of the ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy,
the umbrella organization in ACM for RISKS. He had the following comments
upon seeing the above message; his comments address just a few of the RISKS
issues raised. PGN]

There is a lot of info regarding Scunthorpe obtainable via Alta Vista.
This is a real city and its integrity deserves respect, even if it is
not exactly a place well-known to people in the US. [For example, see
<http://www.computerprint.co.uk/scunthorpe/travel.html and
<http://www.computerprint.co.uk/scunthorpe/history.html .]

I can imagine that there might even be some people with the last name of
Scunthorpe. The willingness of AOL (or other services) to excise identities
in the name of "decency" raises big issues of genuine decency in my view.

Rob Kling

------- Message 2

Message-Id: <v02120d05ada6febdfe59@DialupEudora>
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 1996 15:40:50 -0700
From: tamzen@worldbenders.com (Tamzen Cannoy)
Subject: The Unexonerated Atlas FWD

>Date: Mon, 22 Apr 96 14:54:31 EDT
>From: Larry Stone <lcs@harlequin.com>
>[intercourse, PA has nothing on these..
> from a local discussion on AOL filtering out messages containing
> unfortunate town names...]
>Subject: Re: AOL.COM took the *WHAT* out of "Country?"
>Warning: if Scunthorpe jokes offend thee, pluck out this message now.
>----- Begin forwarded message -----
>Date: Fri, 19 Apr 96 13:46:51 -0700
>From: Peter Langston <psl@wolfenet.com>
>To: Fun_People@wolfenet.com
>Forwarded-by: Dan Tenenbaum <dante@halcyon.com>
>Forwarded-by: Julian Jiggins <julianj@microsoft.com>
>From: Nick Berry
>Having access to a large database of European towns, a couple of queries
>later reveals that 'Scunthorpe' is not the only town in Europe which would
>cause AOL a problem.
>There are the following towns in Europe :
>Cunta, Romania
>Srpski Cunti, Croatia
>Cuntis, Spain
>Prnjavor Cunticki, Croatia
>Looking for other juvenile words, how about '*arse*' ?
><Please close this mail now if easily offended, the examples get worse>
>[He means funnier, I think... -psl]
>A long list, here are a few examples :
>Marseille, France
>Garsere, Latvia
>Harsefield, Germany
>Speaking of Germans, they like their tit's, hundreds of matches including :
>Titz, Germany
>Taltitz, Germany
>Groptitz, Germany
>Burntitz. Germany (Ouch!)
>Alt Pastitz, Germany
>Although Germany is not alone, how about :
>Titov, Macedonia
>Titova, Latvia
>But, Austria takes the biscuit, having not only a town called :
>Fucking, Austria [ 48 deg 03'N 13 deg 51' E ]
>But also
>Unterfucking, Austria
>Oberfucking, Austria
>From: Matthew Arcus <matthew>
>Date: Mon, 22 Apr 96 14:26:30 +0100
>I believe there is a suburb of Berne (or maybe Basle) called Wankdorf.

------- End of Forwarded Messages