It's all in how you define "spam"
Posted by aogFriday, 10 March 2006 at 08:19 TrackBack Ping URL

Instapundit is going on about American companies selling “censorship technology” to China. I understand the concern here, but it’s not clear to me that this is a reasonable complaint, in the sense of being able to do something about it.

The fundamental issue is that there is no technological difference between censorship and network security. Both are defined by the concept of allowing only authorized use of a network. The only difference is the particular definition of “authorized”. If you want to allow legitimate businesses and private individuals to control access to their own computers, then you are endorsing the technology of censorship.

For another exampe, I haven’t been posting much lately because I have been slinging big code for some of my Movable Type plugins. One of those projects is anti-junk protection, to protect my weblogs against abuse. In effect, I am censoring the people who want to post to my weblogs, deciding who is legitimate and who is abusive. That’s no different than what the ChiComs are doing, they just define “spam” a bit differently than I do.

But, you say, there’s a big moral difference between shutting down massive floods of comments advertising hard core pornography and shutting down dissenters from the oppressive ChiCom regime in China. Well, yes. But it’s purely a moral difference, not a technological one. One should note, also, that a big part of the problem is the very limited private property in China, which makes the deployment of (somewhat) effective network censorship possible.

Personally, it doesn’t concern me very much. If the technology didn’t exist, then the ChiCom’s network censorship would be 100% effective — nothing is more secure than a non-existent network. The argument, therefore, is that network technology isn’t a perfect means of allowing free communications, that the ChiComs can to some extent restrict it. Yet, overall, the existence of computer networks in China does greatly loosen the ability of the ChiComs to control information and that’s good. So, those companies that Instapundit is whining about have, in the big picture, aided the forces of liberal democracy. Let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
cjm Friday, 17 March 2006 at 16:59

this comment is an attempt to jump start your blog:) hopefully you are just too busy to post.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 17 March 2006 at 18:11

Oh, yeah, it’ll probably be another week or two before I have time to work on this again.

I did get my Webiki plugin fully updated, tuned my anti-junk filters and have been looking at changing how trackbacks are handled to make them more junk resistant. I did some actual work as well. Plus, SWIPIAW went out Tuesday and got a puppy.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 17 March 2006 at 18:45

As I’ve worked with my junk defenses, I have sometimes netsearched for the keywords used in that junk. I have yet to find one of them that has succeeded in penetrating a search engine. One is left wondering why they are bothering. Could it be that the field has advanced enough that the easy money is gone and the initial winners are now making money off the after-peak suckers who pay for “systems” that no longer work?

cjm Saturday, 18 March 2006 at 13:37

are you just doing plug-ins for existing blog products, or are you working upto an entire blog product yourself ?

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 18 March 2006 at 14:07

Just plugins for Movable Type.

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