Eveline Lubbers on 7 Sep 2000 23:18:50 -0000

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<nettime> Foil the Filters Contest

MEDIA RELEASE: For immediate release
Contact: Bobson Wong (1-201-928-4378, bwong@dfn.org) or Alan Brown
(1-201-928-4365, abrown@dfn.org)

Contest Challenges Net Users Worldwide to Find Flaws in Filtering Software

NEWARK, N.J., September 7, 2000 - The Digital Freedom Network's "Foil The
Filters" contest is under way, and entrants are encouraged to search high
and low - sometimes very low - to trip up Internet censorware.

"The purpose of the contest is to have a little more fun with something
whose greatest accomplishment is as an object of ridicule. It's the
Corvair of programming," said DFN Internet Development Director Alan Brown
of censorware. Different types of filtering software are used across the
Internet in attempts to regulate content, but its failure is typical and
often hilarious.

"Filtering software is a poor substitute for human judgment. Fortunately,
totalitarian governments like China's haven't figured that out yet," said
DFN Executive Director Bobson Wong.

DFN was alerted to one instance where a person's online comments were
blocked because of the phrase "who reports." Censorware was to blame: it
had detected the word "whore" in the first letters and blocked the

This contest, open to all, encourages Web surfers to take to the Internet
and test sites, chat communities, and bulletin boards to uncover the most
ridiculous examples of censorware failure. DFN is looking for examples
both of phrases (including names) which pass through filtering software
but shouldn't and of phrases which the filtering software would like to
stop but can't.

Sherril Babcock's case is a classic example. One Web site's filtering
software prevented the Los Angeles attorney from entering the site last
month with her real name because it detected the word "cock"; but the
censorware did nothing when she successfully registered as "Babpenis" days

"Foil the Filters" entries can either be e-mailed to contest@dfn.org or
submitted via a Web form at http://dfn.org/Alerts/censorware.htm . The
contest ends September 25, 2000.

Memorable entries will be posted on the DFN Web site and winners will be
awarded prizes, including souvenirs from towns with names banned by
blocking software, like Scunthorpe, and works by censorware-banned
writers, including Emily Dickinson and e.e. cummings. Many censorship
snafus will be post ed on the DFN Web site as the contest progresses, with
winners announced during Banned Books Week at the end of September.

The Digital Freedom Network (DFN) promotes human rights around the world
by developing new methods of activism with Internet technology and by
providing an online voice to those attacked simply for expressing
themselves. DFN creates Internet applications to fight censorship,
acquires technology t ools for other activists, launches Internet-based
campaigns on behalf of human rights, and serves a s a technical resource
for activists worldwide. DFN's Web site is http://dfn.org.

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