Teaching Iranians About Free Speech


Reader Rick Barton passes along a funny story from New Scientist:

A web-proxy service set up by the US government's International Broadcasting Bureau to enable websurfers in Iran to evade censorship is itself massively censoring what they can see.

That is the conclusion of an independent new report released from the OpenNet Initiative, an international collaboration between researchers at the University of Toronto, Harvard University and the University of Cambridge….

"This simply looks at the domain name", says Jonathan Zittrain of Harvard Law School, a coauthor of the report, and filters out any that contain words on a banned list.

One banned word is "ass", which blocks some pornography sites but also blocks the sites "usembassy.state.gov" and "www.grass-roots.org", says the report. Other words include "breast", "bush", "gay", "hot", "my", "old", "pic", "soft", "teen", "trans" and "tv". "They might as well filter every fifth website," says Zittrain.