Menino smokes a cigar/ steps out of his state-issued car/ and says, "Boys, we need a ban on this site."

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The city of Boston has apparently banned the Boing Boing weblog from its free, city-wide WiFi network.

Boing Boing of course was Ground Zero for blogosphere ridicule of the city's overreaction to the Great Mooninite Scare of '07.

NEXT: The Green Mountain Boys Ride Again

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  1. I knew that title sounded vaguely familiar… down with BoingBoing!

  2. Watch out Hit and Run, you could be next!

  3. Shortly the Boston police will notice the R2D2 mailboxes. Can’t wait for them to arrest the Postmaster General.

  4. Assuming that that network is run by the city, isn’t there a first amendment violation here?

  5. It amazes me that so many of the people who are bend out of shape over Bush & Co. listening in on overseas phones calls to terrorists are the same to push for gov’t controlled internet access. Government controlled internet access that will drive private internet access out of business.

  6. I don’t think so, Deus. The First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law… etc. etc.” meaning that the federal gov’t is restricted in its ability to restrict speech. Most SCOTUS’ have interpreted that to apply to state and local gov’ts as well, but its not a slam dunk.

  7. Hugh:

    Pretty spot on.

    However, this is yet another reason why we should be skeptical of municipal free wi-fi’s. If muni-wifi goes the way of that some states go with services, such as making it illegal to compete with said muni-wifi, you’ll end up with a kind of defacto government censorship.

    It’s one thing for a private company to block sites– even if competition is limited. But for the government to block them, and have the police and legislative powers to eliminate private competition– or make it illegal altogether, it should give us all pause.

  8. We told you! We warned you! Without net neutrality, evil corporations like this City of Boston, Inc. will start banning web sites they don’t like! We need government to step in and protect us from their evil ways! I’m sure that our big noble city governments will lead our way to freedom as they so often do.

  9. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of self-absorbed, oh-so superior bunch of folks. I’ll take Memepool over those arrogant, self-righteous blowhard fucktards any day.

    “Memepool: Boing Boing, with 99% less liberal yammering.”

  10. ah mumbles…the man who put the hack in hack politician…what a maroon…

  11. Its high time for the citizens of Boston to have another party… dress up like ninja warriors (blame the Japanese) and toss the City-owned Wifi radios into the harbor.

    Or maybe it’s just a technical glitch.

  12. Sigh … It’s a just that the site triggered a prohibited phrase in the censorware.

    http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/archives/001190.html

    I ran a copy of the relevant censorware and found why Boing Boing
    got censorware’d by Boston Municipal Wi-Fi.

    Remember: “The phrase “Banned combination phrase found” is a
    characteristic message of the censorware Dan’s Guardian.
    http://www.dansguardian.org/ It seems some combination of words has
    triggered the “isItNaughty” flag (that’s what they call it).

    This is the message that appeared in the server log:

    http://www.boingboing.net *DENIED* Banned combination phrase
    found: google, &safe=off

    It looks like the “Banned combination phrase” was the following
    link, because of the search with SafeSearch set to “off”:

    [more details in full post]

  13. Goddamned Internet filters. I remember the stupid filter at school when I was teaching: no accessing sites with Latin quotes because the word “cum” set off the filter, no accessing sites dedicated to Emily Dickinson because some of her poems talked about Teh Sex. . . in other words, the filter made the Internet largely useless for anyone trying to do the sort of online research you’d expect from an English- or humanities-major type.

    And the alleged purpose of this free wi-fi is to bridge the cybergap ‘twixt rich and poor, I take it? Lovely! So the rich kids can access all the world’s knowledge while researching their term papers, and the poor kids dependent on free wi-fi can access those Latin sites that don’t contain the translation of the word “with.”

    And this wipes out the poor-kid disadvantage how, exactly?

  14. Jennifer, at least you won’t be arrested and sentenced to 40 years if you trip some popup bomb.

    And the alleged purpose of this free wi-fi is to bridge the cybergap ‘twixt rich and poor, I take it?

    Glad you included “alleged.” The real purpose of “free” wi-fi is to provide another essential service the city can hire employees to run and dun taxpayers to pay for.

  15. dj:

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of self-absorbed, oh-so superior bunch of folks. I’ll take Memepool over those arrogant, self-righteous blowhard fucktards any day.

    “Memepool: Boing Boing, with 99% less liberal yammering.”

    Given that Memepool has about 15 posts in the last six months, I think it would be more correct to say “Memepool: Boing Boing, with 99% less content.”

  16. LarryA
    Good point. It’s another example of how our government looking out for us, is just a tool to keep the disenfranchised down. Like the way the FCC is keeping our children safe. Drew Carey made this point exquisitely back in this 1997 Reason interview nyah

    … The government is really into “protecting” people. The FCC says you can’t broadcast certain words and certain pictures. It says it’s protecting citizens. But I’m sitting in my home with DirecTV and can watch whatever I want. I can afford the best pornography–laser-disc porn! The government’s not protecting me from anything.

    All the government’s doing is discriminating against poor people. It thinks poor people are like cows, that poor people can’t think straight: If we let them hear dirty words or see dirty pictures, there’s going to be madness! If you’re poor and all you can afford is a 12-inch black-and-white TV and can’t pay for cable–you’re so protected! You’d probably be happier if you could see some pornography, a pair of titties, once in a while on free TV. But a pair of titties on free TV? The government figures if you saw that, you’d just explode!

    A good point there. I don’t think the link between titties and a free society can be stressed enough.

  17. But a pair of titties on free TV? The government figures if you saw that, you’d just explode!

    Ironically, while the government is leery about the idea of letting you see a pair of tits on television, they generally have no problem with you watching someone explode.

  18. With government largess comes sticky strings.
    We all know that. Move along now.
    Nothing to see here.

  19. Jennifer,

    Is it better for poor kids to have filtered Internet access or none at all? I’m just playing the avocado diaboli, so you can take what I say cum grano salis.

    Crap, I just set off the filter.

  20. FYI: Freedom of speech is covered by the Massachusetts state constitution (and most state constitutions) so whether the national provision applies to the states is irrelevant in this case.

    http://www.mass.gov/legis/const.htm

  21. From what I read the Boston plan was paid for by private money and is managed by a non-profit. Apparently the idea was to drive down cost of broadband service.

    Boston’s proposal aims to reduce the price of broadband Internet access for city residents from an average of roughly $40 a month to $15 by having the nonprofit act as a wholesale seller of network capacity to existing sellers of Internet access. Those companies could offer low-cost or free ad-supported online connections.

    City officials hope that even if some Internet providers don’t participate, they would face pressure to cut prices for the existing services.

    I assume that you could still buy your own service and not deal with filters.

    This did make me think of something funny though. I was heading to Argentina last month and wanted to check out Hit & Run from the Admiral’s Club. Reason was a banned site. It was banned for pornography and hate speech.

  22. Reason was a banned site. It was banned for pornography and hate speech.

    Why does Argentina hate the Pillow Girl?

  23. I wouldn’t worry too much about anything being banned from Boston’s free public Wi-Fi.

    Reason being, of course, that as a resident of boston…I’ve never even seen evidence of free wi-fi.

  24. Live by the gushing for icky-corporation-free wifi, due by the icky-corporation-free wifi.

  25. no accessing sites with Latin quotes because the word “cum” set off the filter,

    Jennifer, so you’re into those hot Latin sites too. I always loved the women from south of the border. They got that hot latin blood. Woof! Don’t get me started…

  26. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of self-absorbed, oh-so superior bunch of folks.

    That is “damaged justice” indeed.

  27. My fianc?e is an elementry school principal.
    She wanted to expose some of the brighter students to Chess on the internet, but the School district filter blocked any reference to Chess…..(Chest?)

  28. Jennifer’s post reminds me that Boston’s best public prep school is Boston Latin School. So good luck to the Boston Latin students trying to do some web research for their required Latin classes.

  29. the real purpose of “free” wi-fi is to provide another essential service the city can hire employees to run and dun taxpayers to pay for.

    my understanding has been that free wi-fi initiatives are done by RFP’s where private industries actually run & maintenance the network. the city’s role is in providing access to public assets for establishing points for the network (traffic poles, public building rooftops, street lamps, emergency towers, etc.)

    at least in RFPs i have seen, one of the requirements of successful proposals is that the service would cost nothing to the city. so it is not necessarily seen as an essential service requiring taxes and employees.

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