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Port Glasgow School Block ‘Yes Scotland’ Campaign Site for Policy Violation

Monday, February 24th, 2014 (8:09 am) - Score 1,039
blocked_yes_scotland

The curse of skin deep Internet filtering (censorship) has struck again after a young pupil studying at St Stephens school in Port Glasgow (Scotland) found that she could access the pro-union website Better Together but was blocked from accessing the pro-independence Yes Scotland one due to a “policy violation” (hehe).

The student, Caitlin Brannigan, is reportedly a supporter of the move for an independent Scotland and was naturally keen to highlight her experiences on Twitter after finding that “Society and Culture sites are blocked” (yes those things are truly evil, we can’t have any of that malarkey now can we..). The concern was promptly picked up by others and caused quite a stir. But in this article we’re more concerned with the failure of such filters than the politically murky Yes / No debate over Scotland’s independence.

At this stage it’s not known whether the filtering was an internal “mistake” (deliberate or accidental) by the School’s IT administrator or a fault with the Internet filtering system provided by their ISP. The Inverclyde Council initially claimed to have fixed the “glitch” but others say it was an issue with the School’s own internal network.

Sadly it has become quite common for incorrect categorisation or mission creep in particular to result in perfectly legal websites being blocked (examples) and the censorship systems used by Schools and Libraries are known to be particularly aggressive (e.g. British Library blocks Hamlet).

In this situation the event has a very strong political dynamic but in others it can result in perfectly acceptable content, such as clothing stores and vital gender or medical information sites, being restricted from view in a way that many would view as being counter-productive.

The outspoken pro-filtering MP, Claire Perry, recently confirmed that the Government (UK) had setup a working group on over-blocking (here) that would try to facilitate a process whereby website owners could understand what their status is and to deliver a white list of websites that will never be blocked (e.g. medical, political, journalism focused sites etc.).

Meanwhile anybody who actually wants to bypass the filters can easily do so and usually with only the most minimal knowledge (a quick Google search for example).

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