Blocking all explicit material impossible, library official says


The Pittsburgh Post Gazette takes a Look At Filtering. A computer expert yesterday told a County Council subcommittee that is considering legislation to block all pornographic material in Allegheny County's 44 public libraries that even the most sophisticated filters will let images through.

"Most filtering systems are very good at blocking texts and [specific Internet addresses]," said Dan Jude, chief executive officer of Security Software Systems, a Texas-based company. Unfortunately, he said, no technology is available to block sexually explicit graphics and photos.


I guess what I always have issue with is people viewing pornography in a public place. I don't particularly care if they view pornography.

Of course, this is really non-news for most library personnel. I was trying to explain to a newer support staff person the other day why Google images porn is not blocked by our filters... If the kids (and adults) can figure out how to get safe search off, then they can figure out how to get naughty pictures, and there ain't a whole lot we can do about it, except manually redirect them. It is up to the library staff, like it or not.

The only sure way to block all offensive images?

Take the network cable out of the wall.

We cannot possibly send a man to moon either.

Decapitation IS an effective cure for dandruff.

Sending a man (or woman) to the moon is a feat of human-made technology. Filters deal with language, a natural function of the human brain. Believing that human language judgements can ever accurately be replicated by a machine involves believing in the ability to create a true artificial intelligence. Is this, like space travel, a question of just needing more and more and more technology - or is reproducing the functions of a human brain simply an inherant impossibility? (I go for the latter.)Also, remember the old playground game of telephone? Note how this article says that CIPA requires libraries to "to block access to certain Web sites". If only! Plus, it's hardly even worth mentioning that the only stuff CIPA does deal with is explicit images (not text)...Go computer expert!

Maybe they need to use the filters the Chinese are using. Wired article China's Filters Strong, Subtle China's filters can block just specific references to Tibetan independence without blocking all references to Tibet.
The old saw with filters in libraries is that a filter for "breast" would not allow a search for "breast cancer." With the Tibetan example it looks like the Chinese have a fix for this problem.

Wow! It's both a (Score:-1, Troll) AND an oblique cultural reference!

Of course they can block that way. Blocking on that level has been possible for years. It is simply a matter of blocking all sites with phrases instead of words, then assigning values with a threshold for blocking. Phrases such as "free tibet!", "tibetan independence movement", "support the movement", etc would have a high number.

I don't really think we want to copy China's position on intellectual freedom.

Excellent catch, Porch Geese! FZ's testimony ought to be required reading in library school. "I want [my children] to grow up in a country where they can think what they want to think, be what they want to be, and not what somebody's wife or somebody in Government makes them be."

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