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Censorship Your Rights Online

German Publishers To Use Sniffers to Censor Web 135

Posted by michael
from the you-thought-it-couldn't-be-done dept.
Anonymous Coward writes "The IDG News Service reports the industry "is proposing a system to detect illegal content on Web sites, and block access to those sites via German ISPs." The blocks would be installed at "key Internet junctions" that would disallow access to the offending sites. Andy Müller-Maguhn at the Chaos Computer Club is quoted in the story, and calls the scheme absurd." This scheme has been floated before - looks like it's going full speed ahead.
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German Publishers To Use Sniffers to Censor Web

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    So big deal. Just get someone to setup a proxy in the Free World that lets you connect to it via SSL. Everything goes over the SSL connection, the proxy goes and gets the real pages, and the Reichstag is none the wiser.
    You mean sites like safeWeb.com? [safeweb.com].
  • Viewing pornography perhaps doesn't hurt the viewer, but the person who is performing the pornography is often forced into the situation due to lack of money/lack of education about alternatives.

    And you would deny them the option they have chosen? If a lack of education is the cause of the problem, isn't better education the obvious solution?

    --

  • Whoa, dude, you mean there's filez so 'l33t that I can get blowed up real good just by reading the bomb-making instructions, and get high by reading the drug formulae?

    Yeah man, Neal Stephenson wrote a book [amazon.com] about it..

  • Someone will comeup with a way on how to get around this. Is funny to what lengths people will go to get free stuff. I will be suprise if the german people allows this to happen. Well we just have to wait and see
  • it's not that difficult to get permission to
    own firearms in germany (especially if you are into sport shooting or hunting),
    it's just next to impossible to get permission
    to wear a loaded gun in public

    and by comparing german and u.s. death statistics
    i tend to like the scheme
  • Libel actually usually is legal. It's as legal as selling someone near boiling coffee, or leaving the top off a swimming pool with no fence, and letting kids play in it.

    However, you can be sued for it.

    -David T. C.

  • I can't believe so many people thought you were serious.

    -
  • Here in the US we only use our sniffers for inhaling cocaine.
    --Shoeboy
  • by Teun (17872)
    Indeed, I can show you two near-identical versions of a perfume advert, one taken from a British mag and the other from a US publication.
    On the US one the hint of aureole that was visible through the girls' T-shirt has miraculously disappeared....
    What we in Europe consider life's essence is an abomination in the eyes of many US citizen.
  • does this system block his IP or his block of IP's, does it block the entire domain
    That's one of the problems of filtering software, I was recently using a computer of Amerada Hess, the oil company, to access my (web based) e-mail. When I typed in the adress of my provider xs4all.nl I got the message that "this site is inappropriate according to the standards set by the company"....
    xs4all is one of the most reputed ISP in the world so what made this silly machine think it should be banned, the combination of X and S in the name maybe?
    Or was it the fact that the wel-known journalist Karin Spaink [xs4all.nl] has her Scientology-critical site hosted by xs4all and is the blocking software infiltrated by Scientology?
  • WARNING: Do Not Feed the Trolls!
  • I realize that this system is mostly for blocking MP3s, but it raises the interesting question of Internet censorship in Germany. Germany has tight restrictions on the display and distribution of Nazi propaganda and symbols. I suppose the idea is that Nazi Germany was such a murderous, hateful place that the government must do everything it can to stop Nazism from ever returning. Yet don't Internet filter systems strike anyone as similar to Nazi book burnings? I'm not trying to be a sensationalist, but think about it: first Germany blocks Nazis, child porn and MP3s, then some fringe cult groups, then "subversive" individuals, then who knows what? It's the classic slippery slope. I think the nearly unstoppable nature of the Internet will force Germany (and many other countries) to examine its ideas about censorship. Ultimately the objectionable information will always be available to the most determined individuals. Is the best way to stop hate trying to filter it, thereby forcing it underground, or exposing it to the light of the day, where it will shrivel and die?
  • I think this happens by creating music that can only exist on the 'net. For example, algorithmic music which dynamically checks the local weather or your company's stock price, and changes the audio to fit. Or music that involves humans and agents interacting over the Internet, using the latencies between participants as an integral part of the performance.

    Look as Les Paul -- both the electric guitar and the multitrack tape recorder (his two big inventions) had this level of impact on music. I think the Internet has at least one or two tricks up its sleeve that will have the same level of impact on making music differently.

  • by Fruit (31966)

    Well blocking www.pr0n.com would be pretty easy, especially since SSL host keys depend on the domain name.

  • Viewing pornography perhaps doesn't hurt the viewer, but the person who is performing the pornography is often forced into the situation due to lack of money/lack of education about alternatives.

    Watching Friends, while perhaps "mindwarping", will not kill


    No, but I would imagine that a fair few people involved in creating it are "forced into the situation due to lack of money".

    Capitalism is going to have real problems if 'people only do that to make money' becomes a reason to make things illegal.
  • Not only that, but the pipe bombs in Columbine didn't work. When I was a kid we got our bomb-making instructions from government documents at the library and they worked.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.
  • Viewing pornography perhaps doesn't hurt the viewer, but the person who is performing the pornography is often forced into the situation due to lack of money/lack of education about alternatives.

    You know, hauling garbage for a living is dirty and dangerous (and in NYC at least, more likely to bring you into contact with organized crime), and people are more or less ALWAYS forced into the situation due to lack of money and education, but I don't hear you recommending that we outlaw garbage.

    And judging by the cast of "Friends", I'd say that it appears to push the actors into drug use and eating disorders, both of which can kill. So then you'd be in favor of banning it, right?



    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • > > The censor must actually go to the original
    > > site to see what the content looks like.

    > If the site uses https, then all the sniffer
    > sees is that somebody accessed that site.
    > But not the exact path of the contents,
    > because the request is encrypted as well!

    That's certainly true, but it's not the point. What the sniffer sees when the censor goes to the original site is not relevant, because the censor goes to the original site by hand. The censor can cut and paste the URL from his browser into the list of URLs to block. In cases like this, the sniffer is only a factor when attempting to detect mirror sites, automatically. And thwarting these attempts at automatically detecting mirror sites is where SSL can be most helpful.

    Your search engine idea may, indeed, be a way that the censor could attempt to regain the upper hand. A search engine could be set up to speak SSL, and search mirror sites for offensive material. The sniffer idea would still be defeated for scanning content, but could be used to capture addresses for SSL sites that could be searched for forbidden content. The next step would be for the good guys to attempt to characterize the IP addresses used by the bad guys (the censors) to conduct the searches. Perhaps a list of censor operated search engines could be used to let mirror sites send phony content.

    An additional step that the good guys could take occurs to me. If we knew what the censors were searching for, we could replace specific words in the forbidden documents on the mirror sites with graphical images of those words.

    Adrian

  • Not quite then end, I suspect. I'm guessing that to sniff traffic for offensive content, the censor must actually go to the original site to see what the content looks like. (The article is sparse, but the phrase "Rights Protection" suggest to me that copyright violations may be part of the motivation for this scheme.) This initial build of the sniffing filter rules for a particular file will probably be done, at least in part, by hand, and adding the URL in question to the list is easy to do by hand, even if the retrieval of the original offensive copy is encrypted by SSL.

    It is, I think, precisely the possibility of mirror sites that makes the idea of sniffing additional traffic for evidence of other copies of the content seem interesting.

    I won't be so bold as to suggest that this is now the end of the story, but I submit that we are, at least, closer to the end.
    8-)

    Adrian

  • Actually, another thought occurs to me. What if someone sent a forged stream of TCP packets by the sniffer that made it look like illicit content was coming from something like "www.departmentofstate.gov" and other prominent sites, and started making their system filter out all sorts of good content. It sure seems like ways like this will be found to make the censors look stupid.

    Adrian

  • Imagine, it occured to them (Several of them being victims of the regime theirselves).

    Information is aviable, but only for educational purpose.
    Propaganda and misinformation is what they fear.

    But I think, it's getting a bit off-topic.
  • Problem solved...

    Or will they ban those as well once the record industry gets a clue? If yes, then this case has far more chilling implications in Germany than simply stopping pirated music.

    What's next on the slippery slope? Checking the actual bits that flow across the net for MP3 headers? (after all, the record industry says that nearly all MP3s out there are illegal; who cares about inconveniencing a handful of law abiders who just want to distribute their own works in this format) And then ban encryption once people start doing that?

    Once again, it potentially is a never ending arms race that benefits none.

  • Did I read the first paragraph right?
    Germany's record-manufacturing companies want to use block and tackle technology to sniff illegal music downloads from the Internet.

  • Oh, I was assuming that someone is trying to host prohibited content within Germany. I guess you're assuming that it's hosted outside Germany, in which case anonymyzing proxies would actually bypass the system.
  • Don't expect politicians to ever understand free software. After all, less money to the industry means less money in their pockets.

    - Steeltoe
  • Because of the nature of SSL server cannot virtual host SSL so they will never have to worry about blocking multiple sites based on IP.

    Sure they have to! At least Verio allows you to use their SSL certificate if you don't want to install your own one. And just because one Verio customer places "indecent" material on their servers, *I* wouldn't want to have *my* SSL pages blocked because they are hosted by Verio and happen to use the Verio certificate. (Mind you, we installed our own one ...)

    -Martin

  • On a smaller scale it is easy to prevent computers from successfully scanning a portion of the web because it is easy to provide instructions on how to access a web page so that humans can easily and quickly follow those instructions, but it is very hard for computers to follow the instructions.

    For example, you can have a surfer follow instructions such as "enter the first letter of each word in this sentence and we will let you through to our Humans only web site". The answer is easy for humans and hard for computers because language understanding is a hard problem.

    Note that the answer must contain sufficiently many bits of information so that it is hard to get it right by trying out all answers.

    Work like this is being done at Carnegie Mellon University, but I cannot find any links to it right now. Maybe if a couple of hundred of you harrass this person [cmu.edu] he might agree to write a little slashdot article about it.

  • These sniffer boxes are just online policemen, but unbiased because they are automated. Nobodies freedom is being curtailed but the lawbreakers.
    Ever heard of due process? Ever heard of innocent until proven guilty? When was the last time you let the cops raid your house without a warrant? I know, non sequiter but damn, man, censorship sucks. Say this sniffer filters on words such as "firebomb". Then suppose there's a site online that happens to use that word in a context that has nothing to do with illegal acts. How is an automated bot gonna differentiate? Rich
  • It can't be done, the German government is oppressive, there are technical details (holeholeholehole, wow, they're dumb!)...

    60 some years ago, a bunch of people fell asleep at the board, and millions of people died. I don't think this is about MP3z or oppressive government, I just think they're scared shitless about it happening again. We (America) have never truly suffered. (oh no, a bunch of us don't have jobs, what will we do? oh no, we have to pay several cents more for gas, what will we do? oh no, they're taxing our tea but we don't get any say in their government, what will we do? bullshit, that doesn't count.) I don't think it's right for us to criticize the solution because we don't fully understand the problem domain.
    --
    Peace,
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • Plus slashdot readers from germany won't be able to see goatse.cx anymore.

  • > What is to stop someone from mirroring the sites?

    Nothing / Noone. 'They' will just block the mirrors which will be mirrored which will be blocked...

    > Sounds like this could balloon quickly out of proportion...

    'They' don't care. They'd like to build 'internet-borders' around every country (just read this today, somewhere...).

    alhague
  • Dr. Prakash Kothari wrote: Let's face it, no one has a legitimate need to view pornography or bomb making schematics or the formulas for illicit drugs. These materials offer no benefit to society and pose a signifigant threat if the wrong person gets hold of such information.

    Hey Doc, the danger is not in banning things like pr0n and bomb instructions, the danger is the possibility that those who make descisions for you decide that other things serve no good purpose... like WTO protest sites, the Green or Libertarian party sites, other political dissidents, or, I don't know, Indian people, you know they're such a bad influence.

  • If this kind of thing continues, I could see, there being a real need for public proxy servers running in non-censoring countries, so that people can get around the blocking software in the censored contries.

    Its funny how there really isn't any way of totally blocking information on the internet... Damn the man.

  • Booya.. Proxy it up baby!
  • That's the simpliest solution. Uh oh, I forgot, then those behind the software wouldn't get their money. But then again, isn't it for the good? It may sound like a troll, but it makes as much sense logically as what's proposed. After all, if there's no music, the problem described is solved.
  • These sniffer boxes are just online policemen, but unbiased because they are automated. Nobodies freedom is being curtailed but the lawbreakers.

    And you've just stated the problem. Much of law is based upon intent. That's determined by REAL policemen, prosecutors, courts, and juries (grand and otherwise) every day. You sniffer determines intent and guilt without any of the above. In the U.S, the Supremes might have a tad bit of a problem. (And If I had an ISP, I sure wouldn't want the liability in THAT case.) I agree that the internet is not above the law. I also agree that the law, those who enforce it, are equally not above the law when it comes to the internet.

  • Actually , it's Shepherd not Shepard. Also the German term for the training of working police/civilian service type shepherds is "Schutzhund", roughly "Protection Dog"

    What would a tracedump smell/look like from one of these sniffing pooches ?
  • If this scheme really will be implemented, that would be the best promotion for cryptographically secured peer to peer messaging.
    For maximum irony the P2P implementations would be using code from GPG, as it has been substancively sponsored by the German Gov.
  • Ideas against the state.

    Thoughts of emmigrating.

    JonKatz.

    --
  • Maybe... but that's still not a good soltion, simply because:
    • Few sites run SSL. Try this link [slashdot.org] - does it work? No - because Slashdot doesn't have SSL capabilities (at least, yet).
    • As someone else pointed out, just the fact you are trying to connect to www.hotnastyporn.com can set off the filter and stop you.
    • Someone else suggested SafeWeb [safeweb.com] - the question then becomes "do they block SafeWeb IPs?" Given US laws like the DCMA, if enough people decide that getting around "access controls" is wrong, it's not entirely implausible for the gov't to block.

    Basically, the only really plausible way to get around the filters isn't SSL from the sites, it's using services like SafeWeb. And then you block those services...


  • German Shepard Sniffers to Punish Those Censoring Web.

    Anonymous Coward writes "The IDG (International Dog Grooming) News Service reports "is proposing a system to detect illegal drug content on Web sites, and block kennel access to those sites via German Shepard ISPs.(internet sniffing pooches)" The flea block Collars would be installed at "key Internet junctions" that would disallow access to the offending sites. Andy Müller-Maguhn at the Chaos Kennel Club is quoted in the story, and calls this post absurd." This joke has been floated before - looks like it's going full speed ahead.
  • Bad speling.

    --

  • Not only that, but Michelangelo made the David, not da Vinci.
  • Hi, I've just taken a quick look at thier website, and they are as friendly as to provide the mail of the responsible person [mailto]. Feel free to drop him a note, saying how wrong he is doing such a thing.
    --
  • Laws are made by people, some none more grown up than the adolescent masses. They are also made by special interest groups.

    I don't know about Germany, but in the US the constitution was written in order to protect the right of few from the vocal majority (or minority, as the case may be)

    If you accept everything that is written in the law books, you should turn yourself to the authorities for almost any sexual act save the missionary position. In many places in the US, the law still says oral sex is illegal.

    Let me see...

    San Francisco: Persons classified as "ugly" may not walk down any street. (we should enforce this one)

    Seattle: "You may not carry a concealed weapon that is over six feet in length"

    Washington state law: All lollipos are banned

    Iowa state law: you may not kiss for more than five minutes

    Iowa state law: a man with a moustache may not kiss a woman in public

    Ohio state law: it is illegal to get a fish drunk

    Oklahoma state law: you can be fined or arrested for making ugly faces at a dog

    Oklahoma again: it is illegal to have sex before marriage

    Oregon state law: it is illegal to whisper dirty things in your lover's ear during sex.

    etc.. etc.. etc..

    ---
    Slashdotters are so enamored with the fact that they can post, that they don't stop and think if they should.
  • "Ve Vant Your Papers"

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.
  • I totally agree with that comment. Encryption is your friend =) Besides, since when does censoring change anything ? In my opinion it just drives things underground. More importantly: how does the german public react to this is what I'd like to know. Any german readers who care to share ? Kind regards,
  • For example, filtering out porn is simple enough. That's why there's so many companies that do it. It is a simple matter to accurately filter out pornography

    No.

    It's really quite difficult to accurately filter porn. Many companies do it, but none that I am aware of do it well and accurately. Yes, Felix Frankfurter knew porn when he saw it, and so do I, and no doubt you do too (and we might even mostly agree about when we're seeing it). But that's because we're people, and people are very good at pattern recognition.

    Computers don't do pattern recognition especially well, and there's not a porn filter in existence that doesn't have an intolerable error rate.

    I once worked at a major system vendor. One day they installed a porn filter. Bingo - no access to the X/Open web site!

  • I'm trying to imagine why an association of German record manufacturers would want to block the CoS, and I'm coming up blank..... :-)

    The article says that they're blocking illegal content (in this case pirated MP3s), as opposed to objectionable content. If there's a slippery slope here, it has to do with the general notion of making some actions illegal. That's a slippery slope that societies have been working with since the dawn of civilization.

    So the answer to your question is: it stops at the line between legal and illegal, and that has nothing to do with the internet. It's an ongoing debate in any democratic society.

    FWIW, the legal status of pirated MP3s is just as murky in Germany as it is here.

  • Cellphone freqs? Being able to hear those is pretty useless in Europe, as GSM is digital and encrypted. Usage of analog cellphones is very minimal.
  • among German leaders, that if no-one is allowed access to information about Nazi times, they might miss new attempts to do the same kind of thing?
  • Regardless of the moral and legal implications of this plan, it sounds technically infeasible.

    * First, consider the problem of blocking data coming through proxies based outside Germany. I suppose the RPS would have to block all such proxies, *if* they can be found

    * Second, the proposal to filter by URL and return a human-readable reply in response to surfing an illegal site (a nice dialog box) seems to imply that filtering would have to be done through a transparent HTTP proxy. Such a proxying service would be extremely resource-intensive and might
    cause unexpected problems if the transparency is not perfect.

    * Third, there are a variety of countermeasures that site maintainers can take to make it difficult for an automated sniffer to discover illegal content, or, having done so, to properly block just those sites. A simple countermeasure would be to discover the domain or IP block that hosts the sniffers, then deny HTTP requests from that source.

    I suppose this scheme might be good enough to discourage casual downloads by the majority of people. It might even be socially acceptable, provided it doesn't cause problems for unblocked sites. However, anyone who cares enough to work around the blocks (which is likely equivalent to the set of people who put up with trawling Napster and Gnutella today) can do so. Not much of a contender in the online arms race, methinks.

    Of course, if one only intends to enforce the ban selectively...
  • The automated systems will work for the Record Comapanies, enforcing a record companies idea of what's illegal, and what is not. Naturally, this idea may conflict with what society wants, needs, and has agreed upon.

    Corporate control and corporate censorship all utimately benifit a corporation's income-- not the needs, desires and ideals of society. In other words, if a population suffers from censorship imposed by a democratic governemnt, they can work to remove or adjust such a regime. They cannot do that with similar controls imposed by a corporation...
  • As luck would have it, a new version of this [jmarshall.com] was released today.

    But certainly, even in the presence of such technical workarounds, we must directly confront what the German publishers are doing. It's always better to have the law on your side than to have their guns pointed at you.

  • This is not a legal proposal, but simply a crybaby corporate desiderata, from an industry that is unable to conceive means of competing in the digital age.

    Of course, in a corrupt legal environment such as the one in the US, such crybaby wants pass, but not in a civilized european country such as Germany, which, in any case, has to answer to a higher legal authority, the European Union.

    --

  • I'd also add that views or what is right and wrong change. Right now looking at xyz type of content may seem immoral but ten years from now may seem very normal. This happens all the time and can be easily noticed by checking out how music, movies, television commercials, etc have changed in the past couple decades. What will be the effect when we have a technological block in place that is now keeping us from viewing what was once considered immoral but is now perfectly okay? What if a generation of children not allowed to view copyrighted works online grows up and abolishes copyright laws as a solution. Will we have to pay these companies, tech consultants, etc to go back through and modify these programs and their rule books? This sounds like a useless tax on our society. Could we ever be sure to totally reverse the effects? The only winners sounds like the companies that sell the software.

    You might think that you don't care if people are blocked into your moral view for the forseeable future despite popular opinion at the time but keep in mind the blade swings both ways. What if next year right after you get this law in place the popular opinion is very different from yours and the rules the software is given are not at all what you'd hoped for but rather quite different.

    For example suddenly you find you can't access your childs homepage on their school site because the reading list includes thumbnails of the books your child has read. What happens if your church web site is suddenly blocked because you have a background image or song clip (innocently) taken from someone elses Bible site? If these sites are blocked by software rules it may be hard to get them unblocked even if you adjust the sites to fit the current laws. Do you really want to risk such problems or impose such problems on other people?
  • how many invocations of Godwin's Law on this? anyone? :)

    "If ignorance is bliss, may I never be happy.
  • The law is NOT above human rights. Where the law contradicts human rights, the law shall not prevail and shall be moot, pointless, and totally irrelevant.

    Now whether a law prohibiting something on the internet contradicts human rights is another issue. And it is difficult to work out because, who decides? The same stupid power-mongering politicians who made the bad law in the first place? I don't think so.

  • Different countries (and people) can have different ideas about what constitutes porn in the first place - for example, naked woman-breasts aren't considered pornographic across much of europe (and naked saggy-man-breasts are hardly pornographic, just unpleasant) - but run them by a fundamentalist muslim or christian, and see what happens.
  • If you block all traffic to a specific site then SSL doesn't help. Because of the nature of SSL server cannot virtual host SSL so they will never have to worry about blocking multiple sites based on IP.

    SSL would prevent them from blocking individual URLs because they can't read the HTTP request. You can always get around any filtering system using a proxy that supports SSL (unless they block all proxies...) but Joe Consumer is probably not going to figure that out.

    One interesting aspect of SSL, is that it can be used to tunnel any data, not just HTTP request (see this [jonathanclark.com]) so you could use it to access Napster servers.

  • I wonder if Traci Lords movies are filtered. After all, Traci Lords films are legal in Germany, when she was doing them at the tender age of 16. Yet in the USA, it's considered K I D D I E P O R N
  • > But two of the three things you listed (bomb-making schematics and the formulas for drugs) have the real possiblity of killing the participent, or others around the participent.

    Whoa, dude, you mean there's filez so 'l33t that I can get blowed up real good just by reading the bomb-making instructions, and get high by reading the drug formulae?

    Where's the URL? I gotta get me some of those!

    Last time I read about bombs, the textfile just sat there on the screen waiting for me to scroll through it. Nothin' else happened.

  • >60 some years ago, a bunch of people fell asleep at the board, and millions of people died. I don't think this is about MP3z or oppressive government, I just think they're scared shitless about it happening again.

    So are a lot of people, which is why we're opposing the German government's boneheaded move.

  • There's an easy answer to this. The mirror sites can require access through SSL. The content would be encrypted, and the sniffers wouldn't be able to read it.

    Adrian

  • That means that they keep track of the websites ...

    Finnaly we can give those DDoS attachs a reall victim :)

    (just imagine how fast ISP's going to dump this shit, if their computers spend ages checking this stupid lists ! )


    Samba Information HQ
  • I'd hate to be the guy who has to sniff all of the goatse.cx links on slashdot. Those have to smell horrible.

    All your dangifiknow [dangifiknow.com] are belong to us.
  • > The censor must actually go to the original site to see what the content looks like.

    If the site uses https, then all the sniffer sees is that somebody accessed that site. But not the exact path of the contents, because the request is encrypted as well! all we need to do is to have some neutral cover page, and stick the interesting contents deep down in the site, after a long path. Thus, even "going to the site" won't help, because the censor wouldn't known where exactly to go...

    The only solution to this (for the censor) seems indeed to maintain the filter rules by hand, or to use search engines to find exact URLs of potentially questionnable content.

  • Very smart! The same method could actually actually also be used to access the original site... End of story.
  • Quick! Somebody please moderate the parent as funny! Frogger a violent game? Oh my God!
  • What is their definition of offensive and/or objectionable? To one person, things such as instructions on how to make a fur coat might be offensive. To others, sites advocating abortion might be offensive. If the government decides what is permissible and what isn't, the German people will be the worse off for it. What will likely happen is the subjects that offend the policy-makers will be blocked, whether the public finds them offensive or not.

    Not to sound nutty, but this is frighteningly like an Internet equivalent of Soviet reaction to opposition to official policy. They would take dissenters and confine them to asylums until they were "competent" enough to rejoin society. While the German government isn't doing anything quite that severe, by defining social standards, it reduces its population's freedom to think unorthodox thoughts.
  • There's no way to censor Gnutella, and the like, regardless, as their isn't a central server to ban.

    Imagine that the first time a Gnutella node delivers unathorized content, the IP address of the Gnutella node is added to a nationwide blacklist. No cooperating router will handle packets from that IP address. If the node has a static IP, the node owner has a problem. His box is effectively off the internet. If the node has a dynamic IP, the ISP has a problem. One of their dynamic IP's is dead. To get it 're-activated', they'll terminate the offending account.
    Let's just make a little addendum to the treaty of Versailles that says we own the Internet and call it a day.

    The treaty of Versailles was a huge mistake. By humiliating Germany, it paved the way for Hitler. That's why after WWII the US helped rebuild Germany and Japan. Anyhow, the only hope for the Internet lies in the disagreement between nations about what should be censored. Every country on this planet wants to censor something. So if 'we' - presumably the US - owned the Internet, we'd enforce our censorship without fear of circumvention. And every politician would add his 2c to the list of what should be censored.
  • Why do you think an anonymous proxy would be any use against such a system? Alice send an http request to Bob. (Alice and Bob are hosts). Bob sends Alice the requested data. Mallet, the censor, notices that the data is 'illegal' and adds Bob's IP to the blacklist. Now Carol sends an http request to Bob. The routers drop her request. Even if it got through, the routers would drop Bob's response. So Carol proxies her request through Peter, an anonymizing proxy. Peter sends an http request to Bob. The request never makes it, because the routers are dropping all packets to Bob.
    Anonymous proxies won't help at all.
  • by yooden (115278)
    Oh, wait a moment, I am.

    I'm not surprised but mildly annoyed that so many /.ers are posting without having the slightest idea. Nearly everything (non-technical) said here about the situation in Germany is guessed wrong, in one direction or the other.

    Germany is neither the Last Defense of Freedom nor a pack of nazis. Please keep talking about 'KDE vs. Gnome' or the finer points of different thermal pastes until you get a clue.

    Tia.
  • What is wrong with requiring that websites obey the law? Nothing! There is no difference betwwen a website or any other institution - they must all obey the law. I agree! If a website violates the law, then file charges, have a trial, throw the person in jail.

    What you are talking about is having someone think that they may violate the law, then just shut it down. In the United States, there is a thinking called due process.

    Not, if you don't like it, shut it down. It is legal to publish Penthouse, Playboy. It is legal to publish instructions on how to make a bomb. It is legal to express opinion that is not flattering. Libel is not legal, but you have to prove that the statements aren't true. You are not supposed to use a libel lawsuit to silence critism [sorehands.com].

    If approve of someone censoring what you don't like, someone may not like censor what you say and censor you.

  • I'll respond on the basis you are sincere about your comments. There are two areas that need to be addressed based upon your post. The first is the technological, the second is the subjective basis of the censorship you wish to support.

    From the technical aspect, you seem to indicate that it 'shouldn't take too much work' to work out the bugs. Using your example to differentiate between legitimate artwork like DiVinci's David vs. troll goat porn. Not having seen troll goat porn, but having seen David, how do you make the distinction? You ban a site because something scanning it determines what... body parts? David and Venus have the body parts you wish to ban, just generally not in the same context of the porn. Should it be possible to develop scanning that can in someway actually determine those 'parts' are within a picture, how do you determine which picture they are, technically. (Besides, every time the software ran up against a piece by Picasso, it'd probably bomb.) As for the original post, they're talking about music downloads. They certainly can't ban a site because some music title with a download happens to be present.. so what? they download the file and check the digital contents to see if it matches some supported music catalog? It's been shown that one can alter bits within a music download and yet there is not enough change to be noticed by the listener. So you check length? checksum some total? That doesn't work. And even if you could, are you going have every recording ever made of every piece of work and with every arrangement? One copyrighted piece of music sung with 3 instruments in no way is going to be identified the same as the same piece of music sung by one person with 3 backup singers and the berlin philoharmonic orchestra. Also, back to the porn issue, you do realize that includes text as well as pictures. IS there going to be a way for the system to determine porn stories from someone's thesis on language and it's demise in the 20th and 21st century. based upon what. Words? Those could be the same. We definitely have problems here.

    From the subjective censorship side. You made the distinction between legitimate artwork like DiVinci's David and goat troll porn. That's your conclusion, and valid for you. Of course, you do realize that there will be many who consider the statue of David as porn. IS that for you to decide or them? Since you've made that subjective decision already, I'm guessing you believe that it's art. For you and your family, you can make that decision. Is it wise to leave that to somebody else? You say there's no 'need' to see porn. I don't disagree. Someone said there's no 'need' to see Friends, and I'd also agree. But isn't that up to you? If THEY (whoever controls this mechanism) feel there's no NEED to see works by DiVinci, are you still in agreement? Isn't that your decision? What happens when THEY feel there's no need to see a posting critical of a public official, would you agree? What if a country wanted to block news of internal problems because it'd look bad to the world. You would agree? I happened to be disgusted in how some arrogant members of the press handled coverage of the Gulf War (yet wasn't at all displased when they were captured). Was there a 'need' to see coverage? Could THEY have decided no? I totally feel, whether some were arrogant or not, there WAS a NEED to see the coverage, but that's my opinion. What's yours? Oops, then again, neither of our opinions will be necessary since it'd make no difference if THEY were controlling things.

    This doesn't even get into the legal aspects. But it doesn't seem to work both because of technology or ethics. It seems to be a knee-JERK reaction for an expediant method to protect what... the top 100 or so of some corporations current music. (And I'm all for copyright protection, don't get me wrong. But it needs to be protected without infringing on everyone else.) Are YOU going to protect those who are mistakenly blocked? You don't feel that matters? If they block what you see as art, that's acceptable? I don't necessarily disagree with what you see as desirable, but I do see blinders on as to what it actually ends up doing. But that's your opinion, and you have a right to it... at least for now. Who knows once the software is installed (as even your message, containing such words as 'porn' 'bomb making' and 'illicit drugs' could easily have your words banned. I'm all for stopping crime, but this isn't the way.

  • I think Mr Pot should remember the comments of the head of Sony America who promised to 'block [piracy] at the routers' before denouncing a bunch of German corporate fascists. It's got nothing to do with the German government at this stage, it's just a bad idea from a bunch of seriously undemocratic organisations.
  • Where they also have a state-funded TV station. This means that we are not submerged in shitty gameshows and the like because the BBC is required to cater for 100% of it's audience, not just the lowest common denominator. I'm happy to pay 100 pounds a year to keep that good idea going. As for blocks on the internet keeping the citizenry down - what a joke. How many Germans use the internet as their primary source of information? Precious few I would have thought, given the high price of internet access there. I lived in Frankfurt for a while and although the city is ugly, the quality of life is far superior to Birmingham, UK where I live now.
  • Especially from a country where a large percentage of the population considers non-whites to be second-class citizens.
  • It's not the German government, it's the German record industry proposing this. Please read the article before getting on your high horses about neo-nazism.
  • The problem is implementation, Look for the story about bonzikitten.com, the FBI was investigating them and if all they had to do was push a button to stop the site there would be great pressure to do so. I doubt you would find any person that would say child porn should be allowed on the internet ( or kitties in jars ) but it concerns me when we start a system that can cut off parts of the net.

    What if Joe blow has a kiddy Pr0n site on his box, does this system block his IP or his block of IP's, does it block the entire domain. There is just to much power that could be derived from this thing. This type of system has the power to walk all over freesspeach, and even if most countries don't respect free speech, I do and that is why I don't want this. If you need another angle to look at this just think about the horror stories dealing with filtering software.


    ________

  • Were sorry, this site your trying to view (http://www.slashdot.org)has been blocked due to the following content

    MP3 files,Hacking,DMCA violations,Pr0n

    Please contact the owner of the site to correct the problem, after the $XX reactivation fee is payed you will be reconnected to (http://www.slashdot.olg)


    ________

  • Let's think outside the box a little. In terms of software, how credible do you think the free information movement would be if we had all the rhetoric without any concrete accomplishments like Linux, gcc, GIMP, etc.? Because the free information movement has accomplished these things in the area of software, we can use these examples to try to influence politicians to take free information seriously, and not to buy the Microsoft line wholesale.

    Where are the corresponding accomplishments of free information in the area of music? Mutopia [uwaterloo.ca] is great, but its contents were all public domain already. If you look in the relevant dmoz category [dmoz.org], there is virtually no music that has been intentionally made into copylefted free information by the composer.

    As long as free software could be successfully portrayed as a synonym for warez, it was hard to make any political progress. Same goes for music. As long as the free music scene on the internet consists of nothing but downloading MP3s illegally, it's going to be very hard to accomplish anything against the overreaching of the copyright holders.


    The Assayer [theassayer.org] - free-information book reviews

  • There is a critical flaw in your logic argument. It is called "practicality".

    Let's face it, no one has a legitimate need to view pornography or bomb making schematics or the formulas for illicit drugs.

    Let's face it, no one has a legitimate need to watch "Friends."

    But two of the three things you listed (bomb-making schematics and the formulas for drugs) have the real possiblity of killing the participent, or others around the participent. Viewing pornography perhaps doesn't hurt the viewer, but the person who is performing the pornography is often forced into the situation due to lack of money/lack of education about alternatives.

    Watching Friends, while perhaps "mindwarping", will not kill you (unless, perchance, your TV blows up; or the roof caves in while you are sitting there watching it). There is a far greater chance that you will be killed by the other things.

    That's why, at some small shred of a level, there's a reason for the laws against them. Independence doesn't just protect your personal rights, and also the rights of others from your actions.

    Logicians seem to have this weird problem binding "truth" with "reality". This is not a signature, but an easily viewed argument considering the above guy's post, which was totally moronic.

    --------
    Carmack is an elitist, pseudonerd bastard.

  • If that system can determine what is legal and what is not, then Germany will no longer need lawyers!
  • [scene: Southern {US} plantation circa 1850]

    Young slave:"The boss been beatin' us every day for three weeks now, pa, ain't it time we slipped through that hole in the fence and went up north?"

    Older slave:"I know it's hard son, but the law says we are slaves and ought to stay that way, and the law is to be obeyed, because we all know its always the best thing for everybody."

    Yes, this IS a matter of principle. One of them is that the unjust and/or obscene laws must be fought and abolished. And *I* will fight any mindless, zombie law thumper who tries to force injustice down my thoat.

    -={(Astynax)}=-
  • I believe you're misinterpretting most of the arguments against these types of systems. The primary reason most people don't like these systems is that they can easily be fooled. The fact that they are automated is the problem, computers have no sense of humor, irony, etc... and therefore cannot judge the difference between a illegal site and a parody. An excelent example is www.shackofcrack.com [shackofcrack.com], the site seems to actually offer crack until you click on "buy", at which point it sends you to a page which makes fun of you for being a crack addict. Any computer system would pick up on that domain and block it when it is in fact harmless, and more than likely, not illegal because its a parody. Therefore, someones freedom is being curtailed.

    "// this is the most hacked, evil, bastardized thing I've ever seen. kjb"

  • So,if Germany decides to implement blocking at the ISP level, how is that different from the US? In the US, if the police believe that you have or publish "bad" content (pirated, objectionable, etc.) they can confiscate your computers and media, without any trial or due process.

    I think many people in the US live in a state of denial in this area. There are lots of rights guaranteed on paper or assumed to exist, but in reality, when it comes to privacy, freedoms, and protection from unreasonable government actions, the situation is considerably worse than in many other countries. Many policy decisions in the US seem to be hidden behind code words, and informed public debate seems to rarely takes place.

    I think it would be unfortunate if Germany adopted this proposed policy (and that's all it is for now). But at least there is an open debate about it and the cards are on the table. I think if it were to be implemented, it would likely come along with other legal provisions that protect consumers. For example, one thing to put on the table for the purpose of negotiations might be a requirement for publishers to publish their content in formats that allow copying. That could be a reasonable tradeoff, giving publishers a bit more confidence that they can effectively shut down pirate sites, in return for publishing stuff in a way that doesn't lock it up in perpetuity.

  • What is to stop someone from mirroring the sites? Sounds like this could balloon quickly out of proportion...
  • duh...
    don't they need application layer content filtering to get what they want? :-)
    i mean, with virtual hosting, they can't filter on IP, since on the same IP you could get those nasty mp3s, and right next to this, some innocent homepage?

    so they have to filter on the http request.
    http transparent proxying for everyone.
    now how *expensive* and painfully slow is that? :-)
    i can't see how they can get *one* isp to do this.


  • sung to Eminem's "Stan"... retouched...

    Slashdot's gone cold I'm wondering why I got out of bed at all
    The morning blue screen on my Windows and I can't script at all
    And even if I could it'll all be gray but your picture on my wall
    It reminds me, that it's not so bad -- it's not so bad

    Dear Rob, I wrote but you still ain't callin
    I left my email, my ICQ, and my yahoo chat at the bottom
    I sent two emails back in autumn, you must not-a got 'em
    There probably was a problem with your postfix or somethin
    Sometimes I scribble email addees too sloppy when I jot 'em
    but anyways; fsck it, what's been up? Man how's your boxes?
    My boxes is linux too, I'm bout to be a compiler
    once I learn gcc,
    I'ma go on and compile for hours
    I read about your Palm Pilot too I'm sorry
    I had a friend lose his Palm over at the airport in Maradonna
    I know you probably hear this everyday, but I'm your biggest fan
    I even read all your Linux news and Microsoft posts man
    I got a room full of your posters and your pictures man
    I like the way you sold /. to Andover man, that shit was fat
    Anyways, I hope you get this man, hit me back,
    just to chat, truly yours, your biggest fan
    This is Stan

    Dear Rob, you still ain't called or wrote, I hope you have a chance
    I ain't mad - I just think it's FSCKED UP you don't answer fans
    If you didn't wanna talk to me outside your Linux World
    you didn't have to, but you coulda signed an autograph for Matthew
    That's my Senior sys admin he's only 26 years old
    We waited on a 9600 baud for you,
    four hours and you just said, "No."
    That's pretty shitty man - you're like his fsckin idol
    He wants to be just like you man, he likes you more than I do
    I ain't that mad though, I just don't like bein lied to
    Remember when we met in Boston - you said if I'd write you
    you would write back - see I'm just like you in a way
    I never had a clue about shit either
    I used to gcc shit with my wife then beat her
    I can relate to what you're saying in your page
    so when I feel like rmusering I read Slashdot to begin the rage
    cause I don't really got shit else so that shit helps when I'm depressed
    I even got a tattoo of slashdot across the chest
    Sometimes I even packet myself to see how much it floods
    It's like adrenaline, the DDoS is such a sudden rush of blood
    See everything you say is real, and I respect you cause you tell it
    My girlfriend's jealous cause I talk about you 24/7
    But she don't know you like I know you Rob, no one does
    She don't know what it was like for people like us growin up
    You gotta call me man, I'll be the biggest fan you'll ever lose
    Sincerely yours, Stan -- P.S.
    We should be together too

    Dear Mister-I'm-Too-Good-To-Waste-A-Packet-On-My-Fans,
    this'll be the last packet I ever send your ass
    It's been six months and still no word - I don't deserve it?
    I know you got my last two emails
    I wrote the @ signs on 'em perfect
    So this is my payload I'm sending you, I hope you hear it
    I'm on my modem now, 9600 baud do you fear it
    Hey Rob, I drank a fifth of vodka, you dare me to code?
    You know the song that was written on the comode
    about that little turd that could've saved that other turd from drowning
    but didn't instead he left the person on the toilet shitting
    That's kinda how shit is, you coulda rescued me from drowning
    Now it's too late - I'm on a 1000 downloads now, I'm drowsy
    and all I wanted was a lousy letter or a call
    I hope you know I ripped +ALL+ of your pictures off the wall
    I love you Rob, we coulda been together, think about it
    You ruined it now, I hope you can't sleep and you dream about it
    And when you dream I hope you can't sleep and you SCREAM about it
    I hope your conscience EATS AT YOU and you can't BREATHE without me
    See Rob {*screaming*} Shut up bitch! I'm tryin to code
    Hey Rob, that's my senior admin screamin from the comode
    but I didn't cut the power off, I just rebooted, see I ain't like you
    cause if rm -rf'd we'd suffer more, and then the boxes die too
    Well, gotta go, I'm almost BGP bridged now
    Oh shit, I forgot, how'm I supposed to send this packet out?

    Dear Stan, I meant to write you sooner but I just been busy
    You said your box is running now, how'd you like your gcc?
    Look, I'm really flattered you would install 7.0 Redhat
    and here's an autograph for your senior sys admin
    I wrote it on the Starter cap
    I'm sorry I didn't see you at the show, I musta missed you
    Don't think I did that shit intentionally just to diss you
    But what's this shit you said about you like to DDoS lamers too?
    I say that shit just clownin dog,
    c'mon - how fucked up is you?
    You got some issues Stan, I think you need some counseling
    so heres some more Linux stories to keep your ass busy when you get down some
    And what's this shit about us meant to be together?
    I sold Slashdot for thousands so now I'm a single rich geeky jetsetter
    I really think you and your boxes need each other
    or maybe you just need to treat them better
    I hope you get to read this letter, I just hope it reaches you in time
    before you hurt yourself, I think that you'll be doin just fine
    if you relax a little, I'm glad I inspire you but Stan
    why are you so mad? Try to understand, that overclocking requires some stronger fans
    I just don't want you to do some crazy shit
    I seen this one shit on the news a couple weeks ago that made me sick
    Some dude was drunk and switched his router for a bridge
    and his packets were blackholed, and his DNS couldn't get digged
    and in the colo they found a tape, but they didn't say who it was to
    Come to think about, his name was.. it was you
    Damn!

    sil @ antioffline

  • I live in a country where there is no REAL freedom of speech. Oh, yes, the German constitution does have some provisions for what they call "free speech" but watch what happens when I deny what they call the holocaust or ridicule or belittle jews or other unpopular minorities.. Oh and yes: Blasphemy. That's a criminal offense according to the German Penal Code. Ridule God, a religious community or Weltanschauung.. and you could get fined and/or sent to jail for something like that. You Americans on /. take all the freedom you have _left_ for granted. They've been taking away your "radical freedoms" for quiet some time now but even so you still enjoy a lot less government meddling in your daily affairs than people in Germany. Things have and are happening over here in Post Reich Germany which I guess few off you would even believe.. They are planning to artificially raise the price for meat and meat products which are far more expensive than you could even imagine in the first place by introducing a special tax.. They have mandatory state run and controlled TV networks which you have to PAY for whether you watch them or not... I could rant on and on but let me tell you I think they're certainly planning to do just that: curtail the internet that the common citizenry doesn't even get exposed to the very notion that life is a lot different and at times a hell of a lot better outside the country.
  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @12:40PM (#441392) Journal
    Although Germany does restrict certain political activities related to National Socialism, and like France, has a certain societal interest in supressing Nazi memorabilia, nostalgia, or political expression, the system is designed to restrict or otherwise control online music transfers.

    Personally, I believe that political expression on the net should not be limited by political bounderies-- suppress Nazi sites and you essentially give China the moral authority to control Tibetan political expression on the web, but that's just my opinion.

    In any case, I believe that there is even less of a foundation for giving control over information flow to German Music Companies-- which is really what this is all about.

  • by Teferi (16171) <teferi@wmut e . net> on Saturday February 10, 2001 @12:00PM (#441393) Homepage
    Six million.
    And with that, I invoke Godwin's Law. End of thread.

    "If ignorance is bliss, may I never be happy.
  • by BlueUnderwear (73957) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @11:41AM (#441394)
    If it's automatic, the mirrors will soon be blocked as well... Moreover, if it's really automatic there will be a new kind of denial-of-service attack: somehow make it appear as if the site is sending content which matches the signature that the sniffer is looking for, and vlammm! site instantly inaccessible...
  • by namespan (225296) <(gro.liametile) (ta) (napseman)> on Saturday February 10, 2001 @12:16PM (#441395) Journal
    Just curious. I'm not very knowledgeable about encryption or stuff at lower network levels, but wouldn't using HTTPS for looking at the websites stop the sniffers? I

    And you can't block ALL encrypted traffic, seeing as how there's so much business that depends on it...

    --
  • by Kierthos (225954) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @03:06PM (#441396) Homepage
    Maybe because of that rare L. Ron Hubbard collection of rap tunes, including the infamous "Fight the Thetan"?

    Seriously, though, since the German government already considers the CoS a business rather then a church, then it might be listed as "illegal" in terms of fraud if they referred to themselves as a religion on any Germany-based servers.

    Not that I care what happens to the CoS, mind you...

    I don't think this has a chance in Hell(tm) of working right. There are just too many ways to get around it.

    Kierthos
  • by sconeu (64226) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @11:35AM (#441397) Homepage Journal

    What's to stop them from blocking other "objectionable" content? I don't hold much truck with the CoS, but I can see them trying to block Scientology, and the slippery slope starts...

  • by xDe (264660) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @11:39AM (#441398)
    ... that it 'looks like it's going ahead'?

    The article describes a system that the German phonographic industry would like to see implemented... no government enforcement of this is mentioned, just that they want to open a dialogue with ISPs, none of whom, according to the CCC's spokesman, want to install it.

    Bit early to start panicking, yet.

  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday February 10, 2001 @12:32PM (#441399)
    this could be just what the Internet needs to remove the filth and perversion

    I totally reject the idea that somebody else should take it upon themselves to decide what is filth and perversion. I am a rational intelligent adult perfectly capable of making my own decisions in such matters.

    no one has a legitimate need to view pornography or bomb making schematics or the formulas for illicit drugs

    Absolutely and incontrovertably wrong.

    There are many people for whom pornography is necessary to achieve normal sexual function. Bomb making schematics are an essential part of police and emergency response training. A degree in chemistry or chemical engineering requires an understanding of exactly the principles that are used to make these bombs in order to avoid their construction accidentally in a manufacturing or laboratory environment. Formulae for illicit (and illegal) drugs are required for physicians and chemists to be able to understand and treat the effects of these substances. In many cases any illicit drug is in fact a legal drug, just taken by someone without a prescription for the drug.

    The fact is that there are many people that benefit from the free availability of these materials.

    Your posting is one of the most dangerous and ill-advised that I have ever seen on this site. What you are advocating is an almost complete evisceration of both freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and supression of much knowledge that is fundamental to our technology based civilization.


    MOVE 'ZIG'.
  • Let's face it, no one has a legitimate need to view pornography or bomb making schematics or the formulas for illicit drugs.


    Let's face it, no one has a legitimate need to watch "Friends."

    Both statements are equally true.

    A restriction on sensitive content available on the Internet will cause no inconvenience to most of us, and help stop the criminals out there from having access to mind warping propaganda.


    So tell me, where is the line drawn?

    More importantly, who draws it?

    I think "Friends" is mind warping propaganda. I want it banned. All websites about the topic should be shut down and their limbs cut off.

    Even better, say I am in a minority religion and the majority religion (here in NA, that's Christianity) doesn't like it. They want it shut down. They say it's evil and makes kids shoot each other in schools (not true at all). Because of jerks like you, my say is repressed by the majority. Not only that but my views are seen as illegal. My right to exist as I am, for all intents and purposes, ends, at least in the fucked up country you want.

    Have I demonstrated why free speech should be all-emcompassing, yet?

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