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Censorship United States Your Rights Online

Symantec Says No To Pro-Gun Sites 1716

Posted by timothy
from the manufacturing-antipathy dept.
cluge writes "A recent American Rifleman contained small column that said that Symantec's new Internet Security 2004 would block pro gun rights sites (i.e. NRA sites), while not blocking similar anti-gun rights web sites. Being the eternal skeptic, this claim was tested by downloading the trial version and running some tests against it. To my surprise I found the every NRA site was blocked and was in the category 'weapons.' This even included the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. Some sites that were not blocked were notable anti-gun rights sites such as The Brady Campaign, and Good Bye Guns. The only anti-gun rights site that was blocked that I could find was Hand Gun Control's web site." Read on for more.

cluge continues: "My rather informal test still raises the spectre that a large corporate entity may be clandestinely trying to sway you or your child's political views by censoring content from one side of a political debate. This is indeed chilling, especially considering that such software is required to be used in libraries to protect children. Is this political slant common in censorware? Have slashdotters found similar glitches in other 'parental control' software?"

Slashdot has certainly covered censorware before, but reports like this are still valuable as the world evolves.

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Symantec Says No To Pro-Gun Sites

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  • Hypocrites. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by anaphora (680342) * on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:18PM (#7371901) Journal
    I will never buy another Symantec product again, if this is true. I don't care whether you are pro-gun or anti-gun, this is wrong. Can anyone recommend a good non-symantec antivirus and software firewall? (Please, please, please don't say ZoneAlarm.)
  • Who? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LittleLebowskiUrbanA (619114) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:20PM (#7371923) Homepage Journal
    It has been my experience that ultimately, a decision that affects a great deal of people or one person is usually made by ONE person.
    Who would that be at Symantec? I wonder if the software blocks porn and anti-gun sites as well?
  • Censorware? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:21PM (#7371937)
    Censorware as in Michael, the Slashdot "editor" is squatting the censorware.org domain [censorware.org] Censorware?

    Censorware who, because of Michael's behaviour, were forced to get a new domain [censorware.net] Censorware?
  • by GrnArmadillo (697378) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:22PM (#7371944)
    Is to fight to uphold the rights of people we really disagree with. This is exactly what went down with Hillary's biography in China - the Govt didn't have to censor it because the publisher did it on their own. Of course, the picture of the world we get still runs through the likes of "Fair and Balanced' news rooms, but blocking off net sites in a way that users might not even realize is happening just can't be allowed to stand....
  • This stuff stinks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by beamdriver (554241) <beamdriver@gmail.com> on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:23PM (#7371952) Homepage
    I'm actually more on the gun control side of the fence, but this shows the real danger of these types of programs.

    Other "nannyware" software in the past has been shown to block access to liberal political sites, now here's one that blocks conservative ones. Maybe this will wake up our elected leaders to the fact that mandating this type of software for libraries and such is bad idea.

    I can see parents going to the software store in the future, asking for web filter software and having the retail-droid ask, "Would you like a liberal version or a conservative one?"

  • by vudufixit (581911) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:30PM (#7372022)
    Check out the rec.guns newsgroup - this was brought up a while before this story broke by a poster on that group.
  • Reminds me of a poem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mattwolf7 (633112) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:30PM (#7372028)
    "Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
    habe ich geschwiegen;
    ich war ja kein Kommunist.

    Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
    habe ich geschwiegen;
    ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

    Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
    habe ich geschwiegen;
    ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

    Als sie mich holten,
    gab es keinen mehr, der protestieren konnte."

    Martin Niemoller, 1892-1984
    English Translation [remember.org]

  • by RevMike (632002) <revMike@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:30PM (#7372030) Journal
    Think about it: NRA and other gun sites are about how to find weapons and use them. Anti Gun sites arent, in fact they discourage their use. what theyre trying to block is not the advocacy of gun rights, its the advocacy of GUNS THEMSELVES.

    Read the article. The sites blocked include the NRA's lobbying site. That most certainly falls under the category of "advocacy of gun rights". This certainly falls under the umbrella of "view point discrimination" and goverment supported entities, including libraries, have no business using this software.

    Furthermore, you unfairly characterize the activities of the NRA. Most of the non-lobbying work of the NRA is promoting the sports of hunting and target shooting. While you may morally object to hunting (as is your right) it is a legal activity virtually everywhere. Target shooting is an internationally recognized sport, and is included in both the summer and winter olympics. The NRA also supports the hobby of collecting guns of historical and cultural interest.

    Topics that I have never seen in an NRA publication include: how to illegally acquire a gun, how to convert a gun to automatic operation, how to manufacture illegal ammunition, etc.

  • Re:Keep in mind (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:38PM (#7372114)
    Europeans laugh at American movies where the first reaction of the hero is to pull out a gun. You just don't realize how completely bizarre American society has become that guns are commonplace.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:42PM (#7372156)
    No. [michaelmoore.com]
  • Re:ACLU to help out? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by steveha (103154) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:43PM (#7372170) Homepage
    You are absolutely right: we can expect no help on this issue from the ACLU. (At least the national-level one; some state-level ACLUs might actually believe in supporting all ten of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights.)

    I can't find it now, but a few years ago I saw a web site with a photo of a Bill of Rights poster put out by the national-level ACLU. The Amendments were not numbered, and the Second Amendment was not on the poster! And IIRC they had split up one of the longer Amendments (the Fourth?) so it looked like two Amendments, so it wasn't obvious that there were only nine on the poster instead of ten.

    While I was looking for that, I checked out the ACLU web site. They offer an "Illustrated Bill of Rights" poster. I can't find a big image, and it's hard to make out details of the little one, but I don't think the Second Amendment is on this poster either. (If you have seen this poster full size and can say for sure whether the Second Amendment is on there, please do!)

    http://www.aclu.org/Store/Store.cfm?ID=92&c=5 [aclu.org]

    Expect no help at all from the ACLU.

    steveha
  • Re:Keep in mind (Score:4, Interesting)

    by quigonn (80360) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:47PM (#7372197) Homepage
    In other European countries guns are outlawed, too, and the crime rate is a lot lower than in England. So what do you want to prove?
  • by Elias Israel (182882) <eli@promanage-inc.com> on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:49PM (#7372224)
    "If you want assault rifles, join the army. We have lots of them" - General Clark (I think)

    Here's another one along those lines:

    "Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA. Ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State" - Heinrich Himmler
  • Re:Keep in mind (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eericson (103272) <[harlequin] [at] [earthlink.net]> on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:56PM (#7372301) Homepage
    Bzzt. Wrong. Here are Interpol 2001 crime statistics (rate per 100,000): 4161 - US 7736 - Germany 6941 - France 9927 - England and Wales And here's the 1995 ones: 5278 - US 8179 - Germany 6316 - France 7206 - England & Wales Now, there's 2 things to notice here. 1) The US rate is CONSIDERABLY lower. and 2) The US rate is dropping while the European rates are climbing. Now, would you care to make an argument backed up factually? (for those that want all the details, you can grab the Interpot docs here [interpol.int]
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @03:59PM (#7372331)
    Symantec was already on my feces list for somehow giving my email address to spammers (I always create a unique email address for dealing with each vendor, and lo and behold, theirs suddenly started being used to sell me Vicodin for enlarging my home mortgage). This pretty much puts it over the edge for me, and I'll avoid their products now, where possible.
  • Re:Keep in mind (Score:4, Interesting)

    by InadequateCamel (515839) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @04:07PM (#7372408)
    Last I checked, England had one of the lowest homicide rates in the world. I assume much has not changed in a couple of years.

    If you can give me a few statistics to make me believe that England has a higher homicide rate than DC then I will change my views accordingly. But having lived in London for some time, I am pretty sure that you will not find any such information.
  • Re:ACLU to help out? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MAXOMENOS (9802) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [iamoxam]> on Sunday November 02, 2003 @04:12PM (#7372439) Homepage
    It's a large enough subset so that I feel comfortable giving them money to defend 98% of the Contitution .. and then giving money to NRA to defend the other critical 2%.
  • by md358 (587485) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @04:13PM (#7372457)
    I agree with you on the historical statistics; I spent a few years of my life researching crime in pre-, post-industrial, and modern London (before getting a real job) and the past was a much more violent place.

    But let me ask you one question: why does the U.S. have much higher murder and aggravated assault offences than any other Western (ie North American, Western European) nation? If not the huge number of firearms and their availability then there must be some other social factor at play, right?

    I've asked that before and most responses I get are something along the lines of "cultural cohesiveness", or lack thereof. I can't really comment on that since I'm not American, and maybe I'm a little idealistic but I don't think it can be tacked up to racial issues.
  • by thirty2bit (685528) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @04:38PM (#7372669)
    First came Symantec's Product Activation, their statement that only money matters and not their customers.

    Now comes Symantec's disregard for their customer's rights of constitutional knowledge, the rights to bear arms.

    Since they're pretty much 0wn3d by Microsoft, will Linux sites be blocked next?

    I will never patronize Symantec again.
  • Re:Hypocrites. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Avihson (689950) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @04:40PM (#7372697)
    You nailed it!
    What next, do they block the RNC or the DNC depending on the political persuasion of the CEO?

    I wonder if they do block the libertarian party, anyone know?

    One more reason not to use any symantic product (not that I need an excuse!)

  • Re:You're wrong (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Stryker2 (258706) on Sunday November 02, 2003 @04:48PM (#7372790)
    Sheesh... yet another twit heard from. Go read the decisions yourself, without a hoplophobic filter. The main decision cited is Miller, where the SCOTUS held that shotguns with sawed-off barrels (less than 13" in this case, IIRC) could be banned as they were not suitable for use by militia. This decision would tend to support the argument that people should be allowed to own cannons and hand grenades, so be careful in using it to support your agenda.

    Since you fouled the last one off so badly, want to try again? How can you claim that the word people, when used in the Second Amendment, means something totally different from its meaning in every other amendment? You cannot, logically. And before you trot out that old cannard about militia, note that the phrase containing militia is a subordinate clause; that means it is used to support the sentence. To be logically consistent, which is more than I expect, you would have to argue that the idea of free speech only applies to organized news agencies and that individuals have no right to express their opinions.

    There was an interesting exercise done a few years back, where the word book was substituted for the word gun, and educated for armed. When you apply the arguments used against the second amendment to the revised one, you see how ludicrous they are and that the arguments are not about the meaning of the amendment but instead are about banning guns.

    Getting back to the topic at hand, this is nothing but an underhanded attempt by Symantec to push a political agenda. The fact that it is done silently, and that CIPA mandates use of software like this, only makes it more offensive.
  • No, its *not* (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tkrotchko (124118) * on Sunday November 02, 2003 @06:23PM (#7373426) Homepage
    "It is easily disabled/configurable as any blocking software is."

    No, its not configurable; that's the point.

    Good blocking software would allow you to view the list of sites being blocked and then enable individual sites or add your own.

    No blocking software does this primarily because the only thing of value this software brings to the table is a list of objectionable sites.
  • by AftanGustur (7715) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:25AM (#7376149) Homepage


    I also thing the sam thing goes for Pro and Anti-Drugs sites .. Pro-Drugs sites are blocked but the Anti-Drug sites not..

    Anyone have an objection to that ?

    Same goes for Hacking Anti-Hacking, Porn & Fight-Porn sites ..

    Why shouldn't Pro-Gun sites be classed as such ??

  • Re:ACLU to help out? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by virtual_mps (62997) on Monday November 03, 2003 @07:09AM (#7376524)
    In point of fact, it is the "left-wing" of American politics which has been the champion of people's rights. "Right-wing" politicians have been on the wrong side of these issues for over thirty years. At least since the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Bull. It's been about power, who has it, and who wants it. Left/right wing has meant pretty much nothing in terms of who votes for what bill that infringes civil rights, except that the right wing will tend to fight for freedoms in certain areas that the left wing won't and vice versa. Neither will stand up for something like free speech if that gets in the way of some other agenda.
  • by turgid (580780) on Monday November 03, 2003 @09:26AM (#7376944) Journal
    Why arn't people discussing how to protect thrir kids from that?

    The more I see of life the more I see apathy and it looks like 99% of the population doesn't really live in a waking state. They merely drift like automatons caught in a flow from one end of life to the other.

  • A non-US view (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zog The Undeniable (632031) on Monday November 03, 2003 @10:04AM (#7377122)
    It's not the guns that are the problem, it's the Americans. Before the flames begin, we in the UK have pretty much the same Anglo-Saxon mentality (short tempers, we always think we're right, our home is our castle etc) which is why we're not allowed to carry guns - something that dates from WWI, if I remember correctly, although it's been (fairly pointlessly) tightened to include most sports shooting since the Hungerford and Dunblane massacres, which were committed with legally held guns.

    Conversely, the Swiss are armed to the teeth and gun violence there is very rare. It's just that Anglo-Saxons will fight with whatever they've got - fists, knives or firearms - over pretty much any disagreement, but your average European will just make a rude gesture and forget about it.

    I'm always amazed by how many posts gun stories attract on Slashdot though!

  • by gooberguy (453295) <gooberguy@gmail.com> on Monday November 03, 2003 @10:16AM (#7377190)
    Sorry, it was a joke about when you said "I only drive there for snowboarding..." The "there" could have meant Austria or Australia. BTW, I hosted an exchange student from Germany (Grafenhausen, actually) and while visiting his family this summer, we saw Bowling for Columbine. It was interesting how diffently we saw guns. He thought they were deadly weapons, while I thought they were useful at defense and hunting.

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