Re: TECH: Is PICS a threat to Free Speech?

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Mon, 30 Jun 1997 23:31:45 -0700 (PDT)

> It's ironic Lee that you and I have so much in common that you can't
> see past your passionate opinions of things to see what I'm really
> asking. First of all, I never once said PICS <itself> can or cannot be
> used to censor anything. In fact since I know very little about PICS, I
> haven't stated anything affirmative about PICS at all. Perhaps my
> questions were not worded precisely enough to fit your semantic
> prejudices. Thus, your responses to my QUESTIONS have been off base.
> This seems to me that your more interested in showing off your opinions,
> rather than to constructively answer my specific questions. If this is
> not the case, then I will try for round 3. I hope this time my
> questions are worded in such a way as to not upset your sensabilities.

I'm really trying to understand what you are asking, and doing my best
to answer, despite your belief that I am not. It is not possible for you
to "upset my sensibilities"--they are mine alone. If I become upset,
that's my fault, not yours. I answered you specifically, constructively,
meaningfully, and in direct response to your questions. I did not evade
or equivocate, and I did not impugn your motives--in fact I don't give a
damn about your motives nor should you about mine--and I gave you useful
and complete information. If it wasn't the answer you wanted then you
need to ask a different question, and I will respond to that.

> Is there a way for PEOPLE to get around other PEOPLE <using> filters
> to censor them without their consent? For example, is there a way for a
> clever enough Chineese citizen to gain access to those parts of the Net
> the Chinnees Government has blocked? Can a high-level filtering system
> be hacked? And if so, how?

A much more detailed question, unfortunately it's not answerable. It's
like answering "Can software be hacked?" Of course some can, and some
can't. None of that has anything to do with PICS. A PICS bureau is a
source of information, nothing more. I don't know how to answer your
questions any more specifically or accurately than that. Are there
social implication of PICS? Of course, the same as there are social
implications of any information. Will some people use that to keep
information from people? Probably. What can be done? Well, if the
censoring software can be hacked, then hack it; that depends on the
software, not on PICS. I suspect that in the age of satellite net
conections, it will be practically impossible for such a system to work,
because PICS can only /add/ data to the system, and it's hard to
restrict which software people use when it too is available on the
net and software without restrictions is easier to create and more
profitable than software with restrictions.

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC