Net Nanny Follies

Mature content

Roland Soong of ESWN writes from New York:

I tried to access Danwei from my New York City office and I got this message:

Access Denied (content_filter_denied)

You have been denied access to the requested URL:
Category: Adult/Mature Content;News/Media

This site is being blocked as it has been determined not suitable within a business environment. If you require access to this site for a business purpose please send an e-mail request to your helpdesk.

There are currently 19 Comments for Mature content.

Comments on Mature content

What is a good name for the American business net nanny?

Gee, I thought only the evil communists in China censor the Internet.

Well, I'm sure our site won't be blocked from there. It's anything but mature...

Danwei's sub-title is "Chinese media, advertising, and urban life."

The unnamed company is one of the biggest names in "media/advertising" (in America, China as well as globally)."

Yet I sensed that none of the usual suspects will take up this case of censorship/human rights violation.

Should employees of four of the top ten multinational ad agencies in China be allowed to find out what is going on in media/advertising? Of course not! Don't be silly! (Note: This is based upon my assumption four ad agencies owned by the same corporate parent are among the top 10 multinationals in China; maybe four isn't the correct number, but so what!? I wouldn't be surprised that other multinationals have their own Internet access-restrictions. We know the consequences to worker productivity if they didn't, don't we?).

I think it's entirely justified. Danwei is clearly unsuitable for browsing in the office, or anywhere else for that matter. It is a hive of licentiousness and louche behavior, and I only read it with a sheet draped over my computer and black electricians tape over my eyes. In fact, I'm being corrupted even as I type this. Off! Off! Get this filth off of me! It's sticking!

My guess is that Roland's office has a hardware firewall with a word filter turned on: since Danwei used 'the f word' in "Bitching about expatriate men of China" the filter might have blocked, as it is contains a word which might have been blacklisted. Did the block include the whole domain, or just just the main page?

A friend of mine told me last week he can't access my blog from his office in Hong Kong. His company uses a filtering product called Websense which has clearly been set to block blog hosting services and social networking sites (he can't get onto Flickr either) in addition to the usual porn and whatever. This seems to happen quite a lot with corporate nannies nowadays.

If you think comparing some American company to the bullies in charge over there is even 1/10 valid you are all stupid wrong.

DANWEI does have some indecent topics dealing with sex and thus that is in fact is not suitable for the workplace.

You are trying to find some political motive for your company's filter not allowing you access to DANWEI at are full of shit---its no political matter.

I work for the biggest (and most conservative) media company in the world and I never once had a problem getting access to DANWEI. However, if I did its probably because learning about some trendy Chinese woman's sexual exploits is not necessary to me doing my job during working hours.

In fact, I heard in some companies (in America) you can't access recruiting websites either, so forget about changing jobs. Isn't it brilliant?

Xiaomin: They're blocked because you're not supposed to check those sorts of websites at work. In many companies, access to any non-internal or unrelated websites are blocked for the specific reason of keeping employees "productive." They also remove games from computers, deny the installation of non-approved applications, etc. The employee, in their mind, should simply be lucky to have a computer rather than an abacus. (You laugh, but I was told this by a former employer.)

If people wish to search job sites, they can do so on their own time, on their own terminals at home or otherwise at public terminals, e.g. libraries. Even in post-flood New Orleans we have those. :P

In the name of worker productivity, large corporations will subscribe to a 'nanny' service such as SurfControl, Websense, or whatever. The 'nanny' service classifies a large number of websites into categories such as "Adult/Mature", "Political/Hate", etc. and the corporations can pick and choose what to allow or ban. The corporation administrator is empowered to override specific sites and/or categories.

On a previous trip, I noted that the ObserveChina site (an overseas Chinese dissident site that receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy) was banned by my corporate firewall as a "Hate" site.

At this time, I have simply accepted that this is the state of things. The corporation has reasons to ban certain websites (e.g. "Adult/Mature"). With these things, they sometimes wipe out the wrong people. Danwei is in fact very relevant to the corporation's core business. I also know that the firewall bans Cosmopolitan magazine, which is a mainstream magazine client of the company.

By the way, the firewall also bans proxy service websites -- they're not stupid, you know ...

These might not yet have made it onto their list - from the Weifang Radish:

Very. Fast. Proxy.

Tor slow? Anonymouse slow? Proxzee slow? Enter Japanese http proxies: 3124 3128 3128 3128 3128

Very, very, fast. And reliable. For some sites, it actually seems faster to use these proxies than to access those sites directly.

The only downside to these proxies are that they are http only, which means in general that you can’t log in to things, such as your email account, using them, and you can’t use them for things besides web browsing.

Thanks to Geoff C. for this amazing tip.

And thanks to Kevin for letting the rest of us know.

Hehe, I see the logic of the employer, but I'm highly skeptical whether blocking external websites can boost productivity. I also heard stories where the company installed sort of video monitoring system in the office to make sure the employees are working all the time. Meanwhile, the employee developed the skill of calculating his home purchase plans while staring at the "company computer screen." It's rather sad, I'd say...

Reminds me of the fuss about an overzealous firewall that was going to be installed in US public libraries in 2002. One of the sites it blocked belonged to Ani Tenzin Palmo - a Tibetan Buddhist nun from London. She will always be associated in my mind with 9/11 because I was at a teaching she gave in Hong Kong when the planes hit the twin towers. But I don't think she had anything to do with it. Pornography and advocacy of terrorism seem to be distinctly absent from her website. Maybe it was the second part of the word "compassion" that triggered the block.

I have actually removed one line from the system message above, because I did not feel it was relevant. It may actually be relevant.

That line identifies my user name.

That is pertinent to the extent that if I am fired some day from the company and I should file a civil lawsuit for wrongful dismissal, all of this information will be presented in court to show what a bad employee I was (i.e. accessing Adult/Mature sites from the office).

I kid you not. They go even further as one employee had her entire keystroke history presented in court in her civil lawsuit to show that she was unproductive.

I don't know about y'all, but I certainly get my jollies on by checking out DANWEI. ;)

I'm vaguely unsettled by the fact that so many devoted Danwei readers make a habit of visiting an Adult/Mature Content site, eswn. We'll have to keep a closer watch on the comments queue, I'm afraid.

This is ridiculous. Danwei has some of the most immature content concerning China on the web, and that's why I like it.

The best thing that Roland and his many fans can do is slip this incident and the company's name to the NYT or some other member of the MSM as another example of corporate totalitarianism. Said company will be publicly humiliated into letting such subversive free speech back into their precious little intranet.

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