Re: Self-censorship using URLs

Ronald E. Daniel (rdaniel@acl.lanl.gov)
Tue, 5 Sep 1995 09:13:27 -0600


From: "Ronald E. Daniel" <rdaniel@acl.lanl.gov>
Date: Tue, 5 Sep 1995 09:13:27 -0600
Message-Id: <199509051513.JAA06500@idaknow.acl.lanl.gov>
To: clarkem@unpsun1.cc.unp.ac.za, uri@bunyip.com
Subject: Re:  Self-censorship using URLs

Matthew Clarke said:

> I want to raise the ugly issue of censorship and suggest a possible scheme
> which uses URLs to implement a helpful and hopefully non-threatening form
> of self-censorship. I understand that various people and organisations have
> been looking into the possibilities of self-censorship already, but I have
> not seen details publicised of any firm proposals.
> 
> Please bear with my first contact with the URI working group with patience.
> Has this sort of suggestion already been debated? How can I join in the
> debate? To whom should I write in order to promote this idea?

Hi Matthew,

The URI list is not the appropriate place for discusing this topic.
The URI-WG is defunct, so I suggest you monitor "ratings@junction.net".
There has not been a lot of traffic there lately, perhaps you can
breathe life back into the list.

The subject of ratings/censorship/parental_empowerment was taken up
at a BOF during the Stockholm IETF meeting. A new working group
was supposed to be formed to address this topic, although I have not
heard anything on the subject. Again, ratings@junction.net may be
able to supply status info. The upshot of that BOF was that the WG
would first look at methods to create safe portions of the net - for
example, how a school could set up something so that only known resources
could be accessed and all others denied. After that was in place to meet
current needs, work would go into techniques to describe network resources
so that a less restrictive access model could be used. 


As for your particular proposal, it seems very similar to the "KidCode"
proposal from Borenstein, et. al. (Look for it in the Internet Drafts
repositories). For a variety of reasons I believe that both proposals
are undesirable. First, I have strong reservations
about the idea of encoding rating info into the URL. The whole
reason people are looking at URNs is because URLs already confound
identity and location. Adding resource description info and implicit
access control info is just going to aggrevate the scaling problems
the web is already experiencing. Second, ratings by the publisher are
inadequate for a global system. Ideas of decency vary too much from
one culture to another for such ratings to work well. Therefore,
provision has to be made for other parties to rate resources. Once
those provisions are in place, there is no need for the publisher to
have their own priviledged rating scheme.


Regards,

Ron Daniel Jr.                email: rdaniel@acl.lanl.gov
Advanced Computing Lab        voice: (505) 665-0597
MS B-287  TA-3  Bldg. 2011      fax: (505) 665-4939
Los Alamos National Lab        http://www.acl.lanl.gov/~rdaniel/
Los Alamos, NM,  87545    tautology: "Conformity is very popular"