Censors At Work

I sent a friend an email a few moments ago. I sent it to his work address. Within the body of the email I wrote (referring to this blog):

Truth is, it’s cathartic to write and vent. Of course I can’t say everything, or reveal everything, but everything there is true with as little bullshit as is humanly possible.

I wouldn’t usually include “BS” in the blog. It is probably the first time it’s here. Though crude, it’s not terrible as words go. Actually, it’s a perfectly good word to use, under the right circumstances, to convey strong emotion while making a point.

My email bounced back. To protect my friend, I’ll remove his address from the form that follows.

The following email message was blocked by MailMarshal:

From: me@geofffox.com


Subject: blog

Message: B4436f0400000.000000000001.0004.mml

Because it may contain unacceptable language, or inappropriate material.

If you believe the message is business related, please call {Desktop Support at xxx-xxx-xxxx} and request that the message be released, or remove any inappropriate language and send it again. If no contact is made within 5 days the message will be automatically deleted.

MailMarshal Rule: Inbound Spam and Languange : Block Unacceptable Language

Script Offensive Language (Basic) Triggered in Body

Expression: bullshit Triggered 1 times weighting 5

NetIQ MailMarshal

Email Content Security

That’ll teach me!

Of course this company was only trying to do the right thing by flagging that word. But, are computers advanced enough to let them make that decision? Was what I said “offensive” or just colorful and crude?

Oh – from the mail headers it seemed like the bounceback note containing the offended word was copied to him! So much for on-the-job protection.

I am somewhat more attuned to this today because of NSA/AT&T story that came out earlier today.

AT&T provided National Security Agency eavesdroppers with full access to its customers’ phone calls, and shunted its customers’ internet traffic to data-mining equipment installed in a secret room in its San Francisco switching center, according to a former AT&T worker cooperating in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit against the company.

Mark Klein, a retired AT&T communications technician, submitted an affidavit in support of the EFF’s lawsuit this week. That class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco last January, alleges that AT&T violated federal and state laws by surreptitiously allowing the government to monitor phone and internet communications of AT&T customers without warrants.

That’s a story which probably won’t go away quickly.

Blogger’s addendum: The word “language” is misspelled in the entry above because it is misspelled in the form, sent dozens of times a day.

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