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Filtering Technology Vs. The DOJ

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Originally posted by David from Truth, Justice, and the American Way,

As you might be aware, the government passed a law in 1998 banning porn on the net on the theory that porn filters don't work. Despite being overturned by the Supreme Court in 2004, the DOJ is trying to resurrect that law (see recent attempt to spy on Google searches). Of course, the state of the art in filter tech has evolved rapidly along with the rest of the computer industry since 1998.

A new filter called iShield is able to recognize porn images based on the content of the image (other filters look at URLs and text) and according to PC Magazine, is very effective at doing so. The next generation will probably be even better — which highlights the retarding effect regulation has on technological progress -- if we relied solely on government to ban "inappropriate" content from the web, we'd never know what solutions the market might come up with. The same principle applies to environmental regulations, which block more efficient and less-polluting technologies by mandating a particular technology.

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The Google blog contains the latest info on this case, including the original subpoena and the judges final order. The judge has not ruled on the original request from the government, but has told Google to provide a far smaller set of information which will be a sample and will not have any user-identifying data.

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