Re: [Pearg] descriptive censorship work: draft-hall-censorship-tech

Vittorio Bertola <> Thu, 23 May 2019 10:59 UTC

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Date: Thu, 23 May 2019 12:58:59 +0200
From: Vittorio Bertola <>
Reply-To: Vittorio Bertola <>
To: Mallory Knodel <>,
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Subject: Re: [Pearg] descriptive censorship work: draft-hall-censorship-tech
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> Il 23 maggio 2019 10:51 Mallory Knodel <> ha scritto:
> Maybe it's the connotation or interpretation of the word "censorship"
> that is getting in the way. It's all censorship, but some of it might be
> legitimate (literally in accordance with law and norms).

You are right that the definition of "censorship" in section 1 is so broad that any suppression of any content would fall within its scope. However, most people would associate the term "censorship" with the negative use cases(*), or at least with use cases where the suppression is motivated by the opinions and information communicated through the content, rather than by its form or its pertinence to the context. In common talk, I don't think that anyone would consider stuff like (e.g.) removing off-topic posts from a discussion forum, blocking traffic from a virus trying to replicate itself, or preventing access to an online pharmacy that does not have the appropriate licenses, as censorship.

Now, if you only want to provide a survey of technologies, it could be enough to state at the beginning that there are also acceptable uses of these technologies but you will only focus on the negative ones. However, I am afraid that, coupled with the broad definition of censorship, this might still give the impression to the reader that this is a list of things that are bad in themselves, and also it will not be very useful research for subsequent application in the IETF space, as the difficult part is what should a protocol designer or implementer do when having to cope with these techniques.


(*) I am using moral terms such as negative and positive because I guess that in authoritarian countries political censorship is "literally legitimate" :-) though this is also one of the hot policy issues, i.e. whether the IETF should work to disrupt some country's laws when they mandate censorship-the-one-we-all-really-dislike.
Vittorio Bertola | Head of Policy & Innovation, Open-Xchange 
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