Sometimes things happen that are so stupid that I’m not quite sure what to say:
Ferry riders using BC Ferries free WiFi service are out of luck if they want to buy condoms online or research where to get an abortion. That’s because BC Ferries online web filters are designed to block any websites about “sex education and abortion”, along with those for sites like pornography, hate speech and piracy.
Although I’m puzzled as to the circumstances under which you’d need information about abortion or condoms on a 2-hour ferry ride, I’m even more baffled by why anybody would bother to block such sites. Were there complaints lodged against frequent abortion searchers? Did someone abandon their laptop and have some poor Amish kid who’d never heard of condoms before wander over and accidentally see a picture of something that suggested sex?
From a consequentialist point of view, this is really a non-issue. Information about abortions and condoms is easily available just about anywhere in the major cities, and given that most kids have ready access to the internet at home and at school, and get semi-decent sex ed in their high school classes, banning access to these kinds of sites really won’t have a negative impact on anyone. The part that’s disturbing is the company these sites supposedly keep:
The list of blocked content categories includes typical filtered items like “child porn”, “hate speech”, “illegal activities” and “non-sexual nudity” along with bandwidth-hogging content like “streaming media” and “file transfer services”. But the list also includes any sites about abortion, a legal medical service in B.C., and sex education, which is part of the B.C. curriculum.
BC Ferries spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said the ferry corporation decided to block such material because it feared websites about abortion or sex education might contain inappropriate photos.
Is Craigslist filtered? Is Reddit? Is 4chan? If you want to find inappropriate images, those are pretty decent one-stop shops. Not only that, but depending on your definition of “inappropriate”, Google image search will yield some… well you be the judge.
It seems like a bizarrely arbitrary line to draw, and this particular grab-bag of issues smacks of political gamesmanship.
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