The Memory Hole – Bagged And Tagged?

Russ Kick at The Memory Hole believes the military has banned his site from their networks in Iraq. Trying to access the site results in the following message:

Access Denied (content_filter_denied)

Your request was denied because of its content categorization: “Extreme;Politics/Religion”

For assistance, contact your network support team.It’s the Rumsfeld camera phone ban hysteria all over again as other sites pile on. The first assumption is that there is some deep dark hidden conspiracy to keep soldiers from visiting The Memory Hole, yet no one has examined the most likely explanation.

From the content presented it appears that access to The Memory Hole was blocked by one of the many commercial content filtering companies. Very few companies or government agencies hand maintain blocklists anymore, and these kinds of generic categorization messages are the tell-tale signs of one of the multitudes of commercial content filtering products. From the text I can’t tell which, but it’s most assuredly a content filter between the army.mil network and the rest of the Internet.

If you are a blogger (or run a website) you really should keep tabs on what the major content filtering companies have to say about your site – you may be shocked. Almost every content filtering company allows you to search their database and find the classification of a URL. In short order I found the inquiry page for the following 3 popular content filtering companies: Websense , Secure Computing, Surf Control.

As for the administrative end of the content filters, administrators pick the categories they want to block access to and the software company is responsible for providing the URL based content classifications. If you are trying to reverse a block you can contact the individual administrators (who can do overrides), but your time will be better spent trying to get your site reclassified by the software vendor. A change at the classification source will automatically change your standing at all of their customers sites.

Update: This comment at J-Walk Blog pretty much confirms that it’s not a unique situation to the military:

It is banned due to being blocked by a commercial site blocking policy. I get the same ban message when accessing the site from my work computer.

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2 Comments

  1. Marble June 2, 2004
  2. Venomous Kate June 2, 2004