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Net Nannies

Or not designed, depending. This wonderful missive was received from Bell Helicopters:

Trend SMEX Content Filter has detected sensitive content.

Place = IBM-MAIN@BAMA.UA.EDU; ; ; IBM Mainframe Discussion List
Sender = Phil Payne
Subject = Re: z/OS upgrade strategy
Delivery Time = June 17, 2002 (Monday) 09:22:39
Policy = Sexual Discrimination
Action on this mail = Quarantine message

Warning message from administrator:
Sender, This message was blocked as inappropriate, offensive
or prohibited material was detected. This violates Bell
Helicopter Information Security policies and will not be
transmitted. Please contact the Helpdesk at x-13451 with any

And what blatant sexual discrimination triggered this event? The following message - which may be described perhaps as terminally boring, but has no sexual overtones that this poor human can detect:

> I think many people are waiting to hear your reply.

They've seen it now. As long as you take the heat for bringing this back here - it's usually me that gets flamed.

> >Everyone on the group seems to think:
> >a) That I have some relationship with Fundamental. Untrue.

> Did you not at one time last year?

No cash. One return back-of-bus air ticket and some entertainment.

I did have a relationship with two IBM Business Partners in Germany last year, primarily to understand the way the channel works for small and medium mainframe users. Or doesn't.

> I know you raise points of concern that are valid points of discussion.
> It's just the way you tell 'em.

Of course, if you don't get any answers you have to keep asking. How many times did Jeremy Paxman repeat his question to Michael Howard?


My reaction precisely. The cause seemed to be my energetic investigation of the reason for the Redbook chapter being deleted when I was in the USA in April.

> Have you had any communication with the list moderator about your
> banishment?

None whatever. But I was never told I was being moderated, nor were the other members told that I was. Not being told I was banned was par for the course. The home page still describes the group as 'unmoderated' and it most certainly is not. There is a tendency not to acknowledge the truth on Hercules-390 - be it about censorship of the forum, intellectual property or software licensing. Since the penalties for the latter are severe (and can include imprisonment in the UK) I feel it unfair on new participants for those who know the true situation to sweep the issue under the carpet.

The attitude seems to be that piracy is OK unless IBM finds out, in which case they'll bitch and moan and stop you. That's OK as long as it is IBM that finds out and not FAST or the BSA - then you might wind up being allowed one phone call.

A (small) prize is offered for the most convincing description of the sexual discrimination contained in the above. The simplest suggestion so far is that the word 'bitch' triggered a naughty word filter. The best so far is that "a relationship with two IBM Business Partners" triggered a more complex piece of AI designed to detect erotica about blue-suited threesomes.

There's a serious point. There are a lot of mailing lists around the world such as the IBM-MAIN mailing list at the University of Alabama, which are primarily used for business purposes - peer advice and review. Many (including IBM-MAIN) have a digest mode that sends each day's traffic to subscribers in a single package. Those who access these lists in digest mode from behind a net nanny email interface cannot be certain of receiving any particular day's output - a single occurence of a word common in UK primary school playgrounds may block the whole thing. So such people will inevitably start to use non-digest mode - adding significantly to the load on email servers and other resources.

Another amusement - I referred to the "Wankel" engine on a car club bulletin board - the bulletin board software has substituted '****el'. I wonder why? At least one reader thought I was trying to say 'diesel' - such misunderstandings could be dangerous. I just tried again - it makes nonsense of the sentence from Audi's RS6 announcement: "Nick- und Wankbewegungen werden nahezu eliminiert"

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