Monday, 4 August 2008

New Humanist safe from Birmingham Council's web filter

Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.

Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

Hats off to the blogger in charge of Heresy Corner for injecting a bit of common sense into the row over Birmingham City Council's new web filter, which was last week reported to be blocking websites associated with atheism.

Digging deeper into the story, the blogger points out that sites were not blocked because of some local government vendetta against atheism, but rather because Birmingham Council has introduced a new web-filtering system called Blue Coat, a piece of American software which allows administrators to block certain categories of web content. The council blocked Category 22, which bizarrely lumps atheism in with Satanism, witchcraft and voodoo. As the blogger says, this is probably more indicative of US attitudes towards atheism than atttitudes among Birmingham bureaucrats.

The Heresy Corner blogger then goes on to test the Blue Coat status of various well-known "atheist" websites, including our own, finding that none of them come under Category 22. New Humanist is classed as "news/media", the National Secular Society are both "religion" and "society/ daily living" and the British Humanist Association are listed as "Cultural/ charitable organizations".

Not a great deal to panic about then.

2 comments:

Bob said...

Given your analysis of this issue, surely there is an option missing amongst the sensible choices in your poll on the subject.

Somewhere between heavy-duty campaigning on the one hand ("legal action" or letters to "local and national newspapers") and "resign immediately" on the other hand, wouldn't an option like "Complain to the managers"? be more conducive of good collegiality.

Paul Sims said...

To be honest Bob, I was always up for forming that cult with the Satanists and the sexual deviants. And then I remembered I don't actually work for Birmingham Council.