The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Damage. Censorship. What's the difference?

The Net sees censorship as damage and routes around it.

John Gilmore

One of the services we offer is a manged firewall, and of course we have a few customers that have taken us up on this offer. Smirk called (Friday? Saturday? I forgot to take notes) saying that one of our customers wanted us to block access to MySpace. At the time I told Smirk I'd have to think about how to go about doing that, and when he called today asking for an update, I had to go ahead and do it.

The problem is though, that this is a stopgag measure. As it was, I just blocked access to MySpace IP addresses (found courtesy of host and whois) but what of the future, if (or when) they change IP addresses? Okay, we can fix that, but that's a reactionary response, not proactive.

Well, I could extend the fix through DNS—they use our DNS servers and I'm sure it's possible to put in a zone file such that anything at MySpace resolves to nothing (or say, to 127.0.0.1) such that if MySpace does change IP addresses it's still inaccessible unless you happen to know the new IP address.

So I could check the IP address periodically (say, every hour or so) which would probably work well.

But that still leaves the Google cache—I certainly can't block Google now, can I?

Okay, just blocking the IP address will probably suffice for this customer, and it takes someone with enough technical savvy to avoid these tactics, but you get an idea of just how hard it is to block a site.

Then there's the whole issue of companies treating employees like children but I won't get into that right now.

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