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[ NNSquad ] Re: Mall's Wi-Fi blocks "adult" content -- is 900 a synonym for "adult"
900's numbers are very interesting example here at so many levels: Does 900 mean "billed to caller" or does 900 mean "pornography"? So the number may very well be about pornography because of the ambiguity that stems from the silo business model. As Lauren notes 900 numbers are billed to the caller and that's a very different critter from simply providing transport. That would be like confusing a water fountain with a bar (one that serves drinks as opposed to one that serves up legal opinions). If 900 numbers had end-to-end billing so you could choose to use a credit card rather than automatically billing it to the phone then it would be no different from any other phone call. The mall wouldn't pay and it would be the same thing as calling a store to place an order. But it isn't the same. The bill is tied to a silo that associates the number with the billing rate. This was part of the carriers' attempt to replace credit cards by being the billing service. It turned out very badly because building billing into the transport only worked for pornography and psychic hotlines where customers didn't expect flexibility. Which brings us to the fact that now 900 numbers are implicitly associated with pornography to the point that the question may very well be asking if the mall should permit calls to obvious porn, aka 900 numbers. It is this kind of implicit coupling that frustrates policy discussion because we associate business with the technologies. Radio, Broadband and 900 numbers have implicit semantics we must be wary of. Note that France had a similar billing scheme for Minitel - associating the rate with the number. I presume they had more flexible customer support but, in the end, it was too rigid to compete with the Internet. Yet we keep the silo model as we see in the peering tiffs. PS: Building knowledge into the number recalls the days when your CompuServe ID was an octal disk address. Encoding information into identifiers turned out to be a bad idea. Relational databases caught on because they decoupled us from these accidental properties. Same as decoupling content from transport. (http://rmf.vc/?n=BeyondLimits for more on decoupling). With so any compelling examples why do we keep ourselves stuck in the past? Yet we see this idea arise again in .XXX. Not only is this an architectural problem -- it doesn't acknowledge the ambiguity. As Lauren has noted, is calling you doctor from the mall and talking about a genital rash considered inappropriate? Is talking about a rash on your face acceptable? [ Bob raises an interesting point -- 900 numbers were originally touted as a wonderful customer support mechanism and for all manner of other mundane applications -- but ended up as sex lines and little else (even now some 800 numbers forward into 900 numbers, with painful results for the caller). I don't remember using the "rash" example (I avoid rashes whenever possible on general principles) but the bottom line issue is clear enough. The U.S. telecom landscape, especially in terms of the Internet, is much less a reliable infrastructure or utility and much a array of fiefdoms -- some tiny, some gigantic. This wouldn't be so bad -- after all, the Internet is by definition a "network of networks" -- but the range of important -- even critical -- applications now on the Net globally have caused users to think in terms of The Net being more like a utility -- and understandably. So when we're faced with unilateral actions -- a mall arbitrarily deciding you can't connect to certain sites. The federal government using the domain name system as an arm of asset forfeiture (and even censorship) -----Original Message----- From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Dave Kristol Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:13 To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: [ NNSquad ] Re: Mall's Wi-Fi blocks "adult" content > [...] > [ Here's a thought experiment. If a mall offered free telephone > service for their patrons around the mall, through handsets placed at > various locations, would similar restrictions be acceptable? If a > customer tried to call a local abortion clinic or an "adult toys" > store from one of those phones, would it be reasonable for the system > to cut in and say, "I'm sorry, we will not complete your call as > dialed, since we consider the business you are calling to not meet our > ethical standards -- CLUNK." ? > Is this fundamentally different from the Wi-Fi situation? Even more to > the point, what if you were trying to call a store in the mall itself > when this happened? Continuing the thought experiment, must the free phone service provider allow 900 calls to go through? Does the provider have no rights to limit the service provided? Is it all or nothing? Dave Kristol [ 900 calls have an extra charge associated with them. Blocking them would be entirely reasonable. The topic under discussion is the blocking of destinations based largely on the "moral" determinations of the party providing the service. Again, would such phone call blocking of the sort I described above be considered acceptable in any public contexts? My bet is that most people would be outraged. So why is this any different than blocking particular Wi-Fi sites that are engaged in legal operations? I'd like a "pro-blocking" reader to address this comparision directly, if you can. -- Lauren Weinstein NNSquad Moderator ]