Bluecoat :(

We have a net nanny at work now, Bluecoat. Leaving aside the right of the net nannies to do as they wish, and the dubious merits of browsing these sites on work time, the filtering categories seems inconsistent and prejudiced at best. The many categories that Bluecoat will filter includes the following, as quoted from the official Bluecoat definitions (emphasis added):

Alternative Spirituality/Occult - Sites that promote and provide information on religions such as Wicca, Witchcraft or Satanism. Occult practices, atheistic views, voodoo rituals or any other form of mysticism are represented here. Includes sites that endorse or offer methods, means of instruction, or other resources to affect or influence real events through the use of spells, incantations, curses and magic powers. This category includes sites which discuss or deal with paranormal or unexplained events

"Atheistic views...or any other form of mysticism"???? Isn't it a bit incongruous to lump atheistic sites with the occult?

The net nannies have also chosen to block the following class of sites:

Religion - Sites that promote and provide information on conventional or unconventional religious or quasi-religious subjects, as well as churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship. Does not include sites about alternative religions such as Wicca or witchcraft (Alternative Spirituality/Occult), or atheist beliefs (Political/Activist Groups).

This definition defines atheist beliefs as political or activist (which I also disagree with), not Alternative Spirituality / Occult. But in addition to that internal inconsistency, the obvious and more important question is why are religious sites are allowed, but occult sites are not? Isn't Wicca a religion? Don't Occultists and Wiccans get the same religious access as everyone else? Don't atheists get the same non-religious access? Maybe it's only activist atheists that are otherwise defined, but what of activist ministries? I haven't yet met a Wiccan that I know of, but isn't freedom or religion one of the founding principles of this country?

Should you try to avoid the net nanny, beware, the following class of sites is also prohibited.

Proxy Avoidance - Sites that provide information on how to bypass proxy server/appliance features or gain access to URLs in any way that bypasses the proxy server/appliance. This category includes any service which attempts to allow a person to bypass the Blue Coat filtering system, such as anonymous surfing services.

The following types of sites are blocked

Sexuality/Alternative Lifestyles - Sites that provide information, promote, or cater to gays, lesbians, swingers, other sexual orientations or practices, or a particular fetish. This category does not include sites that are sexually gratuitous in nature which would typically fall under the Pornography category.

It sounds like they are blocking informational sites with the above definition. Why would they do that only for gays and lesbians? I guess straight folks are the only ones that might want to search for occasional sexual health information?

Finally, they've managed to join the uninformed masses and mistake a hack for a crack. Additionally, this definition is broad enough to include many Linux distributions, among other useful tools.

Hacking - Sites that distribute, promote, or provide hacking tools and/or information which may help gain unauthorized access to computer systems and/or computerized communication systems. Hacking encompasses instructions on illegal or questionable tactics, such as creating viruses, distributing cracked or pirated software, or distributing other protected intellectual property.

I'm tagging this amusing, but it's only sadly amusing.


  1. We have Bluecoat too. The worst thing about it for me is that it does not play well with Google Mail. I can check my Google Mail, but if I leave it for a while, it "hangs" and I can't do anything more with it until I reopen Google Mail in a new window.

    I have been blocked from two sites that I wanted to access: the LA Times and Dinosaur Comics. I complained about the first blockage and it was removed. I didn't have the courage to complain about the second blockage, but it was mysteriously lifted anyway.

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