Jan. 5, 2005, 5:28 p.m.
IT | Rants

Society getting too conservative?

Everybody knows that SPAM caused the IT industry to respond with content filtering techniques and SPAM blocking techniques to help control this useless waste of bandwidth and irritation factor.

Same with large files. Bored employees are sending lots of 1MB+ mails containing the latest movie or powerpoint presentation of some joke. This obviously does not help the IT budget. So they either block certain content such as MPEG files or park them for late delivery.

What about employees visiting non-work related web sites? Surfing non-business related web sites wastes available bandwidth for important business related work. So IT departments block access to sites not deemed work related. And here I started discovering the first encounter what I now call "IT paranoia". At a large company I sometimes consult for, which houses easily a hundered developers - many of which write code in Java, I once tried to browse for information on one of the well known java sites. Their proxy server denied me access because it was non-business related. This impeded quite a bit on my productivity.

Then on another occasion I tried to send an email to one of their employees - whose surname is de Jesus. I said something to the lines of:

Dear Mr. De Jesus,


I got a mail from their Mail Marshall telling me that the email was blocked due to bad language. And the word was "Jesus".

Then today, I sent an email to an employee of another company. My mail contained this:

... or something more kinky, at least ...

I got this response:

From: mailadmin@XXX.co.za
Date: 5 January 2005 14:17:07 GMT+02:00
To: wn@XXX.co.za
Cc: YYY@XXX.co.za
Subject: Your email message was blocked
MailMarshal (an automated content monitoring gateway) has stopped the following email for the following reason:

It believes it may contain unacceptable language, or inappropriate material.

Message: BA00a42a45.00000001.mml
From: wn@XXX.co.za
To: YYY@XXX.co.za
Subject: Re: Purchase query

Please remove any inappropriate language and send it again.

The blocked email will be automatically deleted after 5 days.

MailMarshal Rule: ZZZ Inbound : Block Unacceptable Language
Script ZZZ Offensive Language Triggered in Body
Expression: kinky Triggered 1 times weighting 5

For more information on email virus scanning, security and content
management, visit http://www.marshalsoftware.com

My question is this - are we not getting so overprotective and overaggressive with our filtering rules that we are actually impeding on normal business activities and respecting the rights of people? What the hell is wrong with using the word "kinky" in a normal, playful response to one of your clients?

The world has become a sad place...