Covert Censorship on the Web

by Gia Cosindas

© 2005 by Gia Cosindas

“ An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow citizens.” – Thomas Jefferson, (1743-1826), US Founding Father, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, 3rd US President. Source: letter to John Melish, January 13, 1813.

Do private companies and business entities in the business of making information available on the web abuse the First Amendment rights of the rest of the country when they engage in censorship of information on their sites?

Google banned Loompanics from their AdWord program over a year ago. We had no sooner gotten excited about being able to use ad words on Google, when Google decided that we violated their “editorial guidelines” and bumped us off. We were disappointed, but not all that surprised. It isn't as though we aren't used to that kind of thing after all this time. We're banned more often than not.

Not that we have all that much in the way of sexually explicit material-we don't. We carry a few Tijuana Bibles, some instructional sexual material and a few books for and about sex workers. Not exactly the stuff that would make Loompanics a mondo sex site. But if we were, Google would have a place for us on their Adult Content site. Maybe…

No, it is our other information, the far-less-mainstream-than-sex information. The drug books that counter the line touted by the government and their War on Drugs propaganda, personal privacy, as in identity books, weapons, and explosives books. Information that some people evidently think should not be available for the sating of curiosity and wonder.

One of our authors, Uncle Fester, has been dialoging with Google employees, (or robots being passed off as employees) for months over their interpretation of what is allowable as an ad on their site and what isn't. Guidelines apparently only serve as a very loose structure that Google interprets according to which way thecorporate/political winds are blowing. At this time, most of the freedoms Americans are used to enjoying have been blown off the map by those same corporate/political winds.