Yesterday while online at my local Caribou Coffee, which is a store within the Caribou corporate headquarters building in Brooklyn Center, I had an infuriating experience trying to access Shower Curtain Chronicles. My blog downloaded but without about eight photos that accompanied eight posts. I supspected it was an error by Blogger owing to past poor service, however, when I clicked on one of the blank rectangles where a photo should be I got a page that said something to the effect of, "BLOCKED BY WANDERING WIFI FILTERING." What? Blocked?
I should point out that none of the photos contained anything that could be considered by any sane person to be remotely objectionable. The blocked photos included: publicity photos of politicians, photos of a my picket signs, a photo of an antique car exhibit and a beautiful stock photo of the Minnesota Capitol.
There is a door at this Caribou Coffee that leads into their corporate offices that is used by employees and requires an access card. So, not having a access card, I followed an employee through the door to try and find someone who could explain to me why my blog was being edited by agents of this corporation. The receptionist that I presented my complaint to gave me the phone number of their wireless internet supplier. I thanked her and left (through the front door) to go outside and back into the cafe through its front door.
I immediately called the number of the internet provider, "Wandering Wifi" and got a young man with a southern drawl; the company is located in Atlanta. He said his company contracts with another company that provides them with filtering services and that if I gave him my blog's address, he would get my photo files restored, which he did. He apologized profusely and provided me with a full day's access to wifi at that Caribou Coffee. Like I'm gonna sit there all day...I had already wasted the morning trying to find out what the hell had happened to my blog. This happy blow-off, of course, fixes nothing.
WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE EDITING MY BLOG!? Remember, they didn't block my site, they edited things out of it, without rhyme or reason. Outrage! So my question to the nice young man remained "why." Why were these particular photos blocked and why is this company messing with my blog in the first place?! He simply didn't have an explanation but said that he would submit my site address to what he explained as a small group of people that would review my blog for removal from their blocked list. When I pressed my question again, he read down a list of their criteria for blocking which included: hate, pornography, sex education and a continuing litany of utterly subjective, ludicrously nebulous terms who's meaning no two people would agree on. But this small group of people in Atlanta, Georgia and the geek who runs the filtering software decide what EVERYONE using the wifi at Caribou Coffee cannot see, like pictures and antique cars and the Minnesota Capitol and face shots of politicians. I began to rant about how unAmerican and unconstitutional the whole thing was and hung up.
Censorship is bad enough when some entity totally blocks the intellectual property of others, but to have your work just stupidly and indisciminantly hacked up, even temporarily, the way mine was by Caribou Coffee is just vandalism and it should be prosecuted as such. Not gonna happen.
So you think you have free speech?
Labels: Caribou, edit