Is censorware blocking your blog?

If you host your blog on Blogger or Typepad, then there is a good chance corporate networks are blocking it. Even if you host your blog elsewhere, you should check whether it is being blocked.

I learned this today thanks to blawger Stuart Levine. After discovering that a brokerage house was blocking access to his blog, he posted a warning to the Network-Lawyers discussion list. In the ensuing discussion, another member of the list raised the issue of censorware and pointed to Secure Computing’s URL Checker, where you can determine whether specific URLs are on the company’s lists of blocked sites.

Having now searched a number of URLs, I can safely say that this company appears to block all blogs hosted on Blogger or Typepad. Here’s the explanation it provides when you enter a BlogSpot or Typepad URL:

“The site you submitted resides on a Web page hosting server that provides Web page hosting for their users such as homepages that share a common domain. These sites include those provided by ISPs, University/education servers, free Web page hosts, etc. Although many of these Web page providers post rules and regulations for content, they do not always adequately monitor this content. Users often abuse Web page services by posting offensive content under multiple pseudonyms.

“Because this category contains hundreds of millions of pages, it is not practical to assign more granular categorization to individual pages. However, any page can be added to your local block and allow list, enabling access to specific content even if the category has been selected to be blocked. Local block or allow lists are maintained at the discretion of your local network administration. You can reach your network administration by contacting those that provide our filtering for you, whether that be your school, Internet Service Provider, or place of employment.”

I use Blogger to post, but do not host my blog there. Thus, I was surprised that, when I searched the URL of my home page, www.legaline.com, I found it listed as blocked under the category “electronic commerce,” which it describes this way:

“Sites that allow users to make online purchases. Many e-commerce sites pose a risk to users by offering direct access to items that would normally be filtered under other categories such as Weapons, Profanity, Lingerie, or Pornography.”

They caught me! They have discovered that my site is actually a front for selling weapons and lingerie — not. I wrote to the company this morning and asked that my site be “unblocked.” So far, no reply.

How many other bloggers have their sites blocked? Check yours. If you make the list, let me know. At least I’ll know I’m in good company.