British Library’s wi-fi blocks Hamlet as too violent

A man using the British Library’s wi-fi network was denied access to an online version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet because the text contained “violent content”.

Author Mark Forsyth was writing his book in the library, and needed to check a line from the famous play…

One security expert said the incident highlighted the “dysfunction” of internet filters…Mr Forsyth revealed on his blog that the filter had logged his attempt to access the page.

A spokesperson for the British Library said Hamlet had since been made accessible.

“The upgraded service has a web filter to ensure that inappropriate content cannot be viewed on-site,” he added…

Internet filters have recently come under increased scrutiny, after the government announced that pornography will be automatically blocked by UK internet providers, unless customers choose otherwise.

Digital rights activists raised concerns about the move, fearing that the lists of “banned” sites could be expanded to include pages that should be publicly available.

Prof Ross Anderson, a security expert at Cambridge University, told the BBC that internet filters were “pointless” and that it was “completely inappropriate” to have one in the British Library.

He added: “Everything that is legal should be available over the library’s wi-fi network. The only things they should block are the few dozen books against which there are court judgements in the UK.

“One of the functions of deposit libraries is to keep everything, including smut.”

The British Library defended its position with the inevitable political hack’s claim that it was “protecting children”. Crap rationale from tiny minds. I guess they deserve each other.

There already is an organization with the responsibility of deciding what children get to access. It’s called Parents.

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