21 January 2011

RIM Blocks Porn on BlackBerry Smartphones in Indonesia...


All hail to the Anti-Pornography King, TitS!

TitS (aka Tifatul Sembiring) has seemingly won the battle with RIM. RIM have not only agreed to block pornography from their BlackBerry Smartphones, but they have gone even further by simply adopting the filtering system developed by the Nawala Project.

This filtering system blocks out all content that is considered to be not only pornographic, but that content that is considered to be related to gambling, phishing / malware, and SARA (this is a term that relates to anything involving religion, ethnicity, race, or inter-group relations). The filter is very broad, which means that many Indonesians will not be able to access sites through their BlackBerry devices that are harmless.

It must be pointed out that the Nawala project is an Indonesia created open-source filtering service that has been in operation since 2009. It is the filtering service of choice for all of Indonesia's telecommunications providers, and it is the one that is being touted by the Ministry of Communication and Information.

The use of the Nawala Project filtering system by RIM is a cost-effective way of meeting the demands for a porn filter from the Minister for [Mis]Communication and [Mis]Information. It is cost effective because it is open-source and it is free. Although, it would seem that Irwin Day, Deputy Head of Public Relations at the Nawala Project, is contemplating that RIM might make some financial contribution to the ongoing development of the technology.

What's next? Well, the porn filter issue was really only a pre-cursor to a much larger battle in TitS' war against RIM. The Minister wants a server, or at least an aggregator, to be built in Indonesia. The rationale is a simple one; Indonesia is the biggest user of RIM BlackBerry devices in Southeast Asia and has earned the right to have the server / aggregator built in Indonesia. For Indonesian subscribers, the belief is that a server here will reduce BlackBerry tariffs. In contrast, the Minister wants the RIM server here because he believes that it will make it easier for his Ministry to track corruption and terrorism suspects and their communications.

If RIM stands true to form then it would be reasonable to expect them to fold on that demand as well. I wonder how long it will be before RIM and its Managing Director for this part of the world, Gregory Wade, are announcing their plans to build a server in Jakarta?

If TitS is giving all his praise to Allah for allowing him a victory in the filter battles, then one can only imagine how much beside himself he will be when RIM announces that it is building a server in Indonesia. It might just be enough to send him into the arms of Vicky Vette and another happy ending!

Then again, one day, and perhaps one day soon, TitS will realise that for all his small victories in battles on the war on porn that he is fighting a losing fight. Internet pornography will always be there as will those with an appetite for it and the desire to develop mechanisms to access it. The porn industry is very much like Medusa's head in that for every snake you cut off, another one grows back in its place (I am sure someone is going to want to argue the point about severing Medusa's head altogether, right?).

7 comments:

ryosaeba said...

by simply using Nawala but the other end of proxy is still in Canada, it will confuse location based servers. for instance Detik's dedicated international link server traffic went to near zero, and yet the real traffic still comes from Canada, because Nawala gives a local Indonesia located IP address for detik server.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Ryosaeba...

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment. It will take a little time for me to work that one out. For the technologically challenged like me, it is a matter of working out why Detik's server traffic went to zero if it was BlackBerry that was being filtered.

If you care to elaborate, I am sure to appreciate a more detailed explanation (or point me to a link that explains it) :D

Cheers.

trugiaz said...

"This filtering system blocks out all content that is considered to be not only pornographic, but that content that is considered to be related to gambling, phishing / malware, and SARA (this is a term that relates to anything involving religion, ethnicity, race, or inter-group relations)."

Is FPI.or.id getting filtered? as it is related to SARA? and in some cases hate speech?

Rob Baiton said...

@ Trugiaz...

Good question. I have not checked. And, to be honest, I am not in Indonesia or a BlackBerry user to be able to find out.

My guess is that it is not blocked.

ryosaeba said...

Rob, I'll try to explain, please pardon my technical language. It is about geolocation.

When an internet connected device try to connect to a server, it would send the domain name (eg: www.detik.com) to a DNS server. It usually works by querying who's in charge of the domain, then it will query the server in charge, in this case the detik server.

Before the filter, RIM's DNS server will query detik's server for the IP address of www.detik.com for example. In turn, detik server will detect the IP address of the query (Canadian IP address), and because the IP comes from abroad, detik server will return the IP address of its server that are connected to the international link. The traffic will flow from detik to RIM's proxy in Canada through the international link.

After the filter, RIM simply redirects its Indonesian user query to Nawala. If it's not already in its cache, Nawala will query detik server, and thinking the IP address of Nawala is local, detik server will give the IP address of the locally connected server. But the other end of the RIM's internet connected proxy is at Canada, so the locally connected detik server is actually serving an international traffic, but not through the international link. In turn, detik's international link connection which serves about 3 million BB users goes unused.

It can be fixed though, either by instructing Nawala to give the IP address of international linked detik server when it detects the query comes from a BB device, or moving the other end of the internet connected proxy to Indonesia (which is under RIM's control).

Hope this explains.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Ryosaeba...

Got it! Thanks :)

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It will not really have success, I feel this way.