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e-Chastity Belt

Can we really depend on the ubiquitous Internet when we need it?

February 21, 2000

Can we really depend on the ubiquitous Internet when we need it?

We recently provoked our own denial-of-access incident when we sought a rating of our new web site from the Recreational Software Advisory Council on the Internet (RSACi). A web site dedicated to exploring the economics and politics of globalization, we fully expected to receive the group’s highest rating — one that would allow our content to pass through even the strictest web content filter.

Instead, we were shocked to learn that we did not qualify for their best rating. Why? Because our site contained “partial nudity.” Yes, partial nudity. Needless to say, we too were shocked.

Lest we offend anyone with the rather graphic description of “partial nudity” that the RSACi uses to rate web sites, we’ll simply confess to our own lapse. In January 2000, we published a story, “The Naked Truth About Globalization,” that ran with a photograph of two, shall we say, fully bikini-clad women lying facedown on a beach in France.

The point of our seemingly harmless story was that even ardent opponents of globalization are sometimes willing to champion certain aspects of globalization, such as urging American beachgoers to be “more French.”

We did not give the picture a second thought until we attempted to register the site with the RSACi. But presented with their extremely “un-European” and “un-Latin American” assessment of U.S.-style “partial nudity,” we realized that our image ran afoul of their standards. Oops!

In the end, we removed the “offending” image (after all, we want as many people as possible to be able to view our site), and we hope to get back on the good side of the RSACi rating system soon.

But we must warn you: Until the RSACi updates its ratings database, web surfers who filter out sites containing “partial nudity” might be blocked from viewing