Hackers give Siemens mock 'award' for Net filter

The German hackers' group Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has presented its annual satiric Chaos CeBIT Award, at the CeBIT 2001 trade show, to Siemens AG for the company's "SmartFilter" software. The group said it was honoring Siemens's "special services" in the area of "Internet censorship and obstacles to communication."

SmartFilter is a Web filtering tool based on a "control list" of Web site categories and blocked sites. The software is implemented on Siemens's internal servers, and is also available for sale to external customers.

According to CCC, there is "a certain comedy" to SmartFilter's categorization of sites. The filter lists CCC under "criminal skills," so that Siemens employees and others using SmartFilter-equipped browsers or e-mail servers are unable to access the club's domain .ccc.de.

Further, the U.S. hacker magazine "2600" and the German Federal Government's Web site are both listed under "politics, opinion, and religion"; while the Web pages of Mitsubishi Electric Corp. -- a Siemens competitor -- are listed under "personal pages"; and Microsoft Corp.'s pages are not listed at all, CCC said.

CCC called it particularly troubling that the filter blocks labor unions' Web content, while allowing through that of industry associations representing employers.

"CCC is of the view that a filtered Internet goes against the basic right to free communication," the group said. "A filter for the Internet can further always be circumvented, when the pages are accessed via so-called proxies."

The prize "trophy" consists of a plastic coffee filter filled with colored chocolates. "Similarly as with SmartFilter, unfortunately not much comes through at the other end," CCC said.

"We are taking a sportsmanlike view," said a Siemens spokeswoman. "We accept it with humor."

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