I said yesterday in my blog post that I would be sending a letter today to the President of the European Parliament, protesting about the blocking of certain emails from citizens to their elected representatives.
I would have hoped to have sent this letter in the morning today, and I am still working on getting it sent today, but since I am working from home in Stockholm, I have run into a problem:
The European Parliament blocks certain emails that I am trying to send from email@example.com to my own office address firstname.lastname@example.org or to colleagues inside the parliament.
Not all emails get blocked, but all my attempts to send my draft letter to the President to my office address have been silently blocked by the filter. I suspect the reason is that in the draft, I mention the name of the report — ”eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU”.
My guess, without knowing any details about the parliament’s filtering system, but understanding the basic principle behind Bayesian spam filtering, is that the word ”gender” phrase ”gender stereotypes” (which is quite distinct in this case) probably triggers the filter on all or most occasions. This is of course only a guess, but still:
It appears that today, on International Women’s Day, the European Parliament is silently blocking all or most emails that contain the phrase ”gender stereotypes”.
Welcome to the wonderful world of internet blocking in the EU. And to yet another demonstration of what censorship means in practice.
Update: In the original version of this post I suggested that the word ”gender” (alone) might be the culprit, but a test email containing the ”g word” just got through to the europarl address from an activist in Portugal, so perhaps the filter is not quite as simple as I thought. But when I try to resend my own draft letter (which contains the phrase ”gender stereotypes”) to the europarl address, it still gets blocked.
Upon reflection, the word ”stereotypes” is almost certainly just as distinctive as ”gender”, so it is reasonable to think that the filter probably looks at both of those words. I have updated the post and the title to say ”gender stereotypes” instead of just ”gender”, accordingly.
Update 3: To clarify, I did the following experiment: I took the letter I had been trying to send all day and replaced the phrase ”gender stereotypes” with ”market barriers”, so that the title of the report read ”eliminating market barriers in the EU”. Then the mail got through immediately. After this, I made yet another attempt to resend the same mail but with the original title of the report. This mail again disappeared without a trace, and with no notice given to either sender or recipient, just as it had on the previous two occasions.
Update 2: It’s now Friday evening and the europarl mailbox is unattended, so there is no point in sending further test mails, unfortunately. :)