Christian Engström, Pirat

8 mars 2013

European Parliament blocks emails containing the words ”gender stereotypes” on International Women’s Day

Filed under: demokrati i eu,English — Christian Engström @ 15:02

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 to my own office address 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. 🙂

15 kommentarer

  1. You European Union folk are pretty funny. It’s little wonder how you get anything done. Knowing what I do about the EU and all the complexities of its monetary, fiscal and social policies, I doubt such a motion would pass because its too vague and ambiguous. It will certainly not get the support of the Dutch or the Danish who are big on free expression, nor the Italians French and Spanish who are big on passion lust and romance. The Brits are too prudent to even consider a vote that may limit individual rights. From reading your own posting, I doubt the Swedish will go for it either. In my opinion, it is much ado about nothing.

    Kommentar av Slap Dog Hoops (SDH) — 8 mars 2013 @ 15:34

  2. This is quite ridiculous. And probably illegal.

    Although you should have learned by know that official communications to the President of the European parliament should be sent by fax or other modern communication methods.

    Kommentar av Johan Tjäder — 8 mars 2013 @ 15:39

  3. Let’s give credit where credit is due. It is the IT department, not the Parliament that manages the e-mail filters. Sure there can be dodging and finger pointing, but it comes down to who is running the mail servers. It’s also a sign that they are out of control since this has been going on uncorrected since yesterday.

    Kommentar av Horse Pill — 8 mars 2013 @ 16:05

  4. How do you know it didn’t block ‘eliminating’? Well done on making a story out of nothing.

    Kommentar av Ben Norris (@Norro21) — 8 mars 2013 @ 16:53

  5. Reblogged this on Urbansundstrom’s Weblog.

    Kommentar av urbansundstrom — 8 mars 2013 @ 17:12

  6. why not just try sending the mail again with the word ”gender” removed and then you’d know for sure.

    Kommentar av jorma — 8 mars 2013 @ 17:18

  7. In case you don’t already know, there is a report about gender identity made by the European Council. I know it’s NOT the Parliament, but anyway, this censorship looks… ironic, weird, disturbing, scandalous… ?

    The book is ”Discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Europe”. Available as PDF for free on several third-party websites and as physical book for 9 €/$ 18 ( ).

    Some translations were also published, in Russian and French.

    Kommentar av Mathias Poujol-Rost — 8 mars 2013 @ 18:58

  8. […] du Parlement, cosigne avec une dpute de l’Alliance des dmocrates et des libraux (ADLE). Il a galement ironis dans un nouvel article sur la faon dont des messages contenant le mot genre sont automatiquement bloqus, alors que le […]

    Pingback av Un blocage de courriels dénoncé au Parlement européen | Le Figaro | Actualités des Journaux — 8 mars 2013 @ 20:18

  9. I have been unable to send (another) e-mail today but later in the night i will, when i get more time to myself. Thanks to Christian and others, i will rewrite certain parts of the message to ”test” it and see if it goes through. I might send some messages individually to certain MEP’s, even if they are not my country. Let’s hope that they see it on Monday.

    Kommentar av Pedro Miguel — 8 mars 2013 @ 20:46

  10. Christian, DN tilldelar dig titeln ”bloggare”.

    Kommentar av Sam — 9 mars 2013 @ 10:14

  11. Sam: Nej, Christians blogg uppmärksammades inte ens. Länken i DN går inte hit.

    Kommentar av gurra — 9 mars 2013 @ 11:06

  12. DN-artikeln är nu uppdaterad. Förut var det ”bloggare”, nu är det ”förkämpar för yttrandefrihet” och ”Christian Engström”.

    Kommentar av Sam — 9 mars 2013 @ 15:37

  13. […] IT osakond miskipärast lisas ühe konkreetse fraasi oma saadikute e-kirjade spämmifiltrisse[5] – „soolised stereotüübid“ (gender stereotypes). See, et antud fraasi lisamine langes […]

    Pingback av Järelsõna pornograafiale – Vabadus & Võrdsus — 12 mars 2013 @ 22:21

  14. […] Anscheinend können selbst Abgeordnete des Europäischen Parlaments nicht frei miteinander kommunizieren. Die ganze Geschichte hier. […]

    Pingback av Zensur selbst im Europäischen Parlament | Tipps und Tricks — 27 mars 2013 @ 16:12

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