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UK security agency blacklists the terms “blacklist” and “whitelist” to “stamp out racism”

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The term “blacklist” has been blacklisted by UK’s National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), whose parent organization is the GCHQ. That’s like the equivalent of the USA’s NSA.

The purpose is to fight racism appearing in technical documentation. That’s the simplest way of putting it, now that blacklisting – and whitelisting – apps, websites, etc., from the outfit’s online documentation has been outlawed, and the decision explained.

As the world is struggling with the coronavirus lockdowns and finding ways to get lives and economies back on track, one of NCSC’s “customers” had other things to worry about: perhaps to take their mind off the huge global crisis for a minute, and amuse it with something else, the “customer” opted for policing language and imposing political correctness onto it.

And when they made the request to drop the words blacklisting and whitelisting, NCSC obeyed.

As far as NCSC is concerned, these two terms are now gone in favor of “allow list” and “deny list.”

It all makes sense: why use two words when you can use four?

All joking aside: the stated purpose of the exercise is to eradicate racist discourse, because black is apparently linked to bad, and white to good. Same, presumably, with light and dark, which in turn means there will be a lot more work to do for those idle hands.

An NCSC employee identified as Emma W (not a Karen) communicated the decision to the media, and asserted that replacing the expressions blacklisting and whitelisting – which have been around for about as long as computing and are perfectly unambiguous to those who need to use them – is a good thing just in general, not only in the context of fighting racism wherever it occurs, (and perhaps even where it doesn’t, like in established technical jargon in a website’s technical documentation.)

But this example of newspeak is, according to Emma W, “in fact clearer and less ambiguous.”

Another NCSC employee said anyone who didn’t like the change needn’t complain.

“If you’re thinking about getting in touch saying this is political correctness gone mad, don’t bother,” Ian Levy, the technical director, said – somewhat ambiguously. (Does he already know it is, in fact, political correctness gone mad and doesn’t need to hear it from you? Or is he completely unresponsive to any criticism?)

Either way – taxpayer money well spent here, do doubt. /S

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