Army can't be arsed

Harsh language is not acceptable in the army, or at least in its email.

Harsh language is not acceptable in the army, or at least in its email.

Last week the email issue of Russell Brown's Hard News was sent as usual to the mailing list. At least one member of the army requested a copy but it was blocked by the Ministry of Defence at its firewall by MailMarshal for allegedly violating one of its rules on language.

"Block unacceptable language, script profanity, porn and racism triggered," reads the auto-response email. The reason? The word "arse" appeared in the email in a statement about the National Party's condemnation of an idea it floated at the last election: "Youth radio is a dumb-arse idea".

Brown wants to know where the porn and racism is but agrees he used the word arse not once but twice.

"We do get the odd one blocked but MailMarshal has begun rearing its head recently."

Marshal Software managing director Martin Oxley says the company gets plenty of mail from users complaining about network settings even though Marshal doesn't control the settings its customers chose.

"We get a lot of this kind of thing - administrators not using the filtering software as well as we'd like," says Oxley. MailMarshal can be set to filter email for a number of different reasons but also at a number of different severity settings - for instance it could accept one or two uses of the word "arse" in an email but reject one that used the word five or six times.

"Perhaps administrators could look at that a bit more closely."

Oxley says the increase in the incidence of emails being blocked corresponds with a sudden upsurge in the number of MailMarshal clients.

"We've seen our biggest customer increases in the last three months or so." He puts that upsurge down to worldwide problems with the economy.

"We sell the product on the basis of return on investment and in a downturn that's really important for businesses."

The New Zealand Defence Force has also recently purchased MailMarshal although a spokesman says it has no plans to block incoming mail at this stage.

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