The UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are officially removing the technical terms ‘Whitelist’ and ‘Blacklist’ from their organisation in an effort to be more inclusive.
The terms ‘Whitelist’ and ‘Blacklist’, which refer to lists of permitted and not-permitted things in the cybersecurity world, will be replaced with the more literal and accurate ‘Allow List’ and ‘Deny List’.
Prolific spam email domains for example are often ‘Blacklisted’ by system administrators – a negative association the NCSC feels should not, even inadvertently, imply a connection to skin colour.
The organisation, a more public extension of GCHQ, acknowledged in a statement on their website that whilst “…it’s not the biggest issue in the world…”, the organisation is acting positively in response to requests from the public, is making an effort to be more inclusive, and that using such terms might otherwise have impaired the recruitment of valued “future colleagues.”
‘Blacklisting’ also has an unfortunate connotation with an illegal practice of barring whistle-blowing employees and trade union members from working across certain sectors, which has a history within the construction industry among others.
Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge and others have made similar terminology decisions – deciding that pejorative references to colour should not be used in cybersecurity terminology.
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