Dangerous Web Content and Internet Filters
Since the Internet became a common gathering place for individuals and
businesses there's been conflict about its content. Even before those
days, when it was known as the ARPANET and subsequently NSFnet,
businesses were restricted from conducting commercial enterprises on
the 'net. It wasn't until President Bush signed legislation
on November 23, 1992 that it became legal to conduct business on the
Internet (& Mainstream was there!).
Parental & Boss Controls
Parents started becoming concerned about content, and sexual
predators. Businesses also became concerned about their employees
wasting time online -- or worse. As a result, numerous companies have
emerged which offer filters which provide restriction of Internet
content based upon rule sets built into the programs, and modified by
the software's owners. The two most common types of filters are based
upon URL (or the web address) and the content of the pages viewed.
The US Supreme Court Will Hear a Filter Case
Well, we all knew that the the government would have to get invovled,
their involvement always pulls the courts along behind it.
The American Library
Association is arguing against a law signed by President Clinton
in 2000. This
law, known as the Children's Internet Protection Act (or CIPA),
requires that libraries and public schools must use filtering software
to block Internet access to "material deemed to be harmful to minors"
-- if they want any federal money for technology improvements.
Who determines what's harmful? How can harmful content be effectively
blocked? Both Peacefire and Anti-Proxy are available to help
people get around filters and port blocking. A smart kid can figure
out how to get where they want on the Internet.
As the government raises the bar, the other side raises it higher, and
the cycle repeats. Will this perpetually more difficult
government-sponsored high-jump render the Internet useless for many,
will it result in absolute freedom, or will we allow parents,
business, and ultimately the individual decide what's best themselves?
For More Information
Prominent Players in Content Filtering
Some of the more prominent players in the field today (in
order of popularity) are:
- Net Nanny -- Provides
content filtering, blocking, and monitoring software for children and
organizations. Free block list updates.
- surfControl -- A suite
of products to filter, monitor, block, and report Internet access for
- Cybersitter -- A
filtering program for web, news, mail, and ICQ which supports PICS and
can keep history of all Internet activity. Free block list
updates. 30-day free trial.
- Cyber Patrol -- Provides
Internet filtering, blocking and monitoring software for Windows and
Macintosh. Blocking list updates require subscription. 7-day free
- American Family Filter Is
a server-based Christian Internet filter with no password override for
homes, schools and businesses. Blocks material in ten categories.
Can You Find the Porn?
If you want to go to the White House website, make sure you go to
Can you guess which is the on-line pornographic site? The two
are miles apart in many respects, but the domain name only differs
slightly. The content filters listed above do know the difference.