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Home > Free Security Articles > Resource Articles > Content and Filters September 21, 2017


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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 businesses.
  • 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 trial.
  • American Family Filter Is a server-based Christian Internet filter with no password override for homes, schools and businesses. Blocks material in ten categories.

Reference Articles

Can You Find the Porn?

If you want to go to the White House website, make sure you go to www.whitehouse.gov and not www.whitehouse.com. 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.

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