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Fwd: FC: Filters criticized, from CNET, by Rose Aguilar

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>Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 09:28:16 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
>To: fight-censorship-announce@vorlon.mit.edu
>Subject: FC: Filters criticized, from CNET, by Rose Aguilar
>Message-Id: <Pine.GSO.3.95.961019091851.5705B-100000@well.com>

My complete thought that didn't quite make it in the attached article was
that filtering software that's part of a government-initiated privatized
censorship scheme is worse -- since it won't be struck down by a court on
First Amendment grounds. (That is, unless government involvement is very

 "Filtering software was developed by the industry in a response to
 government threats, and often the end result is even worse than a true
 government act like the CDA because you can't fight it" **IN COURT.**

The CyberWire Dispatch that broke the overbroad-filtering software story
originally is at:


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 17:40:57 -0700
From: "baby-X @ cyberPOLIS" <baby-x@cyberpolis.org>
To: Fight Censorship <fight-censorship@vorlon.mit.edu>
Subject: Site filters criticized, By Rose Aguilar


>   Marketplace Site filters criticized
>   By Rose Aguilar
>   October 18, 1996, 1:30 p.m. PT
>   On the eve of SafeSurf's announcement Monday that it plans to market a
>   server-based filtering technology to ISPs and corporations with
>   intranets, an online activist reveals that some sites blocked by
>   software programs include gay and lesbian forums and feminist topics.
>   SafeSurf, along with other filtering software products like
>   CyberPatrol, NetNanny, and CyberSitter, keeps its long list of
>   censored sites confidential.
>   Somehow, Declan McCullagh got his hands on a list of censored sites
>   and newsgroups, and much to his surprise, he found that some filters
>   ban access to sites reserved for discussion of gay and lesbian issues
>   and other topics such as feminism.
>   Filtering technology was developed to demonstrate that there is no
>   need for the federal Communications Decency Act or other censorship
>   laws, but some say that such software is just as restrictive.
>   "Filtering software is a classic case of a privatized censorship
>   scheme," McCullagh said today. "Filtering software was developed by
>   the industry in a response to government threats, and often the end
>   result is even worse than a true government act like the CDA because
>   you can't fight it."
>   Ray Soular, chairman of SafeSurf, obviously disagrees and says that
>   censorship is mandatory and that filtering is a choice. "We give
>   parents the right to choose whether they want to use our technology,"
>   he said. "We're not forcing them like the government wants to."
>   SafeSurf wasn't prominent in McCullagh's article, but Soular admits
>   that there is "potential for blocking sites that shouldn't be."
>   SafeSurf is working on developing a feature that will allow users to
>   customize their options.
>   For now, users simply have the choice of filtering or not. The new
>   technology expected to be announced next week, called the SafeSurf
>   Internet Filtering Solution, filters content at the server level, as
>   opposed to filtering through individual computers, for individuals and
>   employers who are concerned about what their children or their
>   employees get to see online. "People are fed up with downloading
>   software, and this system solves that problem," Soular said.
>   A consumer simply signs up with an ISP and requests the "family-safe
>   account," which can be configured automatically into the system.
>   Two databases are complete so far: The "Cyberplayground" is intended
>   for younger children and censors all content deemed inappropriate by
>   SafeSurf, and the "De-black" list censors pornographic sites. SafeSurf
>   eventually plans to offer 20 databases customized for different ages,
>   according to Soular.
>   Soular said the ISPs can choose to either charge each household $1 to
>   $3 per month for the service or offer it for free as an incentive.
>   Pricing depends on the amount of subscribers or employees that will
>   use the system. A company or ISP with several thousand employees or
>   subscribers can expect to pay $9,000 with a $2,000 monthly upgrade
>   fee. Small companies and ISPs will be charged a $900 setup fee, with a
>   $200 monthly upgrade fee.
>   So far, CrossLink, a large ISP based in Washington, D.C., will offer
>   the technology to its subscribers for $3 per month. SafeSurf also is
>   talking to five more major ISPs, one of which is in Europe, according
>   to Soular.
>   Companies in the Washington area have expressed interest in CrossLink,
>   but wish to keep the selected sites private, according to a CrossLink
>   spokesman. "Let's just put it this way," he said. "A lot of companies
>   and organizations here are politically correct, and they don't want
>   that kind of information to get in the wrong hands."
>   Employers can give SafeSurf a list to block with topics including
>   gambling, sex, and sports. Employers legally have the right to block
>   sites from employees, but McCullagh says censorship in the workplace
>   is a bad idea. "I don't think it's productive in the long run because
>   employees learn a lot by surfing, even if they do it during their
>   lunch break."

           c     y     b     e     r     P     O     L     I     S
               C o m m u n i c a t e   T h i s   C u l t u r e

            ( Christopher D. Frankonis -- baby-x@cyberpolis.org )

fight-censorship is at http://www.eff.org/~declan/fight-censorship/

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