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Fwd: FC: Filters criticized, from CNET, by Rose Aguilar
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- Subject: Fwd: FC: Filters criticized, from CNET, by Rose Aguilar
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- Date: Sat, 19 Oct 96 20:40:22 +0200
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>Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 09:28:16 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Declan McCullagh <email@example.com>
>Subject: FC: Filters criticized, from CNET, by Rose Aguilar
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:
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Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 17:40:57 -0700
From: "baby-X @ cyberPOLIS" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Fight Censorship <email@example.com>
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 -- firstname.lastname@example.org )
fight-censorship is at http://www.eff.org/~declan/fight-censorship/
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