By Globe Staff, 09/12/96
Message from boston.com users to the government: Keep your mitts off the Web.
When it comes to controlling children's exposure to pornographic material,
contributors to this week's column almost unanimously said the filtering
should be done by a parent, not a politician.
What we asked
We asked users to imagine finding their 10-year-old surfing through racy
photos on a site like Penthouse.com. How would they respond? Some respondents
felt that a stern talking-to was in order.
``My response would first be to get him away from the computer; kids that age
have nothing much in the way of an attention span,'' posted Adam Selene.
``I'd then discuss with him the facts of life as they bear on magazines which
are basically male fantasy/wish-fulfillment.''
Selene continued: ``One does not raise a human being by setting limits as to
what he may or may not be allowed to learn.''
Another user noted that kids always seem to be excited by the forbidden, and
introduced the idea of implementing software that restricts the kind of
material children can view on a home computer. Noseeum writes: ``I'd set the
censorware to an appropriate level, as well as discuss the matter with her
Stephen Balkam, a boston.
com user and the executive director of the Recreational Software Advisory
Council in Cambridge, recommends using the software-filtering capabilities
built into the Internet Exporer 3.0 browser.
``I would ensure that I had set the levels on my browser for the appropriate
levels of nudity, sex, language and violence that I would want my child to
view,'' he writes. ``As a professional working in the field of Internet
ratings and parental controls, I would urge all parents to become familiar
with simple means of blocking objectionable material.''
Balkam also advises Web site operators to have their sites rated by the
Recreational Software Advisory Council to assist with parental control of what
> Two researchers at MIT's World Wide Web Consortium posted
> a message about letting various organizations make their
> own judgments about Web sites.
> ``The Consortium's Platform for Internet Content Selection
> is very powerful because it does not mandate a specific
> rating scheme, but allows many cultural, religious and
> educational groups to present their own value judgments,''
> researchers Sally Khudairi and Rohit Khare posted.
> For example, a church group or a school would have access
> to the same tools to rate Web sites, not only to warn of
> unsuitable material but also to direct users to worthy
> Web sites. PICS capability is already built into Internet
> Explorer 3.0 and will soon be packaged with Netscape,
> said Khudairi and Khare.
Only one user this week advocated restrictions on the kind of material
permitted on the Internet. Tony Le says posting adult material is a waste of
the Internet's potential.
``The Internet is a vast system of knowledge,'' he writes, ``and to me porno
and its companions are not considered knowledge.''
For links to related sites and information about an ACLU forum on Internet
censorship being held tonight in Newton, go to: www.boston.com, keyword:
Next week's topic
Does using the 'Net make people less hip or more hip? Or is the Internet so
integrated with our culture that it doesn't even influence someone's hipness?
React at www.boston.com, keyword: comment, or send e-mail to comment ...
This story ran on page c4 of the Boston Globe on 09/12/96.