PS. I was much amused by their 'related info' link to the Family Research
Council's anti-net-screening 'net pornography' scare at:
Computer companies to unveil anti-smut efforts
July 16, 1997
Web posted at: 11:14 a.m. EDT (1514 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Computer industry representatives meeting at the White
House on Wednesday were expected to announce they will provide parents
greater access to anti-smut software and work to flag Web sites that are
clean enough for kids.
The effort comes shortly after the Supreme Court struck down a law aimed at
keeping the Internet's seedy side away from children. It also follows White
House urgings for a cyberspace smut-screening system.
"We have tools out there which are 100 percent available," said Jerry
Berman of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a group that works to
protect computer users' civil liberties.
Added Peter Harter of Netscape Communications Corp., "When children are
involved or the First Amendment's involved, those are two very powerful
political dynamics that no one industry can ignore."
Voluntary plan sought
About 30 to 40 computer industry representatives were expected to attend
Wednesday's private meeting, hosted by President Clinton and Vice President
Al Gore. Participants were to include representatives from Netscape,
America Online, Microsoft Corp., Yahoo! Inc., the National Parent Teacher
Association and the American Library Association.
The White House has said it wants a solution "as powerful for the computer
as the v-chip will be for the television that protects children in ways
that are consistent with America's free-speech values." Next year new TV
sets are expected to have a computer chip that would allow parents to block
Instead of seeking new legislation to force the computer industry to shield
children from cyberspace smut, the Clinton administration is pushing a
system of voluntary restraints.
Companies to unveil plans
No final industry-wide voluntary plan was expected to come from the
meeting, but some companies were expected to unveil plans.
For instance, Netscape plans to announce it would back a software standard
allowing people, using a Web browser, either to block or select certain Web
sites based on electronic labels on the sites. The company's next browser
product would use the technology, the company said.
Microsoft's Explorer browser already uses the standard, dubbed PICS, which
can work with more than one labeling or ratings system. Parents using a
browser with the PICS technology could, for example, call up Web sites
designated to be "family friendly" or they could block sites labeled
"violent" or "sex-filled."
The Center for Democracy and Technology plans to debut a new Web site that
would give parents information on how and where to get free smut-screening
software. All the major Internet access providers offer the screening
technology for free or at a nominal cost, the center estimates.
Critics of the filtering system argue that, much like the controversial TV
ratings system, the computer industry cannot rate content to parents'
liking. The screening technology requires practically every Web site in the
world to rate itself.
But others say it's an effective tool for parents to block unwanted content
from entering their homes.
"They can say, 'At least in my household across my computer, there are
certain kinds of content that I'm not going to allow," said Stanford
University's Donald Roberts.
Correspondent Don Knapp and The Associated Press contributed to this report.=
--- Rohit Khare /// MCI Internet Architecture (BOS) /// email@example.com Voice+Pager: (617) 960-5131 VNet: 370-5131 Fax: (617) 960-1009