PALO ALTO, Calif. (Reuter) - Software makers are suddenly
scrambling to profit by selling tools to block obscene and
indecent Web sites on the Internet after the Supreme Court
struck down the Communications Decency Act.
In what appeared to be a well-choreographed response to the
widely awaited ruling, the companies rushed to tout their
technical solutions for preventing children from perusing Web
sites their parents consider to be offensive.
Several of them, such as Spyglass Inc.'s SurfWatch Software,
which testified in the case at the appeals court level before it
reached the nation's highest court, issued statements announcing
the availability of their products.
SurfWatch had just released a major upgrade of its product,
SurfWatch 3.0, which stops users from connecting to 35,000 sites
and blocks them from entering some 20,000 search terms for
finding materials over the Internet.
``Fundamentally it's good for business because what the
Supreme Court has really done is raise the level of buzz,'' said
Mike Sears, who three weeks ago took up the newly created
position of president and general manager of SurfWatch.
A number of other companies -- including Internet firewall
company Raptor Systems Inc. and filtering software maker
Microsystems Software Inc., both of Massachusetts -- issued
statements hailing the decision and promoting their software to
help stop kids from accessing certain Web sites.
``This decision means technology, including filtering
software, is more important than ever in helping parents protect
children from inappropriate material in cyberspace,''
Microsystems CEO Richard Gorgens said in a statement.
Closely held Log-On Data, based in Anaheim, Calif., was even
more blunt in promoting its wares, which it said was the premier
solution for blocking out Internet pornography.
``If the law must go, parents and schools must use X-STOP
because it's the only tool using Direct Address Block
technology,'' Mike Kangior, vice president of government affairs
said in a statement.
``DAB technology blocks porn sites while still allowing
entry to areas offering medical advice or health information,''
the statement said, without giving details.
Competitors include startups like Canada's Net Nanny
Software and Net Shepherd Inc. and products with diverse
monickers as CYBERsitter and Tattle-Tale.
Another company, privately held Sequel Technology Corp. of
Seattle, Wash., provides software which allows companies to
block access to certain sites and monitor their activity.
While some computer industry executives said they expect a new
law that takes a narrower approach than the one knocked down on
Thursday, others expect new legislation will promote greater use
of technology such as filtering software.
``Kids already knew about it (filtering software), but they
were keeping quiet,'' said SurfWatch's Sears, who intends to
promote his software to schools this summer by offering a
two-for-one deal starting next week.
Senator Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat, on Thursday urged
the Justice and Commerce departments ``to quickly come up with
Within hours of the ruling, which was hailed by free-speech
advocates, President Clinton also issued a statement in which he
called for ``the right technology and rating systems ... to help
ensure that our children do not end up in the red light
districts of cyberspace.