From: email@example.com (Joseph M. Reagle Jr.)
Subject: Boston Settles Web Porn Dispute With Software Decision 02/18/97
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.A., 1997 FEB 18 (NB) -- REPEAT/By Jacqueline
Emigh. In response to strong outcry this week over access from libraries
to pornography on the Internet, the City of Boston has decided to use
Microsystems Software's CyberPatrol software in public libraries as
well as school libraries, Newsbytes has learned.
The brouhaha all began at the Boston Public Library's main branch in
Copley Square, when a group of boys decided to "gross out their
girlfriends" by accessing porno sites on the World Wide Web, explained
Microsystems Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dick Borgens, in an
interview today with Newsbytes.
"With all the giggles and so on, the kids attracted the attention of
some parents sitting nearby," according to Borgens.
The shocked parents subsequently complained to city government about
library access to nude photos online, obtaining strong backing from
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
On the other side of the controversy in Boston, however, was the
American Library Association (ALA), a major opponent of the
Communications Decency Act (CDA).
After meeting this week with Framingham, Massachusetts-based
Microsystems Software, the City of Boston has settled the controversy by
extending Microsystems' CyberPatrol software beyond already decided
upon use in school libraries to public libraries as well, Microsystems
President Nigel Spicer told Newsbytes this afternoon.
The city is also considering use of Microsystems' product in Boston's
municipal government offices, Spicer added.
The city had already bought 250 copies of the software, earmarking
all of the copies for use in libraries within the Boston Public Schools,
according to the Microsystems officials.
At press time for Newsbytes' Friday PM edition, the city had not yet
decided whether to buy additional copies of CyberPatrol for use in the
public libraries, or to instead use some of the previously purchased
software for this purpose, Spicer said.
Also still up in the air after a meeting this morning were questions
concerning numbers of PC and Macintosh configurations, and whether
CyberPatrol will also be used in city office buildings, added the
Spicer also told Newsbytes that, as of this morning, city officials were
"referencing both Microsoft (Internet) Explorer and Netscape Navigator"
for use in Web access.
CyberPatrol, a software product recently nominated for a Computerworld
Smithsonian Award, features customizable filters aimed at letting moms
and dads exercise "parental preference" over kids' access to the
Borgens told Newsbytes that the software comes with default blocks
against about 20,000 Web sites, established with the okay of an
oversight committee encompassing a school psychologist; clergy; a child
psychologist; and representatives from groups ranging from the Parent-
Teachers Association (PTA) and the NAACP, to the National Rifle
These 20,000 off limit sites are organized into 12 categories, such as
gambling and "militant extremist." Parents can opt to unblock individual
sites, or entire categories of sites, however. Alternatively, parents
can add blocks for specified sites to the default blocks.
Spicer noted that CyberPatrol also supports both the SafeSurf and RSAC
implementations of the MIT-developed PICS system for Web site self-
But, since "it is the worst sites that do not regulate themselves,"
Microsystems augments the PICS implementations with recommendations
from its own oversight committee.
Borgens said that CyberPatrol is used in public school systems in
Massachusetts and many other states, as well as by Web search engines
like Microsoft's Excite and major Internet service providers (ISPs). The
software is available is English, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese,
with versions now under development for Korean and Italian.
For business and government offices, Microsystems produces CyberPatrol
Corporate, an edition aimed at blocking access from the work place to
Web content such as sports, recreation, and pornography.
When it comes to libraries, practices vary widely on a regional basis,
according to the Microsystems CEO.
"Libraries in the Bible Belt are almost all installed with either
CyberPatrol or some other (blocking) software. But in cities like New
York and Los Angeles, the jury is still out," Newsbytes was told.
Borgens noted that he and his wife arrived at the idea behind
CyberPatrol out of concerns about content their own kids were
encountering on the Web. "Two-and-a-half years ago, we were among
relatively few families with home access to the Internet," the company
Prior to founding Microsystems, Borgens launched Alloy Computer Products
in the early 1980s. At one time, Alloy was the third largest network
supplier, behind 3Com and Novell, Newsbytes was told.
In the Computerworld Smithsonian awards program, CyberPatrol has been
nominated by Compuserve President and CEO Bob Massey in the Media, Arts
& Entertainment category. Last year, Pixar's "Toy Story" won the
More information about Microsystems is available on the Web at