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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Mandatory Internet Filtering

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Author Topic: Mandatory Internet Filtering
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
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A bill was passed today that requires all librarties to use mandatory internet filerting software in oder to keep their federal funding.

The ACLU is fighting it, because it is unconstitutional.

Net filters may sound like a good idea to some people, but many of those people don't understand how the software really works -- poorly. Most filtering software relies on words, not content or context, so a net nanny would not allow a viewer to, for example, see a site on breast cancer because it has the word "breast" in it. For that same reason, classic works of literature are also often filtered. On the other hand, it could allow a user right into a hardcore pornography site that is all images and no words whatsoever.

Obviously, this software would not allow library users to view sites like Scarleteen.

It is upsetting, to say the least.

What do you think?

(FYI: if you are interested in these issues, one of the more phenomenal young adult sites on the web, which addresses net censorship, is at http://peacefire.org/)


Posts: 67145 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gumdrop Girl
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y'know, i think the filtering would only be a good idea if the filtering software were any good. right now, we simply do not have the fuzzy logic technology available to us.

i don't want people looking at hardcore porn at my local library where there might be children running around looking for the latest Harry Potter. the kiddies might get an eyeful. but i do want resources like Scarleteen and other health and wellness sites available for reference.

i say hold off on filters until we get filtering technology right.

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Someday, I will have a sexy car...a very...sexy...car!


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KittenGoddess
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I agree, it might be a good idea if the technology would actually protect kids, but also let the important information get through ok. I'm not sure that filtering it will even really do that much good as it is. This is simply because first of all there is the problem with being unable to get the information you might need because of the filters (ie. breast cancer, etc,). And the second problem I see is that sometimes pornographic websites use other words and key words than what's really there. Anyone who has run a search for anything knows that you're bound to come up with at least a few sites that have nothing to do with whatever you were looking for. So I don't know, I think it might be a decent idea if the software was reasonable about what it filtered, but until then, having access to that kind of medical information, etc. might be more important than filtering it all. But I don't know.

~KittenGoddess


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Confused boy
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Well this is what I think. ********** ****** **************************** ********** ******** *********************************** ************** ************ ************** ********** ***** ************************************* ************* **************** ******************************* ******** ******* ******

THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN DEEMED BY THE GOVERNMENT TO BE COUNTER PRODUCTIVE TO GOVERNMENT POLICY.

Jonathan Jones, Ministry of Information


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ThisGuy
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Don'tcha mean Ministry of Truth?

Net filters are stupid. Most are flagrantly easy to bypass. All generate too many false positives, and too many false negatives.

It'd be better for the librarians to just keep an eye on the PCs and what they were used for.

I'd rate the net filter market as up there with net security products and second-hand cars.

------------------
Ask not why dogs sniff each others butts...
Ask instead why you do not!


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Heather
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And yanno. ThisGuy, one of the head developers for two of the top filtering programs said basically what you did yesterday -- that it wasn't designed to work well in this capacity, and that it was only designed to be used for small children.

Unfortunately, it was passed regardless. Let's hope the ACLU can get it appealed.


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Heather
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Adding another dimension to the subject, besides limiting everyone's right to read what they would like to, how ELSE is filetring destructive?

Take a look at a good article pinpointing what the filtering companies gain - big ol' bucks from marketing frims from the info they give them on users whose every activity they track:
http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/21/technology/21FILT.html


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ThisGuy
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In my opinion its about the same level as the 'net monitoring system being implemented in the UK. Or most anti-drug or anti-crime legislation.

Its poorly thought out, ill-advised, and ineffective. Its not going to stop people who are trying to get such material, but it will limit a lot of other things.

All the US government is doing is trying to look like they're achieving something in the "war against porn" - saving the souls of our poor children.

The irony is that the sickening amount of violence on TV is more of a threat than the porn... ;p

------------------
Ask not why dogs sniff each others butts...
Ask instead why you do not!


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Gumdrop Girl
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i'd rather rely on librarians walking by every now and then skimming to make sure there's not a full-color photo of a naked and spread-eagled person on the screens. then rely on their discretion to kick abusers out.

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Someday, I will have a sexy car...a very...sexy...car!


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Sexperk
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I like confused boy's approach, personally. )

I object to all forms of internet filtering. I think the net is the greatest thing since sliced bread--it is a wonderful opportunity for the wishes of the common person to be translated to the world community. That free aspect of this wonderful tool is chopped off at the knees by legislation such as this. You don't think they'll stop at this measly attempt at filtering, do you? It won't end until they have all of us by the balls.

Porn wouldn't be on the net if it wasn't such a major part of so many lives. I think we as a society almost always do more harm than good with any regulation legislation that is passed. As has been said, it is almost always used in the end to defraud the innocent and abet the abusers.

Me, I'm laissez faire all the way, and there's no two ways about it. If filtering has to be done, let it be done locally, not by the government and certainly not by corporations out to make a buck.

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Honesty is telling others the truth. Integrity is telling yourself the truth.


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Murasaki
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Ugh, censorship... *winces*

I agree with much that has been posted here... filtering software right now just doesn't work WELL enough that it should be mandatory. And besides, if people are REALLY determined to look at pictures of naked people, they'll find ways around it. I know some of these people personally. Now, they're not horrible folks or anything, they're just poor saps that have to use public computers and are determined to see what they wanna... I really like the idea to have librarians activly walking around to see what people are DOING. A real, live person is much more effective than the crummy software we have now.

...and also, though I'm not sure people will agree, is it really so horrible if someone sees a picture of a boob by accident? Most people are likely going to see one SOME day, and I don't think a kid would be too horribly warped by it... so long as someone was there afterwards to give some explanation as to what they'd seen....


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alaska
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My University has filtering software on the public computers in the halls (they are simply net puters, not lab ones) and you get waaayyyy to many false positves with the kind of software they have implemented. And you also get way to many false negatives as well.
In all, it's shabs. I agree that a "real" person having an eye on the puters in a library is a lot better at keeping people from accessing material that is unsuitable for them because they are underage.

------------------
Just a regular lunatic.
Go inside Alaska's head...


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Milke
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Actually, just turning off the images on their web browsers would be a lot more effective. It means some sites would suffer in their ability to give information, but most well designed information sites can exist in text-form. I used to choose to view the 'net this way at school just so it would load faster.
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BJadeT
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I don't know if this does apply to what your talking about, but net censorship can be good in that it can prevent people looking at violent, terrorist and racist sites of which there are many. People can go on these without meaning to, and be genuinely distressed by them, or they can use them intentionally to spread their (not very nice) messages. If anything can wipe out the use of the internet to fuel hatred and violence then it's a good thing in my opinion.
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Heather
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Trouble is, BJade, most net filters ONLY screen for sexual content -- not for bigotry, violence or hateful content.

And the issue with this mandate didn't touch hate. It has to do with sexuality. So, someone using a net nanny couldn't do reserach on breast cancer, but they could open up a neo-nazi site with no problem.

Our goverrnment isn't concerned with violence and bigotry for the most part. Heck, that's part of the grease that makes the big machine work.

(Yes, I am bitter.)

------------------
Heather Corinna
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen

"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein


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