Program disables Web filters

from the you-want-laws----this-will-give-us-laws dept

This is one of the most idiotic software releases I have seen in a long time. The Peacefire group claims that their software disables the top seven leading Web filtering programs, such as Net Nanny. They say it is in response to a law that Congress passed requiring filtering programs on computers in schools and libraries. Come on folks! This is messed up. I’m all for free speech and porn on the Web, but what the hell is the point of specifically disabling programs designed to keep kids away from the stuff? Teachers can’t be there every second and they shouldn’t have to be. This will do nothing except push Congress to pass even more laws.

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Comments on “Program disables Web filters”

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Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

Then again, it seems that a lot of these net blocking companies ignore the fact that they suck. This might actually force them to do something about the quality of their software (though, more likely it’ll just make the companies spend resources working on ways to block the blockers). I’m not convinced one way or the other if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

mhh5 says:

Re: No Subject Given

I think this was bound to happen. I mean porn sites don’t want to get “filtered” and it was only a matter of time before they figured out how to circumvent the blockage. Now the ball is back in the filtering software court. Censorship is stupid anyway. Ideas aren’t good or bad, it’s how you treat them or act on them….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

we are talking about filtering software, software used by parents to protect their kids at least against some of the stuff on the net that is for sure not suitable for a ten year old. Doing this I think is a very reasonable step by responsible parents and has nothing to do with cencorship. A software that aims to disable the filters makes “Internet safe” PCs for kids less safe. Would you like your kids or younger sisters or whatever surfing without filters at the age of 10?

mhh5 says:

Re: Re: Re: Tongue firmly in cheek - (hope that gets past the

You ask: Would you like your kids or younger sisters or whatever surfing without filters at the age of 10?
I ask: At what age do you start trusting your kids or younger sisters or whatever to surf without filters?

If children are surfing for porn, you need to ask yourself: why? Are 10-yr olds horny little bastards looking to score? Probably not. They’re curious. They want to know what’s the big deal with all the stuff “adults” don’t want them to see. Parents need to parent! They don’t need software to guard their kids. There’s a saying that “parents can’t watch what their children are doing all the time”… They don’t need to! Parents need to raise their children and educate them about dangers and porn and all the stuff that filtering software filters for. Filtering software doesn’t replace parenting….

I liken filtering software in america to the drinking age in the US. We have a no-alcohol-until-21 law. Other countries don’t. Do other countries have rampant alcoholism? No. They just teach their kids from a very young age that drinking isn’t evil, but it needs moderation. I think the effect of the drinking age in the US is that as soon as kids hit 21, they go nuts with their new “freedom” and are unfortunately not always armed with the wisdom of moderation that should have been inured into them until they were 21. The result is that the US is one of the few countries to report college-age binge-drinking. Perhaps we need to raise the drinking age even higher….

And perhaps we should put filtering software on everyone’s computer. Because it’s not really censorship. Young adults just aren’t responsible enough. Does America want fathers and mothers surfing without filters at the age of 21? If we don’t make the internet safe for young families, who will it be safe for? And shouldn’t we protect our elderly while we’re at it? Don’t “we” know what’s good for them? Don’t “we” have a responsibility to protect our fellow citizens from the evils of the world? It’s for our national security….

Tongue firmly in cheek. Hope that gets past the censors…..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Tongue firmly in cheek - (hope that gets past

Lets clear one thing: Parents using filtering software for their kids have NOTHING to do with cencorship in the political sense. As a parent you do decide what your kids are going to experience at what age – that is true in the offline world and that should be true in the online world. Parental filtering software is nothing else than a tool for parents that helps them control to what they believe their kids should have access and what not. If you believe it’s ok if 10-yr olds have access to porns or violent content – fine, that’s your opinion, but let other parents who do not believe so decide whether their kids have access to this or not.

You ask:
> At what age do you start trusting your kids or younger sisters or whatever to surf without filters?

And then you say:
> They’re curious.

Kids are natuarally curious. Trust should not mean that kids shouldn’t be curious anymore. They will try to see and explore whatever is available to them. And that’s a good thing, but what they experience should reflect their age. And that’s why it is fully legitimate of parents to use filtering software.

Let me finish by saying that we know all the crap and dirt out there somewhere on the web. With time and effort, there propably is no content whatsoever that you won’t get over the net; content – I am sure even you don’t wish any kid to see. But we have to live with it, that’s the price we pay for the (fragile) freedom of information on the net. I too believe that this freedom on the net is more and more in danger – not only in countries like China but also in the US or EU. But saying that the freedom of speech is endangered by parental filerting software is not only a great misunderstanding, it in fact turns the truth upside down: Client site filerting software allows this freedom on the net to continue, because it gives the free, personal choice what of the net’s information flow should go to the client – rather than cencoring the source itself.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Tongue firmly in cheek - (hope that gets past

I think I side with mhh5 on this one. While it’s anybody’s right to install filtering software if they want to, I think it probably does more harm than good.

I think, in general, we are far too forgetful about what it’s like to be a kid. I think that hiding stuff from kids causes more problems than teaching kids to think for themselves, understand what they see, and understand consequences of actions. I’m not saying to shove pornography in front of kids, but to admit that at some point they will see it, and to better prepare them to realize what it is, and how to deal with it. Teaching kids to think critically is important. Pretending this stuff doesn’t exist is dangerous, because when they do come across this stuff, they’re less able to deal with what it is and what it means.

I’m sure that I saw pornography at an age before my parents would have liked me to. When you’re a kid, it just happens. I don’t think it did any serious damage to me. I’m not sure why so many adults seem to assume that a child’s curious nature is definitely going to cause some sort of permanent damage. My parents taught me to think critically, and to realize that the world wasn’t a perfect place, and I think that prepared me very well to deal with things. I also have tremendous trust in my parents to this day because they never tried to hide things or lie to me about the world. From a very early age (for the most part), I think my parents treated me like an adult who could be trusted to make his own decisions, and that built up my own confidence and belief that I could deal with anything and achieve whatever I wanted. I think it’s a valuable lesson that many parents don’t offer their children.

However, all that being said, I’m sure that there are parents who disagree and want to use filtering software and pretend that there is no pornography and that children should have this stuff sprung on them at a later age. That’s their choice (which is the point you’re making in the above post). Mhh5 is arguing that in general, this is bad parenting technique – he is not saying that parents shouldn’t be allowed to offer the software, just that they’re making a mistake in doing so.

Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Tongue firmly in cheek - (hope that gets past

I think that parental censorship leads to people that are aren’t ready to deal with the real world. I’m glad that as a child I asked questions and got straight forward answers (even if it was painful sometimes).

I think that parents should be free to use this censorship software but realise that because of it their children may suffer latter in life because of it (i.e. those spam emails offering to make you a millionaire, who do you think actually replies to those?) due to a lack of exposure to unpleasant but real life issues.

mhh5 says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Tongue firmly in cheek - (hope that gets past

Well, I’ll just say that people who know me, know that I don’t like to censor anything – myself especially. (As a result, things I say are often not “filtered” either.) Obviously, I agree with Mike and the ryans here. And I do not mean to belittle the parenting techniques of anyone since I myself have never fathered a child. I’m just saying that censorship is almost never a good thing. And I don’t think there is much of a difference between “political” and “parental” censorship — the only difference is scale.

As for the fragile freedom of the internet, I think censorship blockers and blockers of the blockers, and so on, do not necessitate more laws. And I hope the courts/legislature agree. Ideas are meant to be expressed. I absolutely believe that ideas are not good or bad. It’s what people do with them….

And as for crediting parents for bringing up children to deal with the real world, I’m not sure how much is nurture or nature there. But obviously Mike’s parents did a good job since he agrees with me… 🙂 Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Masnick!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why do the people with the tightest asses get to m

>As a parent you do decide what your kids are going
> to experience at what age – that is true in the offline world and that should be true in the
>online world.
—Wrong! Kids do ALL KINDS OF THINGS outside the control of their parents and adults. Hell, I wouldn’t have learned to read for fun if I hadn’t broken the rules. That’s what real life is about. Learning on your own. Filtering software is just another way for people with mental problems regarding sex and other content to not have to talk about it to their kids. The other problem is that these same people think they’re everyone else’s parents, and they would LOVE to censor the source material if they could get away with it. They want to censor everything they can, and will do whatever they can until we start ignoring them and/or telling them to shut the hell up and go away.

Andy (user link) says:

No Subject Given

Dan wrote:

They say it is in response to a law that Congress passed requiring filtering programs on computers in schools and libraries. Come on folks! This is
messed up. I’m all for free speech and porn on the Web, but what the hell is the point of specifically disabling programs designed to keep kids away from the stuff?

Because that’s not what it does. Filtering software has been consistantly shown to do a very bad job of blocking what it claims it blocks. They will never be able to block the majority of, for instance, porn sites, and at they same time the block a lot of non-porn sites because they have a computer categorizing the pages.
To make matters worse many of them have been shown to block any criticism of themselves. Most block any discussion of the pros or cons of filtering software because such discussions almost always inlcude words like “porn”.
If filtering software actually worked correctly it would be a lot less objectionable (but even then it wouldn’t be acceptable in libraries).

Ryan says:


Great debate on this one. I think I’ll also have to sign on with Mike and mhh5 on this one. I think that parents aren’t able (because of working more)/don’t want to spend the time with their kids that they should. Nowadays, parents can use the internet to babysit their kids while they do ‘more important things’. However, parents are worried about the sexual/violent content on the internet. Does this sound familiar? When parents 10 years ago started working more/both working, they used their TV’s to babysit their kids after a long day at work. Then they started worrying about the sexual/violent content on the television. The result? The V-chip, which is still around, despite the extreme lack of press about it anymore. The V-chip, however, is more ‘successful’ for a couple reasons:

1. The television industry is regulated (in varying degrees; at least, compared to the internet), leading to
2. All programs are voluntarily rated now.

However, in this case, the V-chip was used to block shows when parents weren’t around/didn’t want to put in the effort to monitor their childrens’ viewing habits. My point in all this is that spending time with your children is the best thing you can do for them. As Mike said, teach them to think critically, explain to them why you believe something is wrong (for them). Yes, kids will still be interested in sex even after all this – it’s a part of puberty – and they will find access to it, even past blockers (they don’t block geocities sites, for example). But if you can at least teach them to differentiate between right and wrong, maybe they’ll proceed in a responsible fashion. And practice what you preach – if you say porn is bad, and your kid catches you surfing for porn, you’ve not only nixed what you’ve said, you’ve taught another bad lesson.

Coming at this from the other side, an argument that can be made is that (young) children (pick an arbitrary age) simply do not have the experience to handle what is thrown at them. However, this argument can be talking in a loop – how will they get experience if it is denied to them? I do believe (and hope others do too) that there is a period in a child’s life where they simply must trust the judgement of their parents – that’s what being a kid is all about. However, at some point, a parent must allow a child to start experiencing the world – that’s how one becomes an adult. I think if I had kids today I would be more apprehensive of chat rooms – I believe there is more danger there than kids looking at dirty pictures or playing violent games.
Blah blah blah. I’d like to end with a quote from The Simpsons, because I believe they mirror real life a little too much: “Oh, yeah, kids are great, Apu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate, and what with the Internet these day, they practically raise themselves!” Wow, that’s a lot of typing.

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