January 24, 2006 4:00 AM PST

Do Web filters protect your child?

Millions of parents around the country rely on Web filtering software to shield their children from the nasty side of the Internet--porn, predators and other unseemly phenomena.

But according to the U.S. Justice Department, Web filters are not enough to protect minors. The agency voiced its concern about the technology last week as it geared up to defend an antiporn law that's under attack from civil liberties advocates.

The case, which deals with the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, grabbed attention Thursday after the department subpoenaed Internet search companies, including Google and Yahoo, for millions of search records.

Prosecutors said they need the records to understand the behavior of Web users and how frequently they encounter pornography. Internet addresses obtained from the search engines could be tested against filtering programs to evaluate their effectiveness, the agency said in a court filing.

Casting doubt on the usefulness of Web filters should put American families on edge. More than half of U.S. families with online teens use filtering programs, with more than 12 million copies of such software in use, according to a study conducted last year by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The report indicated that use of filters in U.S. homes grew 65 percent from four years earlier, as children logged on to the Web in ever greater numbers and the online porn industry continued to flourish.

So just how well do such tools really work? Experts say the technology is not flawless but that it's become more sophisticated in recent years. For instance, developers of filters have learned to thwart some of the more common devices designed to disable them and have added more customization features that give parents greater control over the type of material that can be blocked.

"They're not perfect, and it's hard to see how they ever really would be," said Amanda Lenhardt, a researcher at the Pew Internet and American Life Project. "But they are relatively effective. They do a reasonably good job."

The Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, agrees. The company re-evaluated 11 products in June, concluding that filtering software has improved since a previous report in 2001 but that the products are "still fallible."

"Filters keep most, but not all, porn out," the group writes in an online overview of the report.

The products that scored highest in the Consumers Union's evaluation were Safe Eyes from SafeBrowse.com, Microsoft's Parental Controls, CyberPatrol from SurfControl, Symantec's Norton Internet Security and McAfee's Privacy Service. Most took just minutes to set up, the group said.

"We've come a long way from the days when searching on 'Little Bo Peep' would yield adult sites for the first 20 listings," said Ray Everett Church, a privacy consultant at PrivacyClue, a research firm.

Web filtering software blocks access to objectionable material through a variety of methods, including blacklists, keyword lists, content rating systems and white lists. Blacklists consist of a predetermined set of Web addresses and will not let users visit specific Web pages.

A keyword list actually scans Web sites for undesirable text and, in some cases, images. If it finds a match, the browser refuses to render the site or pops up a warning. White lists, considered the most restrictive method, block access to all sites except those selected by the filter company. Some filters also work in conjunction with Web site ratings, a voluntary system that relies on Web developers providing an honest description of their content.

Some Internet service providers, including AOL, also try to do their part. Twenty-five percent of AOL's 20 million members sign on under parentally controlled screen names.

"It is a robust and multileveled set of controls to help ensure kids don't have access to inappropriate content and do have access to useful and appropriate content," said AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein.

As advanced as some of these programs have become, Internet

See more CNET content tagged:
filter, porn, McAfee Inc., agency, U.S.

122 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
Take responsibility for your children
Some filters are better than others, but the best solution for protecting children online is parental supervision.

Don't let your child have a computer in their room, put it in a public area in your home. Teach them how to avoid the dark/dangerous areas of the net, and only allow them to use the computer when a parent or guardian is at home.

If you don't know how to do the above - Learn.

The government is good at some things. Controlling content on the Internet, a global entity mostly outside the reach of U.S. laws, is not one of them.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I Could Not Agree More
Hear hear! I also find it so hypocritical that the Republicans, the supposed party of eliminating government interference and promoting individual responsibility, would so enthusiastically suppport such a policy. But, then again, considering how they get most of their campaign money from people who think the world is going to come to an end if a kid sees a pair of hooters, I guess I'm not surprised.
Posted by kevinspammons (4 comments )
Link Flag
Take responsibility for your children
Some filters are better than others, but the best solution for protecting children online is parental supervision.

Don't let your child have a computer in their room, put it in a public area in your home. Teach them how to avoid the dark/dangerous areas of the net, and only allow them to use the computer when a parent or guardian is at home.

If you don't know how to do the above - Learn.

The government is good at some things. Controlling content on the Internet, a global entity mostly outside the reach of U.S. laws, is not one of them.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I Could Not Agree More
Hear hear! I also find it so hypocritical that the Republicans, the supposed party of eliminating government interference and promoting individual responsibility, would so enthusiastically suppport such a policy. But, then again, considering how they get most of their campaign money from people who think the world is going to come to an end if a kid sees a pair of hooters, I guess I'm not surprised.
Posted by kevinspammons (4 comments )
Link Flag
Quite frankly,
Who cares? Like the guy said, who's ever been permanently harmed by accidently coming across porn when they were young?
Posted by Mutex (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Children
Young children can be harmed by adult content. You don't have to agree, you just have to respect the opinion of parents, who want to decide how and when to introduce the subject to their developing children. In *most* cases, adult media does NOT accurately reflect reality... making this a child's first exposure to the "adult" world can create a warped sense of reality.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Quite frankly,
Who cares? Like the guy said, who's ever been permanently harmed by accidently coming across porn when they were young?
Posted by Mutex (40 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Children
Young children can be harmed by adult content. You don't have to agree, you just have to respect the opinion of parents, who want to decide how and when to introduce the subject to their developing children. In *most* cases, adult media does NOT accurately reflect reality... making this a child's first exposure to the "adult" world can create a warped sense of reality.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
The Government is smoke screening
The government's intent here is not just limiting the access of pornography to kids. If that was their intent they would be taking a totally different approach on this subject. The current administration is trying to launch an outright attack on pornography in general.

If the government really wanted to make pornography easy to filter out so that you could simply protect you kids, they would not have opposed the .xxx high level domain. In fact, they would have embraced it, and put a caveat in there that all pornography MUST be in the .xxx domain.

The government refusing to accept and embrace the .xxx domain shows that they have no interest in actually working to rectify the problem, and allow pornography on the internet, and make an easy way to filter it out for kids. This tatic shows that they have one intent, and one intent only, to remove pornography from the internet. (Like that is possible)
Posted by bemenaker (438 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One question,
Why?

Also, surely children accessing images of violence is going to harm them a lot more.
Posted by Mutex (40 comments )
Link Flag
Foolish Theory
<<The current administration is trying to launch an outright attack on pornography in general. >>

Another foolish left-wing conspiracy theory. Your xxx domain example is just horrible. The government knows that publishing content under .com, .net, .org, etc, is a right, and they did not interfere with the industry's ability to publish content under any domain they choose. You see, they were PROTECTING the rights of the adult entertainment industry. You really have it backwards.

And now, they are doing a STUDY to determine which methods best accomplish the goal of upholding the adult-content distribution problem, and they were careful to ask for data that would not violate any person's rights.

The governmetn is working to address everybody's concerns in this matter while protecting our freedoms. Your loony conspiracy theory is... just that. Loony.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
What about respecting the feelings of religous people?
What about the fact that I cannot walk into a petrol station or supermarket (In the UK)without being tempted to look at those pics. If you are going to allow porn(which I personally see as much much worse than legalizing drugs)atleast keep it in the news agents but not where
I have to buy my essentials because it infringes on my rights as not respecting me being a religous person. The same applies to putting pictures on cosmetic products which show partial nudity or billboard adverts. In other words freedom and respect go hand in hand. Otherwise you have anarchy. What I am saying is consider the feelings of religous people as well even if you may not have the same beliefs as them.That is what a multicultural society and democracy is all about.
Posted by DannyJock (7 comments )
Link Flag
The Government is smoke screening
The government's intent here is not just limiting the access of pornography to kids. If that was their intent they would be taking a totally different approach on this subject. The current administration is trying to launch an outright attack on pornography in general.

If the government really wanted to make pornography easy to filter out so that you could simply protect you kids, they would not have opposed the .xxx high level domain. In fact, they would have embraced it, and put a caveat in there that all pornography MUST be in the .xxx domain.

The government refusing to accept and embrace the .xxx domain shows that they have no interest in actually working to rectify the problem, and allow pornography on the internet, and make an easy way to filter it out for kids. This tatic shows that they have one intent, and one intent only, to remove pornography from the internet. (Like that is possible)
Posted by bemenaker (438 comments )
Reply Link Flag
One question,
Why?

Also, surely children accessing images of violence is going to harm them a lot more.
Posted by Mutex (40 comments )
Link Flag
Foolish Theory
<<The current administration is trying to launch an outright attack on pornography in general. >>

Another foolish left-wing conspiracy theory. Your xxx domain example is just horrible. The government knows that publishing content under .com, .net, .org, etc, is a right, and they did not interfere with the industry's ability to publish content under any domain they choose. You see, they were PROTECTING the rights of the adult entertainment industry. You really have it backwards.

And now, they are doing a STUDY to determine which methods best accomplish the goal of upholding the adult-content distribution problem, and they were careful to ask for data that would not violate any person's rights.

The governmetn is working to address everybody's concerns in this matter while protecting our freedoms. Your loony conspiracy theory is... just that. Loony.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
What about respecting the feelings of religous people?
What about the fact that I cannot walk into a petrol station or supermarket (In the UK)without being tempted to look at those pics. If you are going to allow porn(which I personally see as much much worse than legalizing drugs)atleast keep it in the news agents but not where
I have to buy my essentials because it infringes on my rights as not respecting me being a religous person. The same applies to putting pictures on cosmetic products which show partial nudity or billboard adverts. In other words freedom and respect go hand in hand. Otherwise you have anarchy. What I am saying is consider the feelings of religous people as well even if you may not have the same beliefs as them.That is what a multicultural society and democracy is all about.
Posted by DannyJock (7 comments )
Link Flag
This is incredibly easy to fix
This problem has such an easy fix I'm not in the least bit surprised someone hasn't thought of it.
The .XXX domain name. Get it going. If a site is to be pornographic, it MUST be labeled with .XXX domains. Then, to block porn, simply block all .XXX domains.
If someone is caught hosting/making a pornographic site that is not .XXX, then massive fines and jail/prison time occurs.
This can't be that hard to figure out. And I'm sure other countries will jump on this idea. It can also be applied to gambling sites (.GAM) or... ok, now I'm drawing a blank as to what other sites people want to block. But there is no reason this simple idea won't work... other than it being too easy for any government to catch on to.
Posted by Erik the Beige (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Only if a question is answered
Just one question. Who determines what is porn? Until you get everyone to agree on what is porn and what is not the .xxx domain will not work.
Posted by VI Joker (231 comments )
Link Flag
Easy in Thoery, Difficult in Real Implementation
I am in agreeance with the statement of this proposed fix. However, getting even our own country to conform to the proposed separation has proved quite difficult. And who makes the classification and what is that criteria? Do sex education sites get .xxx tags? What agency would govern that and what recourse do sites that feel they have improperly been labeled have? What about forums and newsgroups? "Inappropriate content" can be classified as more than just a porn site, including text as well as media.

My point here is that it takes active monitoring, and there is no infrastructure in place at this time to do so outside of filtering applications.
Posted by cryhavoc2112 (41 comments )
Link Flag
Will NOT work.
First, how do you enforce this rule around the world??

Secondly, you are proposing to take away a freedom/right... A company can buy whatever unclaimed domain they can think up... and publish the content that they choose to publish. This is a freedom. Now you want to tell everybody in the country what domain extensions they must use, and what content belongs under which domain extension... never going to work. How do you police THAT?? Subpeona more records from Google, I suppose........
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
This is incredibly easy to fix
This problem has such an easy fix I'm not in the least bit surprised someone hasn't thought of it.
The .XXX domain name. Get it going. If a site is to be pornographic, it MUST be labeled with .XXX domains. Then, to block porn, simply block all .XXX domains.
If someone is caught hosting/making a pornographic site that is not .XXX, then massive fines and jail/prison time occurs.
This can't be that hard to figure out. And I'm sure other countries will jump on this idea. It can also be applied to gambling sites (.GAM) or... ok, now I'm drawing a blank as to what other sites people want to block. But there is no reason this simple idea won't work... other than it being too easy for any government to catch on to.
Posted by Erik the Beige (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Only if a question is answered
Just one question. Who determines what is porn? Until you get everyone to agree on what is porn and what is not the .xxx domain will not work.
Posted by VI Joker (231 comments )
Link Flag
Easy in Thoery, Difficult in Real Implementation
I am in agreeance with the statement of this proposed fix. However, getting even our own country to conform to the proposed separation has proved quite difficult. And who makes the classification and what is that criteria? Do sex education sites get .xxx tags? What agency would govern that and what recourse do sites that feel they have improperly been labeled have? What about forums and newsgroups? "Inappropriate content" can be classified as more than just a porn site, including text as well as media.

My point here is that it takes active monitoring, and there is no infrastructure in place at this time to do so outside of filtering applications.
Posted by cryhavoc2112 (41 comments )
Link Flag
Will NOT work.
First, how do you enforce this rule around the world??

Secondly, you are proposing to take away a freedom/right... A company can buy whatever unclaimed domain they can think up... and publish the content that they choose to publish. This is a freedom. Now you want to tell everybody in the country what domain extensions they must use, and what content belongs under which domain extension... never going to work. How do you police THAT?? Subpeona more records from Google, I suppose........
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
No, they don't...
That's MY job.
Posted by chassoto--2008 (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You can't take a job from the police
It is also the government's job to enforce laws, whether you help them out or not. Just like cops have to sit and clock speeders, adult content distribution has for a long time been regulated and monitored for compliance. Its great that you do your part... now lets not cut the teeth out of our laws.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
No, they don't...
That's MY job.
Posted by chassoto--2008 (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You can't take a job from the police
It is also the government's job to enforce laws, whether you help them out or not. Just like cops have to sit and clock speeders, adult content distribution has for a long time been regulated and monitored for compliance. Its great that you do your part... now lets not cut the teeth out of our laws.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Yes changes have to made
Its complete chaos on the web right now. You will hit porn sites whether you intended or not that is guaranteed. I wanted to go to dilbert.com and typed dilber.com by mistake and it took me to a porn site and that was at WORK!! Also one time in college I was looking for the legend of Zelda and typed zelda.com and it was a porn site (that site was later sued by Nintendo). Point is porn sites are competing for customers and they're trying to take advantage of any keywords even those usually used by kids (like game name) and also using typos which any one can make. If adults who are not looking for porn will stumble on it, imagine what happens with kids?
Posted by Sure Thing (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
QUIT IT!
Any newbie knows that, if they don't know the exact address for the content they need, you use a search engine! You don't just type in any old address and close-your-eyes-and-cross-your-fingers still, do you?

Do people still randomly type in www.????.com? I thought people clued into this a long time ago. If not...now you know! :)
Posted by gefitz (1116 comments )
Link Flag
Yes changes have to made
Its complete chaos on the web right now. You will hit porn sites whether you intended or not that is guaranteed. I wanted to go to dilbert.com and typed dilber.com by mistake and it took me to a porn site and that was at WORK!! Also one time in college I was looking for the legend of Zelda and typed zelda.com and it was a porn site (that site was later sued by Nintendo). Point is porn sites are competing for customers and they're trying to take advantage of any keywords even those usually used by kids (like game name) and also using typos which any one can make. If adults who are not looking for porn will stumble on it, imagine what happens with kids?
Posted by Sure Thing (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
QUIT IT!
Any newbie knows that, if they don't know the exact address for the content they need, you use a search engine! You don't just type in any old address and close-your-eyes-and-cross-your-fingers still, do you?

Do people still randomly type in www.????.com? I thought people clued into this a long time ago. If not...now you know! :)
Posted by gefitz (1116 comments )
Link Flag
The amount
How much cleavage has to be showen to be considered porn?
Posted by feedbackuser5 (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re:
This message was supposed to been replyed under Brian Emenaker "There is a definition of porn already" Don't know why it posted here after I loged in.
Posted by feedbackuser5 (25 comments )
Link Flag
1.7 inches in the US...8.926 in Norway....
EOC
Posted by gefitz (1116 comments )
Link Flag
The amount
How much cleavage has to be showen to be considered porn?
Posted by feedbackuser5 (25 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re:
This message was supposed to been replyed under Brian Emenaker "There is a definition of porn already" Don't know why it posted here after I loged in.
Posted by feedbackuser5 (25 comments )
Link Flag
1.7 inches in the US...8.926 in Norway....
EOC
Posted by gefitz (1116 comments )
Link Flag
...Which makes the .xxx domain USELESS!
None of the international nations involved in the discussion have bought into the idea of forcing "porn" to register as a .xxx domain. Unless this happens, it makes no sense at all to bother legislation in the US that porn sites must do this or that or the other thing. The point is that doing this a) will simply force porn sites the "home" in a country other than the US.

At this point, I think a large percentage of what the US considers "web-porn" is probably hosted out of US jurisdiction. So, a monolithic move to force the .xxx domain would be pointless unless other countries agree to do it as well.

Which brings up...how are all those countries going to agree on what "porn" is?

ALL A POINTLESS ENDEAVOR!
Posted by gefitz (1116 comments )
Reply Link Flag
a political ploy perhaps
Trying to agitate the US public about porn might be an attempt to wedge government control of the global international internet into law---at least as far as US residents are concerned. There are a number of hyper-alert people who worry that, in the Bush administration, various measures of trying to encroach on people's constitutional rights are a systematic effort to make the US more like a dictatorship. One way to promote curtailment of rights is to create or allow situations and conditions for which the proposed solution is the curtailment of the rights you want to get rid of. This has been done before. One practitioner of this technique was Hitler.
Posted by RavingEniac (57 comments )
Link Flag
...Which makes the .xxx domain USELESS!
None of the international nations involved in the discussion have bought into the idea of forcing "porn" to register as a .xxx domain. Unless this happens, it makes no sense at all to bother legislation in the US that porn sites must do this or that or the other thing. The point is that doing this a) will simply force porn sites the "home" in a country other than the US.

At this point, I think a large percentage of what the US considers "web-porn" is probably hosted out of US jurisdiction. So, a monolithic move to force the .xxx domain would be pointless unless other countries agree to do it as well.

Which brings up...how are all those countries going to agree on what "porn" is?

ALL A POINTLESS ENDEAVOR!
Posted by gefitz (1116 comments )
Reply Link Flag
a political ploy perhaps
Trying to agitate the US public about porn might be an attempt to wedge government control of the global international internet into law---at least as far as US residents are concerned. There are a number of hyper-alert people who worry that, in the Bush administration, various measures of trying to encroach on people's constitutional rights are a systematic effort to make the US more like a dictatorship. One way to promote curtailment of rights is to create or allow situations and conditions for which the proposed solution is the curtailment of the rights you want to get rid of. This has been done before. One practitioner of this technique was Hitler.
Posted by RavingEniac (57 comments )
Link Flag
Should be under the .xxx domain discussion above...
Mine posted in the wrong place! Ugh...
Posted by gefitz (1116 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Should be under the .xxx domain discussion above...
Mine posted in the wrong place! Ugh...
Posted by gefitz (1116 comments )
Reply Link Flag
as a teenager
as a teenager, i know that when i am a parent i woulod be worried if my son wasnt interested. come on, its only natural, we teens a curious and some of us, especially those that read cnet, dont have the skills with girls :P
Posted by duke12aw (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I hold a different opinion
I love tecnology and cnet is my source of news too, I do not however, believe that an intrest in this portrayal of human sexuality is a very good one at all. Thus, I believe that wanting and desiring to see it online is not a good indication of 'intrest in it'. I am however not in favor of personal webfilters, I believe that they only widen the chasm between the parents and their children. This is because normally children are presented a picture of trust until the trust is broken and a premptive action such as this does not agree with that. I think that the possible psychological side effects far outway the need for a personal webfilter. Finally webfilters are relatively easy to get past anyhow as stated in the article.
Posted by TheTechKid (66 comments )
Link Flag
as a teenager
as a teenager, i know that when i am a parent i woulod be worried if my son wasnt interested. come on, its only natural, we teens a curious and some of us, especially those that read cnet, dont have the skills with girls :P
Posted by duke12aw (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I hold a different opinion
I love tecnology and cnet is my source of news too, I do not however, believe that an intrest in this portrayal of human sexuality is a very good one at all. Thus, I believe that wanting and desiring to see it online is not a good indication of 'intrest in it'. I am however not in favor of personal webfilters, I believe that they only widen the chasm between the parents and their children. This is because normally children are presented a picture of trust until the trust is broken and a premptive action such as this does not agree with that. I think that the possible psychological side effects far outway the need for a personal webfilter. Finally webfilters are relatively easy to get past anyhow as stated in the article.
Posted by TheTechKid (66 comments )
Link Flag
How About Fingerprint Scans?
I've written about this before on a different article, and last time I had a couple of people write in to contradict me. I suggested that fingerprint scans would be an excellent way to go, when it comes to porn sites. While web filters are practical, kids can cheat any internet filter with enough knowledge. But fingerprint scans are quite difficult to cheat. They are also relatively inexpensive---I've seen a Microsoft keyboard for under $100.00, that has a fingerprint scanner.

Fingerprints are a clear way for people to identify themselves on a computer. It would seem they would be good for banking and other sensitive transactions as well. In porn sires, they would allow for identification without disclosing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers.

The people that wrote in to contradict me seemed to suggest that the idea would open up the door for intense governmental interference, and loss of privacy. But I believe that if the fingerprint identities were located on each person's individual computer(just as names are, when people log in) it would cause no problems. I.E.-You place
your fingerprint identity in with your name and your age when you first log onto your computer. It would be the responsibility of parents to ensure that their kids log in the first time with their correct age. The computer would identify by fingerprint after that, and set the rules accordingly.
Posted by Michael G. (185 comments )
Reply Link Flag
but
how many parents are actually going to do that? Only the concerned. Most will do what they continue to do already: give the kid the computer and let them do whatever.

Also, how long before the kids with enough knowledge pull a bit from national treasure where they get their parents' fingerprints and use them to surf where they want to go?
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Link Flag
Why "finger-print scanners" are a bad idea...
Actually, "fingerprint scanners" are planned to be part of Microsofts "Trusted Computing" scheme. In fact, "Vista" (the next version of "Windows") will have integrated APIs (Application Programmers Interfaces - how software talks to the Operating-System) to do just that.

And, if the technology were simply used by me, the computers-owner, to control access to my own computer, ...that would be fine.

However, the overall plan is primarily designed around the eventual idea of a "Trusted Computer" being able to "attest", to both "local-software and services" and "external-devices", what software is being used (down to installed service patches and drivers), ...who is authorized (licensed) to use the computer, ...and to allow "remote-identification" of "acceptable uses".

...And yes, that would include being able to identify, and therefore externally-log the activities of each individual-person who uses a computer.

Many industry-analysts have stated that the primary uses of such technology would be, ..."locking" consumers into Microsoft-controlled technology, ...imposing "DRM" restrictions, ...extracting revenue from any technology-company that wished to produce anything which runs on a PC, ...and allowing the "tracking" of virtually all "online-activities".

Furthermore, based upon current and past actions, its hardly a stretch to expect that the government would consider this a "minor loss of freedom" in the name of "protecting the citizens of America" from any number of, "...threats to our way of life".

So, finally, why should I be forced to show ID to use my own computer? Why should I be forced to cough-up an extra one-hundred dollars (your figure) for a computer? Why should I be forced to pay Microsoft, if I want to create, or sell, any computer-product? And, why should I accept being BIO-Metrically "identified", and most certainly "tracked", whenever I use the Internet?

In short, based upon recent business, and government, events, ...why should I risk any of this..?
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Link Flag
Not the way to go
Fingerprint scanners are relly cool and in fact to get into school each morning I have to use one. For this reason, I happen to know that when you need to get access to whatever the fingerprint scanner is protecting the most, it won't work. Secondly, just because you're using a fingerprint to gain access to a site does nt neccessarily mean that the website does not get your credit information or know where you live. If fingerprints were ever adopted for this purpose, they would most certainly be linked directly to all of this information to provide ease of use. This is because whenever you only give whats needed(a router can deal with data like this) while it ends up being more efficient as opposed to giving out all available data and letting the end user decided if its needed or even for them(a hub) it presents the problem of the main storage (The government) needing a more complex network of people to deal with it. The complexity of this efficient but complex model is exactly why the government would not choose it but rather choose the inefficient model so that if something goes wrong they can blame it on someone else and not themselves.
In summary, while fingerprints could make identification easier it would not be any more secure. Also, it would be implemented improperly by the government and therefore instead of securing our data it would rather invade our privacy.
Posted by TheTechKid (66 comments )
Link Flag
How About Fingerprint Scans?
I've written about this before on a different article, and last time I had a couple of people write in to contradict me. I suggested that fingerprint scans would be an excellent way to go, when it comes to porn sites. While web filters are practical, kids can cheat any internet filter with enough knowledge. But fingerprint scans are quite difficult to cheat. They are also relatively inexpensive---I've seen a Microsoft keyboard for under $100.00, that has a fingerprint scanner.

Fingerprints are a clear way for people to identify themselves on a computer. It would seem they would be good for banking and other sensitive transactions as well. In porn sires, they would allow for identification without disclosing sensitive information, such as credit card numbers.

The people that wrote in to contradict me seemed to suggest that the idea would open up the door for intense governmental interference, and loss of privacy. But I believe that if the fingerprint identities were located on each person's individual computer(just as names are, when people log in) it would cause no problems. I.E.-You place
your fingerprint identity in with your name and your age when you first log onto your computer. It would be the responsibility of parents to ensure that their kids log in the first time with their correct age. The computer would identify by fingerprint after that, and set the rules accordingly.
Posted by Michael G. (185 comments )
Reply Link Flag
but
how many parents are actually going to do that? Only the concerned. Most will do what they continue to do already: give the kid the computer and let them do whatever.

Also, how long before the kids with enough knowledge pull a bit from national treasure where they get their parents' fingerprints and use them to surf where they want to go?
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Link Flag
Why "finger-print scanners" are a bad idea...
Actually, "fingerprint scanners" are planned to be part of Microsofts "Trusted Computing" scheme. In fact, "Vista" (the next version of "Windows") will have integrated APIs (Application Programmers Interfaces - how software talks to the Operating-System) to do just that.

And, if the technology were simply used by me, the computers-owner, to control access to my own computer, ...that would be fine.

However, the overall plan is primarily designed around the eventual idea of a "Trusted Computer" being able to "attest", to both "local-software and services" and "external-devices", what software is being used (down to installed service patches and drivers), ...who is authorized (licensed) to use the computer, ...and to allow "remote-identification" of "acceptable uses".

...And yes, that would include being able to identify, and therefore externally-log the activities of each individual-person who uses a computer.

Many industry-analysts have stated that the primary uses of such technology would be, ..."locking" consumers into Microsoft-controlled technology, ...imposing "DRM" restrictions, ...extracting revenue from any technology-company that wished to produce anything which runs on a PC, ...and allowing the "tracking" of virtually all "online-activities".

Furthermore, based upon current and past actions, its hardly a stretch to expect that the government would consider this a "minor loss of freedom" in the name of "protecting the citizens of America" from any number of, "...threats to our way of life".

So, finally, why should I be forced to show ID to use my own computer? Why should I be forced to cough-up an extra one-hundred dollars (your figure) for a computer? Why should I be forced to pay Microsoft, if I want to create, or sell, any computer-product? And, why should I accept being BIO-Metrically "identified", and most certainly "tracked", whenever I use the Internet?

In short, based upon recent business, and government, events, ...why should I risk any of this..?
Posted by Gayle Edwards (262 comments )
Link Flag
Not the way to go
Fingerprint scanners are relly cool and in fact to get into school each morning I have to use one. For this reason, I happen to know that when you need to get access to whatever the fingerprint scanner is protecting the most, it won't work. Secondly, just because you're using a fingerprint to gain access to a site does nt neccessarily mean that the website does not get your credit information or know where you live. If fingerprints were ever adopted for this purpose, they would most certainly be linked directly to all of this information to provide ease of use. This is because whenever you only give whats needed(a router can deal with data like this) while it ends up being more efficient as opposed to giving out all available data and letting the end user decided if its needed or even for them(a hub) it presents the problem of the main storage (The government) needing a more complex network of people to deal with it. The complexity of this efficient but complex model is exactly why the government would not choose it but rather choose the inefficient model so that if something goes wrong they can blame it on someone else and not themselves.
In summary, while fingerprints could make identification easier it would not be any more secure. Also, it would be implemented improperly by the government and therefore instead of securing our data it would rather invade our privacy.
Posted by TheTechKid (66 comments )
Link Flag
The Clean Internet Is the Solution!
People should have a choice not to have a choice.
In other words Porn is also bad for adults.Look how many marriages it has broken.(Besides the terrible sin of masturbation) Many people want to use the internet but without the temptations. I would rather have an option where I could get a service provider that filters the internet before it arrives to my house or business. There is a huge market where people are willing to pay extra premiums instead of worrying about what enters their house. Also in the contract it will be that nobody can change there contract and suddenly allow porn.
Posted by DannyJock (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It already exists
There is a christian ISP I saw last week advertising on television.
Search for family ISP in google and at least 3 church based ISP's are returned, do the work yourself, do not ask the gov't to do it for you.
Posted by schubb (202 comments )
Link Flag
The Clean Internet Is the Solution!
People should have a choice not to have a choice.
In other words Porn is also bad for adults.Look how many marriages it has broken.(Besides the terrible sin of masturbation) Many people want to use the internet but without the temptations. I would rather have an option where I could get a service provider that filters the internet before it arrives to my house or business. There is a huge market where people are willing to pay extra premiums instead of worrying about what enters their house. Also in the contract it will be that nobody can change there contract and suddenly allow porn.
Posted by DannyJock (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It already exists
There is a christian ISP I saw last week advertising on television.
Search for family ISP in google and at least 3 church based ISP's are returned, do the work yourself, do not ask the gov't to do it for you.
Posted by schubb (202 comments )
Link Flag
Flawed article
I don't see Cyberian mentioned in this article at all but I feel that their content rating (including sub-levels and multi category) are by far superior to the list of vendors mentioned here.

But regardless, even if a .xxx or a .sex domain was created... it still won't 100% solve the porn issue.

As for spending money to prove that those content filtering software on the market today is a waste of money... EVERY SINGLE CONTENT FILTER MAKER... Cyberian inclusive has the same problem.

Images are stored in bits and bytes. And there is NO WAY to program a computer to display Bambi the deer but not Bambi the stripper because the file name is Bambi.jpg. And how is the computer supposed to determine what is and what is not porn when it can't even be defined in words... much less programming language looking at images.

The best description I've seen for pornography is: I know it when I see it. But that's not programmable into computers... even when fuzzy logic is used.

That said... proving current content filters don't filter out 100% is a waste of unnecessary money which could be better used elsewhere.

Anybody can create a home page (corporate or personal) and anybody can create a blog (corporate or personal). Once the site getsw a [Business] rating... all it takes is one hack o rone employee to spend a few minutes uploading porn or swapping out ligitimate pics with porn pics and wala... NONE of the content filters work.

And then you have the problem of cache servers where even if the pornography site is blocked... Google, Yahoo and or any other cache server site will still retain a copy of the pornographic image in it's cache. And as Google, Yahoo or any other business site is rated as [Internet] or [Search Engine], occasionally pornographic images can be retrieved from those cache servers.

Bottom Line: Domain names won't stop porn... nor will content filters guarantee 100% porn free sites.

So where does that leave us... in a world where parents should be allowed to set up their own safe-sites White List.

Anything outside of that is considered pulling the wool over the sheep's eyes.

Walt
Posted by wbenton (522 comments )
Reply Link Flag
As I said before - Clean Internet
The only solution is to filter it from the server side. If it reaches the home the internet content filter will always be capable of overriding. I think a clean internet database
should be formed in which only sites which fulfill its standards would be included and otherwised fined or taken out of the list. If it is a webshop or mall that sells lingerie that part of the shop should be clearly distinguishable from the rest of the website so it can be blocked from the clean internet.
Posted by DannyJock (7 comments )
Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.