December 9, 1995
Web posted at: 6:40 p.m. EST
From Correspondent Don Knapp
SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- With a basic computer and a mouse, the world is at a child's finger tips. The possibilities are thrilling for children and frightening to many parents who fear the unauthorized connections their children might make with strangers and strange sites.
How can children explore the farthest reaches of the Internet without plunging into its deepest depths? As Congress works on one solution with proposed regulations that some call censorship, the Internet industry works on a technical fix with programs to block objectionable material.
Software developers say their products are better than what the government can do with anti-cyberporn laws.
"First of all," said Jay Friedland a developer of SurfWatch filtering software for the Internet, "they can choose to buy our software, or not buy our software. And the other thing, it has an on-off switch. If the government gets involved there's no chance to get that on-off switch." (94K AIFF sound or 94K WAV sound)
"SurfWatch" blocks 2,000 sites on the Internet and uses key words and phrases to search for and block about 2,000 others. Web surfers, primarily university students, update the program monthly.
"We can focus the children on what they are to learn, and not have them off surfing and looking for things they shouldn't be getting into. SurfWatch has helped with that," said Virginia Davis, an elementary school teacher.
The burgeoning Internet programming industry worries about government regulation and about efforts to finalize standards for building cyberporn controls into Internet programs.
"There's no system, whether it's legislative or it's a piece of software that's foolproof. And I would argue, this way, you'll get pervasive implementation of it and you'll get it rapidly. It's the old free market thing because we know people want it," said Mike Homer, of Netscape Communications. (165K AIFF sound or 165K WAV sound)
"Its not foolproof and can't be made foolproof and there's no replacement for proper education and instilling ethics in your children," said Steve Cook, a parent concerned about children's access to cyberporn. (160K AIFF sound or 160K WAV sound)
Whether technology limits access, or Congress limits the Internet, it's what happens at home that ultimately controls what gets into kids' heads.
Copyright © 1995 Cable News Network, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.