Internet Filters Provide Parents Another Tool to Keep Children Safe from Porn

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    By John Gale

    With a $57-billion-a-year industry, 30,000 new links and 5,000 new sites every day, pornography is a business that has become a serious force to battle.

    One way of guarding against pornography is to install an Internet filters on personal computers.

    Internet Filter Review 2007 has compiled their reviews and rankings for the 10 filters that they rated the highest.

    The filters range in price from $17.70 to $69.95 for an annual subscription. The filters that received gold, silver and bronze awards are ContentProtect, CYBERsitter and NetNanny. All of these filters are in the $35-40 range.

    ContentProtect was the top-rated filter. It is produced by ContentWatch, a Salt Lake City-based company that also owns NetNanny, which it purchased last month.

    “Our consumer line will adapt the NetNanny brand, but it will be the same technology underneath,” said Scott Nelson, the vice president of marketing for ContentWatch. “We”ll just adopt the NetNanny brand on our consumer line of products.”

    According to the review, ContentProtect was highly effective in filtering and even detecting pornography on foreign language Web sites, an area where most of its competitors were weak.

    Another feature ContentProtect offers is its ability to be monitored and adjusted remotely from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection and a password.

    Nelson said there are two ways to filter the Internet. The first way, that most filters do, is to have a huge database with millions of Web sites that are categorized and filtered based on the user”s policy.

    He said problems occur with this method because the Internet is so vast and is constantly changing

    “A couple years ago, Janet Jackson has a ”wardrobe malfunction,” and that was a great example,” he said. “That”s not something I want my kids reading. Yet because CNN is a news site, there”s no way to block against that because the URL has already been pre-categorized.”

    Nelson said the second filtering method, which ContentWatch uses, has dynamic contextual analysis, which means the filter analyzes and categorizes the content of a Web site in real-time based on the text and other elements of the page.

    He said ContentWatch”s technology will allow access to portals or news sites most of the time, but will filter them out if there is an objectionable story on the page.

    “Basically, it”s to protect families with a focus on protecting children,” he said. “But at the same time, the pornography epidemic is not just a children or teen problem. It affects relationships, husband and wife. There are statistics that both men and women use of pornography is on the rise.”

    As an alternative to the paid filters, there are several free filters that can be downloaded. K9 Web Protection is probably the most notable of these.

    In April 2006, Blue Coat Systems Inc., a successful provider of Internet filters for Fortune 500 companies, governments and other enterprises, announced it would release a free filter for home use based on its commercial filters.

    Blue Coat is a nationally traded company on the NASDAQ that is based in Sunnydale, Calif. In November 2004, it bought Cerberian, located in Draper, and Cerberian became . the core of Blue Coat”s current filtering technology.

    John Carosella, the vice president of content control at Blue Coat, said he and others at the company were impressed with the Cerberian technology to the point that they wanted it in their homes.

    “We wanted the product in the marketplace because we wanted to use it,” he said. “We decided it was very practical and good for business to make it available to homes. It provides additional feedback loop, brand recognition, and it”s the right thing to do.”

    Blue Coat says their filter is more effective than most other filters because of the way it is designed.

    Instead of downloading a database of sites to block that may quickly become obsolete, K9 has a centralized database that is constantly updated.

    Carosella said K9 users have the advantage of using the same database that is used for their commercial filters, which means that the user base is extremely broad and relevant because it is driven by the customer base.

    “If you can build a product that can take advantage of an Internet-based feedback loop, you”re going to have a superior product to someone who doesn”t because you just can”t beat the law of large numbers,” he said.

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