The use of filtering software for Internet censorship is an issue that will grow in importance over the next few years, and this is a site that will give you all the information that the software's manufacturers don't want you to know. With the Federal Government trying to force everyone to use filters, it's a good idea to know more on the subject, particularly as it concerns our democratic rights to communicate with each other.

Created in 1996 by high school students to protest against attempts to censor them, Peacefire has grown into a Web-wide clearinghouse of resources on all aspects of censorship software. This is a very good thing, because without sites like this we wouldn't be informed about the often sloppy, inaccurate or even deliberately restrictive blocking behaviours of many of these products. Many sites are inappropriately blocked, sometimes for political reasons, but since filter makers won't release their lists to the public, we wouldn't hear about it without investigations such as those carried out by Peacefire.

One indication of the effectiveness of this site is that Symantec has threatened legal action against it for revealing the list of blocked sites in its iGear product, showing that many were inappropriately listed. Mattel is also taking legal action against Peacefire for revealing the truth about its Cyber Patrol software. The fact that some computer companies will take legal action to prevent people from stating the truth about what their product actually does, should be of concern to all computer owners and users.

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Aldis Ozols

PC World
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