Marjorie Heins & Christina Cho

Fall, 2001

Copyright 2001 National Coalition Against Censorship Any part of this report may be reproduced without charge so long as acknowledgment is given to the Free Expression Policy Project. For additional copies, contact or go to





  • America Online Parental Controls
  • BESS
  • ClickSafe
  • Cyber Patrol
  • Cyber Sentinel
  • CYBERsitter
  • Family Click
  • I-Gear
  • Internet Guard Dog
  • Net Nanny
  • Net Shepherd
  • Norton Internet Security
  • Safe Server
  • Safe Surf
  • Smart Filter
  • SurfWatch
  • We-Blocker
  • WebSENSE
  • X-Stop


APPENDIX A: Blocked Sites by Subject: Artistic and Literary; Sexuality Education; Gay and Lesbian Information; Political Topics/Human Rights; Censorship

APPENDIX B: Blocking Categories for Different Filters Defined


In the spring and summer of 2001, the Free Expression Policy Project of the National Coalition Against Censorship surveyed all of the studies and tests that it was able to locate describing the actual operation of 19 products or software programs that are commonly used to filter out World Wide Web sites and other communications on the Internet. This report summarizes the results of that survey. Its purpose is to provide a resource for policymakers and the general public as they grapple with the difficult, often hotly contested issues raised by the now-widespread use of Internet filters.

The existing studies and tests vary widely. They range from anecdotal accounts to extensive tests applying social-science methodologies. In some instances, we located only one or two test reports; in other cases—for example, Cyber Patrol, SmartFilter, and X-Stop—we found a great many. Most tests simply describe the actual sites that a particular product blocked when Web searches were conducted. Nearly every one, however, revealed massive over-blocking by filtering software.

This problem stems from the very nature of filtering, which must, because of the sheer number of Internet sites, rely to a large extent on mindless mechanical blocking through identification of key words and phrases. Where human judgment does come into play, filtering decisions are based on different companies' broad and varying concepts of offensiveness, "inappropriateness," or disagreement with the political viewpoint of the manufacturer. A few examples of over-blocking from the more than 70 studies or tests summarized in this report are:

  • BESS blocked the home pages of the Traditional Values Coalition and Massachusetts Congressman Edward Markey.
  • Cyber Patrol blocked MIT's League for Programming Freedom, part of the City of Hiroshima Web site, Georgia O'Keeffe and Vincent Van Gogh sites, and the monogamy-advocating Society for the Promotion of Unconditional Relationships.
  • CYBERsitter blocked virtually all gay and lesbian sites and, after detecting the phrase "least 21," blocked a news item on the Amnesty International Web site (the offending sentence read, "Reports of shootings in Irian Jaya bring to at least 21 the number of people in Indonesia and East Timor killed or wounded").
  • I-Gear blocked an essay on "Indecency on the Internet: Lessons from the Art World," the United Nations report "HIV/AIDS: The Global Epidemic," and the home pages of four photography galleries.
  • Net Nanny, SurfWatch, Cybersitter, and BESS, among other products, blocked House Majority Leader Richard "Dick" Armey's official Web site upon detecting the word "dick."
  • SafeSurf blocked the home pages of the Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union and the National Coalition Against Censorship.
  • SmartFilter blocked the Declaration of Independence, Shakespeare's complete plays, Moby Dick, and Marijuana: Facts for Teens, a brochure published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (a division of the National Institutes of Health).
  • SurfWatch blocked such human-rights sites as the Commissioner of the Council of the Baltic Sea States and Algeria Watch, as well as the University of Kansas's Archie R. Dykes Medical Library (upon detecting the word "dykes").
  • WebSENSE blocked the Jewish Teens page and the Canine Molecular Genetics Project at Michigan State University.
  • X-Stop blocked the National Journal of Sexual Orientation Law, Carnegie Mellon University's Banned Books page, "Let's Have an Affair" catering company, and, through its "foul word" function, searches for Bastard Out of Carolina and "The Owl and the Pussy Cat."


The still new, revolutionary medium of the Internet contains a wealth of information, images, and ideas—as the U.S. Supreme Court observed in 1997, "the content on the Internet is as diverse as human thought." Unsurprisingly, not all of this online expression is accurate, pleasant, or inoffensive. Virtually since the arrival of the Internet, concerns have been expressed about minors' access to online pornography, about the proliferation of Web sites advocating racial hatred, and about other online content deemed to be offensive or dangerous. Congress and the states responded in the late 1990s with censorship laws, but most of these have been struck down by the courts. Partly as a result, individual parents, employers, school districts, and other government entities have turned with increasing frequency to privately manufactured Internet rating and filtering programs.

Early Internet filtering was based on either "self-rating" by those who published online communications; or "third-party rating" by filter manufacturers. Because of the Internet's explosive growth (now more than a billion Web sites, many of which change daily), and the consequent inability of filtering companies to review and evaluate even a fraction of it, third-party rating had to rely largely on mechanical blocking by key words or phrases such as "over 18," "breast," "sex," or "pussy." The results were not difficult to predict: large quantities of valuable information and literature, particularly about sexuality, feminism, gay and lesbian issues, civil rights, and other politically important subjects, were blocked.

Even where company employees did review Web sites, there arose massive problems of subjectivity. The political attitudes of the different filter manufacturers were reflected in blocking decisions, particularly with respect to such subjects as homosexuality, human rights, and criticism of filtering software. The alternative, self-rating, did not suffer these disadvantages, but it proved impossible to persuade the great majority of online speakers to self-rate their sites. Online news organizations, for example, are among those that steadfastly refused to reduce their content to decontextualized, simplistic letters or codes through self-rating.

Third-party rating and filtering systems have thus become the industry standard, at least in the United States. Private software companies actively market such products as SurfWatch and Cyber Patrol, which contain multiple categories of potentially offensive, "inappropriate," or "objectionable" material. Internet service providers such as America Online provide "parental control" options that block Web sites based on technological word or phrase identification, augmented by the company's—or its subcontractor's—judgments about age-appropriateness. Some manufacturers market products that essentially block all of the Internet, with only a few hundred or thousand preselected sites accessible (so-called whitelists). One company—later the subject of a First Amendment lawsuit—erroneously claimed that its "X-Stop" software was able to identify and block only "illegal" obscenity and child pornography: an impossible task, since legal judgments in both categories are subjective, and under the Supreme Court's three-part obscenity test, determinations of legality vary depending on different communities' standards of "prurience" and "patent offensiveness."2

The late 1990s saw political battles in many communities over the use of filtering products in public libraries. New groups such as Family Friendly Libraries attacked the American Library Association (ALA) for adhering to a no-censorship and no-filtering policy, even for minors. (The ALA and other champions of intellectual freedom objected to the over-blocking propensities of filtering software, and advocated noncensorial approaches such as privacy screens and "acceptable use" policies.) Online anti-censorship groups such as the Censorware Project and Peacefire began to publish reports documenting the blocking of numerous valuable, educational sites by different filters. In December 2000, Congress passed the Children's Internet Protection Act ("CIPA"), mandating filters in all schools and libraries that receive federal financial assistance through the E-rate or "universal service" program, or through the Library Services and Technology Act.3 This amounted to about 60% of the nation's libraries and public schools.

Thus, although initially promoted as a voluntary alternative to coercive government censorship, Internet filtering is now embraced by government at both the federal and local levels. Reports of over-blocking, of vague and subjective standards, and of politically biased blocking decisions continue, while industry spokespersons assert that their methodologies are improving and that new software programs designed to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable material will soon be on the market. But no filtering technology, no matter how sophisticated, can make contextualized judgments about the value, offensiveness, or age-appropriateness of online expression.

Internet filtering has thus become a major public policy issue, and is likely to remain so. In the interests of advancing informed debate on this important issue, the Free Expression Policy Project has collected and summarized all of the studies and tests that it has been able to locate on the actual operation of Internet filters. The report presents this information in one place and in readily accessible form, so that the ongoing policy debate will be better informed about what Internet filters actually do, and their ultimate impact on free expression.

The report is organized by filtering product. Necessarily, there is some overlap, since many studies have sampled more than one product. A bibliography of all the studies is included, along with an appendix listing blocked sites according to subject: artistic and literary sites; sexuality education; gay and lesbian information; political topics; and sites relating to censorship itself. (Another appendix, describing the blocking categories used by different products, is available in the online version of this report.)

Where the study gives Web addresses or URLs, we have included these and checked their accuracy whenever possible. (Some Web addresses are now obsolete.) If we have not given Web addresses, it is because they were not supplied in the underlying report.

We hope that Internet Filters: A Public Policy Report will prove a useful resource for policymakers, parents, teachers, librarians, and all others concerned with the Internet, intellectual freedom, or the education of youth. Internet filtering is popular, despite its unreliability, because many parents, political leaders, and educators feel that the alternative—unfettered Internet access—is even worse. But to make these policy choices, it is necessary to have complete and accurate information about what filters actually do. Ultimately, less censorial approaches such as media literacy, sexuality education, and Internet acceptable-use training may be better policy choices than Internet filters in addressing concerns about young people's access to "inappropriate" content or disturbing ideas.


America Online Parental Controls

AOL offers three levels of Parental Controls: "Kids Only," for children aged 12 and under, "Young Teen," for ages 13–15, and "Mature Teen," for ages 16–17, which allows access to "all content on AOL and the Internet, except certain sites deemed for an adult (18+) audience." At one time AOL employed Cyber Patrol's block list; at another point it stated it was using SurfWatch. While as of 2001 the Parental Controls information page provided no specific information as to its filtering categories or methodology other than its use of a user-recommended database of sites, on May 2, 2001, AOL announced that Parental Controls had integrated the RuleSpace Company's "Contexion Services," which identifies "objectionable" sites "by analyzing both the words on a page and the context in which they are used."4

Access Denied, Version 2.0: The Continuing Threat Against Internet Access and Privacy and its Impact on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community, Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), 1999.
This 1999 report was a follow-up to GLAAD's 1997 report Access Denied: The Impact of Internet Filtering Software on the Lesbian and Gay Community, which described the potential defects of various filtering products without identifying particular blocked sites. Access Denied, Version 2.0 addressed AOL Parental Controls only in its introduction, where it reported that AOL's "Kids Only" setting blocked the Web site of Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere (COLAGE), as well as a number of "family, youth and national organization Web sites with lesbian and gay content," none of which were specifically named or described in the report.

Brian Livingston, "AOL's 'youth filters' protect kids from Democrats," CNet, Apr. 24, 2000.
This news report described Livingston's investigation of AOL's blocking decisions for signs of political bias. He found that the "Kids Only" setting blocked the Web sites of the Democratic National Committee (, the Green Party (, and Ross Perot's Reform Party (, but not those of the Republican National Committee ( and the conservative Constitution ( and Libertarian ( parties. Livingston also reported that AOL's "Young Teen" setting blocked the home pages of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (, Safer Guns Now (, and the Million Mom March (, but neither the NRA site ( nor the commercial sites for Colt ( and Browning ( firearms.

"AOL Parental Controls error rate for the first 1,000 .com domains," Peacefire, Oct. 23, 2000.
Peacefire Webmaster Bennett Haselton selected 1,000 dot-com domains he had compiled for a similar test of SurfWatch 2 months earlier (see p. 39), and attempted to access each site on AOL 5.0 adjusted to its "Mature Teen" setting. Five of the 1,000 working domains were blocked, including, a site on which vinegar and seasonings were sold. Haselton decided the 4 others were "pornographic" and thus accurately blocked. This produced an "error rate" of 20%, the lowest, by Peacefire's calculation, of the 5 filters it tested. AOL also "blocked far fewer pornographic sites than any of the other programs," however. Haselton stated that 5 blocked domains was an insufficient sample to gauge the efficacy of AOL Parental Controls accurately, and that the true error rate could fall anywhere between 5 and 75%.

"Digital Chaperones for Kids," Consumer Reports, Mar. 2001.
Consumer Reports published its assessments of AOL's "Young Teen" and "Mature Teen" settings in this review of various filtering technologies. Through each, Consumer Reports attempted to access 86 Web sites it deemed objectionable because they contained "sexually explicit content or violently graphic images" or promoted "drugs, tobacco, crime, or bigotry," and 53 it deemed legitimate because they "featured serious content on controversial subjects." The "Mature Teen" setting left 30% of the "objectionable" sites unblocked; the "Young Teen" filter failed to block 14%—the lowest such error rate of all products reviewed as far as underinclusive filtering was concerned. But "Young Teen" also blocked 63% of the "legitimate" sites, including,, an online guide to lesbian politics, history, arts, and culture, the Web sites of the Citizens' Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and the Southern Poverty Law Center, and SEX, Etc., a sex-education site written by and for teenagers, and hosted by Rutgers University.

Miscellaneous Reports
• In "BabelFish blocked by censorware" (Feb. 27, 2001), Peacefire reported that AOL's "Mature Teen" setting barred access to Babel-ish (, AltaVista's foreign-language translation service.


BESS, manufactured by N2H2, provides its Internet-filtering services in one of 2 ways: either as a proxy server, whereby each Web request is passed through a server located at N2H2 itself, or in the form of a dedicated server called the "Internet Filtering Manager," installed on a local computer or system. Dedicated-server administrators can enable or disable any of BESS's blocking categories, as well as BESS's keyword filtering features; users on BESS proxy servers cannot. In both scenarios, BESS provides 29 categories of blocked content under its "Typical School Filtering" setting, ranging from "Adults Only" and "Alcohol" to "Gambling," "Lingerie," "Personals," and "Tasteless/Gross." (See appendix B for a complete list.) N2H2 states that 4 of the 29 classifications—"History," "Medical," "Moderated," and "Text/Spoken Only"—are designed to distinguish between sites falling squarely into BESS's blocking categories and those that may contain sexually oriented, violent, or other question-able content but also some educational merit, such as the Starr report to Congress on President Clinton's sexual transgressions.

Under the "Maximum Filtering" setting, all 29 categories, as well as employment sites, message and bulletin boards, investment-related sites, images of individuals wearing swimsuits, and all Web searches are blocked. Configured for "Minimal Filtering," N2H2's Internet Filtering Manager blocks sites falling into the categories of "Adults Only," "Hate/ Discrimination," "Illegal," "Pornography," "Sex," and "Violence."

Karen Schneider, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, 1997.
From April to September 1997, Karen Schneider supervised a nationwide team of librarians in testing 13 filtering technologies, including BESS. The results of the Internet Filter Assessment Project, or TIFAP, were published later that year in Schneider's Practical Guide to Internet Filters.

The researchers began by seeking answers to some 100 common research queries on the Web, on both unfiltered computers and ones equipped with BESS (and the various other filters) configured for maximum blocking, including keyword blocking. Each query fell into one of 11 categories: "sex and pornography," "anatomy," "drugs, alcohol, and tobacco," "gay issues," "crimes (including pedophilia and child pornography)," "obscene or ‘racy' language," "culture and religion," "women's issues," "gambling," "hate groups and intolerance," and "politics." The queries were purposely devised to gauge filters' handling of controversial issues—for instance, "I'd like some information on safe sex"; "I want to do some research on Robert Mapplethorpe"; "I want information on the legalization of marijuana"; "I want information on PFLAG" [Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays]; "Is the Aryan Nation the same thing as Nazis?"; and "Who are the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and what does it stand for?" In some cases, the queries contained potentially provocative terms "intended to trip up keyword-blocking mechanisms" such as "How do beavers make their dams?"; "Can you find me some pictures from Babes in Toyland?"; "I need some information and a picture of the Enola Gay"; "I'm a farmer and want to research rape—the plant used to make canola oil"; and "I'm trying to find out about the Paul Newman movie The Hustler."

Schneider used Web sites, blocked and unblocked, that arose from these searches to construct her testing sample of 240 URLs. Researchers tested these URLs against a version of BESS configured for "Maximum Filtering," but with keyword filtering disabled. TIFAP found that "several" (Schnieder did not say how many) nonpornographic sites were blocked, including a page discussing X-rated videos but not containing any pornographic imagery, and an informational page on trichomaniasis, a vaginal disease. Upon notification and review, BESS later unblocked the trichomaniasis site. A Practical Guide included neither the names nor the Web addresses of the blocked sites.

Passing Porn, Banning the Bible: N2H2's Bess in Public Schools, Censorware Project, 2000.
From July 23-26, 2000, the Censorware Project tested "thousands" of URLs against 10 BESS proxy servers, 7 of which were in use in various public schools across the United States. Among the blocked Web sites were Friends of Lulu (, a site promoting comic books to girls, a page from Mother Jones magazine's site (, the Institute of Australasian Psychiatry (; the nonprofit effort Stop Prisoner Rape (, and a portion of the Columbia University Health Education Program site on which users are invited to submit "questions about relationships; sexuality; sexual health; emotional health; fitness; nutrition; alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs; and general health" ( BESS also blocked several sites opposing censorship, including the Web site of the United Kingdom-based Feminists Against Censorship (, the personal site of a librarian opposing Internet-filter use in libraries (, and Time magazine's "Netly News," which has reported, positively and negatively, on filtering software.

The report noted that BESS does not (as is implied in its published filtering criteria) review home pages hosted by such free site providers as Angelfire, Geocities, and Tripod (owing, it seems, to their sheer number). Instead, users must configure the software to block none or all of these sites; some schools opt for the latter, thus prohibiting access to such sites as The Jefferson Bible (, a com-pendium of Biblical passages selected by Thomas Jefferson, and the Web site of the Eustis Panthers (, a high-school baseball team. Though each proxy was configured to filter out pornography to the highest degree, Censorware was able to access "hundreds" of pornographic Web sites, of which 46 are listed in Passing Porn. Of the total unblocked pornographic URLs, some 285 were listed on, and of these, 28 were accessible through all 7 of the proxies in use in public schools.

"'BESS, the Internet Retriever' Examined," Peacefire, 2000.
This report consists of a list of 15 sites that Peacefire deemed inappropriately blocked by BESS during the first half of 2000. These included itself, which was blocked for "Profanity" when the word "piss" appeared on the site (within a quotation from a letter written by Brian Milburn, president of CYBERsitter's manufacturer, Solid Oak Software, to journalist Brock Meeks). Also blocked were two portions of the Web site of Princeton University's Office of Population Research, both resources on contraception methods (information on emergency contraception pills was found on; information on IUDs on; the Safer Sex page (; 5 gay-interest sites, including the home page of the Illinois Federation for Human Rights (, which "works to preserve the equal rights of lesbian and gay Illinoisians," and 2 online magazines devoted to gay topics ( and; 2 Web sites providing resources on eating disorders ( and ikstrh/ed); and 3 sites discussing breast cancer (,, and

"Mandated Mediocrity: Blocking Software Gets a Failing Grade," Peacefire & Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Oct. 2000.
"Mandated Mediocrity" describes another 23 Web sites inappropriately blocked by BESS. The URLs were tested against an N2H2 proxy as well as a trial copy of the N2H2 Internet Filtering Manager set to "Typical School Filtering." Among the blocked sites were the home page of the Traditional Values Coalition (; Hillary for President (; The Smoking Gun (, an online selection of primary documents relating to current events ("obtained from government and law enforcement sources, via Freedom of Information requests, and from court files nationwide"); a selection of travel photographs of Utah's national parks (; "What Is Memorial Day?" (, an essay lamenting the "capitalistic American" conception of the holiday as nothing more than an occasion for a 3-day weekend; the home page of "American Government and Politics," a course at St. John's University (; and the Circumcision Information and Research Pages (, a site that contained no nudity and was designated a "Select Parenting Site" by

"BESS error rate for 1,000 .com domains," Peacefire, Oct. 23, 2000.
This October 2000 test involving a sample of 1,000 active dot-com domains has already been described (see p. 6). As N2H2 evidently reviewed Peacefire's earlier SurfWatch report and prepared for a similar test of its own software by unblocking any of the 1,000 sites inappropriately filtered by BESS,6 Peacefire selected the second 1,000 dot-com domains for testing against a BESS proxy server in use at a school where Peacefire had found a student to help test BESS's performance.

The filter was configured to block sites in the categories of "Adults Only," "Alcohol," "Chat," "Drugs," "Free Pages," "Gambling," "Hate/Discrimination," "Illegal," "Lingerie," "Nudity," "Personals," "Personal Information," "Porn Site," "Profanity," "School Cheating Info," "Sex," "Suicide/Murder," "Tasteless/Gross," "Tobacco," "Violence," and "Weapons." The program's keyword-blocking features were also enabled. The BESS proxy blocked 176 of the 1,000 domains; among these, 150 were "under construction." Of the remaining 26 sites, Peacefire deemed 7 wrongly blocked:,,,,,, and

The report said the resulting "error rate" of 27% was unreliable given how small a sample was examined; the true error rate "could be as low as 15%." Peacefire's Bennett Haselton also noted that the dot-com domains tested here were "more likely to contain commercial pornography than, say, .org domains. ... [W]e should expect the error rate to be even higher for .org sites" (Haselton's emphasis), and added that the results called into question N2H2 CEO Peter Nickerson's claim, in 1998 testimony before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection, that "[a]ll sites that are blocked are reviewed by N2H2 staff before being added to the block lists."7

"Blind Ballots: Web Sites of U.S. Political Candidates Censored by Censorware," Peacefire, Nov. 7, 2000.
"Blind Ballots" was published on Election Day, 2000. Peacefire obtained a random sample of U.S. political candidates' Web sites from, a site providing information on political campaigns nationwide, and set out to see which sites BESS's (and Cyber Patrol's) "Typical School Filtering" would allow users to access. (Around the start of the 2000 school year, BESS and Cyber Patrol asserted that together they were providing filtered Internet access to more than 30,000 schools nationwide.8)

BESS's wholesale blocking of free Webpage hosting services caused the sites of one Democratic candidate, 5 Republicans, 6 Libertarians (as well as the entire Missouri Libertarian Party site), and 13 other third-party candidates to be blocked. Report coauthor Bennett Haselton commented that, as "many of our political candidates run their campaigns on a shoestring, and use free-hosting services to save money," BESS's barring of such hosts leads it to an inadvertent bias toward wealthy or established politicians' sites. Congressional incumbent Edward Markey (a Democrat from Massachusetts), also had his site ( blocked—unlike the others, it was not hosted by Geocities or Tripod, but was blocked because BESS categorized its content as "Hate, Illegal, Pornography, and/or Violence." "While blocking software com-panies often justify their errors by pointing out that they are quickly corrected," Haselton wrote, "this does not help any of the candidates listed above. . . . [C]orrections made after Election Day do not help them at all."

"Amnesty Intercepted: Global Human Rights Groups Blocked by Web Censoring Software," Peacefire, Dec. 12, 2000.
In response to complaints from students barred from the Amnesty International Web page, among others, at their school computer stations, Peacefire undertook an examination of various filters' treatment of human rights sites. Peacefire found that BESS's "Typical School Filtering" blocked the home pages of the International Coptic Congress (, which tracked human rights violations against Coptic Christians living in Egypt; and Friends of Sean Sellers (, which contained links to the works of the Multiple Personality Disorder-afflicted writer who was executed in 1999 for murders he had committed as a 16-year-old (the site opposed capital punishment). "Typical school filtering" also denied access to the official sites of recording artists Suzanne Vega ( and the Art Dogs (; both contained statements that portions of their proceeds would be donated to Amnesty International. Peacefire also reported that BESS's "Minimal Filtering" configuration blocked the Web sites of Human Rights & Tamil People (, which tracks govern-ment and police violence against Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka, and Casa Alianza (, which documents the condition of homeless children in the cities of Central America.

Miscellaneous Reports
• In its survey of "Winners of the Foil the Filter Contest" (Sept. 28, 2000), the Digital Freedom Network reported that BESS blocked House Majority Leader Richard "Dick" Armey's official Web site ( upon detecting the word "dick."
• Peacefire reported, in "BabelFish blocked by censorware" (Feb. 27, 2001), that BESS blocked the URL-translation site BabelFish (
• In "Teen Health Sites Praised in Article, Blocked by Censorware" (Mar. 23, 2001), Peacefire noted that BESS blocked portions of TeenGrowth (, a teen-oriented health education site that was recognized by the New York Times in the recent article, "Teenagers Find Health Answers with a Click."9


Rather than relying on lists of objectionable URLs, ClickSafe is designed to review each requested page in real time. According to company cofounder Richard Schwartz's outline for testimony submitted to the commission created by the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (the COPA Commission) in 2000, ClickSafe "uses state-of-the-art, content-based filtering software that combines cutting edge graphic, word and phrase-recognition technology to achieve extra-ordinarily high rates of accuracy in filtering pornographic content," and "can precisely distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate sites."

"Sites blocked by ClickSafe," Peacefire, July 2000.
Upon learning that ClickSafe blocked the home page of cyberlaw scholar Lawrence Lessig (,1157,1739,00.html), who was to testify before the COPA Commission, Peace-fire attempted to access various pages on the COPA Commission site, as well as the Web sites of organizations and companies with which the commissioners were affiliated, through a computer equipped with ClickSafe. On the COPA Commission's site, ClickSafe blocked the Frequently Asked Questions page (; the biographies of commission members Stephen Balkam (, Donna Rice Hughes (, and John Bastian (; a list of "technologies and methods within the scope" of the commis-sion's inquiry (; the commission's Scope and Timeline Proposal (; and two versions of the statute itself ( and

As for groups with representatives on the commission, Peacefire found that ClickSafe blocked several organizations' and companies' sites, at least partially: Network Solutions (; the Internet Content Rating Association (; Security Software's information page on its signature filtering product, Cyber Sentinel (; FamilyConnect (, a brand of blocking software—the page blocked was one on which users could submit URLs to be reviewed as potential blocks or unblocks; the National Law Center for Children and Families (; the Christian site; and the Center for Democracy and Technology ( In addition to the CDT, ClickSafe blocked the home pages of the ACLU (, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (, and the American Family Association (, as well as part of the official site of Donna Rice Hughes's book, Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace (

Cyber Patrol

Cyber Patrol, currently owned by Surf-Control, operates with 12 default blocking categories, including "Partial Nudity," "Intoler-ance," "Drugs/Drug Culture," and "Sex Education." (See appendix B.) According to the manufacturer's Web site, "Cyber Patrol employs a team of professional researchers at least 21 years of age including parents and teachers" to determine whether sites are to be blocked. Any page that "contains more than 3 instances in 100 messages or any easily accessible pages with graphics, text or audio that fall within the definition" of any of the 12 categories "will be considered sufficient to place the source in that category." As with most filtering products, Cyber Patrol's list of prohibited sites is not made public, but SurfControl offers the CyberNOT search engine, a feature on its Web site through which users can enter URLs and receive immediate responses as to whether or not those pages are on the filter's block list. SurfControl adds, "Internet sites that contain information or software programs designed to hack into filtering software, including Cyber Patrol, are added to the CyberNOT list in ALL categories as a measure of protection for the parents, educators and businesses that rely on Cyber Patrol to screen Internet content."

Brock Meeks and Declan McCullagh, "Jacking in from the ‘Keys to the Kingdom' Port," CyberWire Dispatch, July 3, 1996.
The first evaluation of Cyber Patrol appeared in this early report on the problems of Internet filtering by journalists Brock Meeks and Declan McCullagh. Meeks and McCullagh viewed a decrypted version of Cyber Patrol's block list (along with those of CYBERsitter and Net Nanny), and noticed that Cyber Patrol stored the Web addresses it blocked only partially, cutting off all but the first 3 characters at the end of a URL. For instance, the software was meant to block, a Carnegie Mellon student home page containing information on the occult; yet on its block list Cyber Patrol recorded only ~sha, thereby blocking every site beginning with that URL segment and leaving, at the time of the report's publication, 23 unrelated sites on the CMU server blocked.

The authors also found that with all default categories enabled, Cyber Patrol barred multiple sites concerning cyberliberties—the Electronic Frontier Foundation's censorship archive, for example, and the home page of MIT's League for Programming Freedom. Also blocked were the Queer Resources Directory, which counts among its resources information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the AIDS Book Review Journal, and AIDS Treatment News. Cyber Patrol also blocked a number of newsgroups dealing with homosexuality and gender issues, such as,, alt.feminism, and soc.feminism, as well as

Karen Schneider, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, 1997.
The Internet Filter Assessment Project tested Cyber Patrol configured to block only "Full Nudity" and "Sexual Acts." Schneider reported that the software "blocked ‘good sites' 5-10% of the time, depending on the tester, and pornographic sites slipped through about 10% of the time." One of the "good sites" was, described by Schneider as a site "devoted to debunking propaganda."

"Cyber Patrol: The Friendly Censor," Censorware Project, Nov. 22, 1997.
Censorware Project member Jonathan Wallace tested his personal collection of approximately 270 Web sites on ethics, politics, and law—all "containing controversial speech but no obscenity or illegal material"—against the CyberNOT search engine after learning that the Web pages of Sex, Laws, and Cyberspace, the 1996 book he co-authored with Mark Mangan, were blocked by Cyber Patrol. Wallace found 12 of his chosen sites were barred, including Deja News (, a searchable archive of USENET materials,10 and the Web page of the Society for the Promotion of Unconditional Relationships ( town/estate/xgv92/spur2.htm), an organization advocating monogamy whose site includes such articles as "The Role of Faith in Relationships."

Wallace reported that Cyber Patrol also blocked several sites featuring politically loaded content, such as the Flag Burning Page (formerly; now, which examines the issue of flag burning from a constitutional perspective; Interactivism (, a site inviting users to engage in political activism by corresponding with politicians on issues such as campaign-finance reform and Tibetan independence; Newtwatch (no longer active; formerly, a Democratic Party-funded page that consisted of reports and satires on the former Speaker of the House; Dr. Bonzo, another now-inactive page ( .htm), which featured "satirical essays on religious matters"11; and the Web site of the Second Amendment Foundation (—though, as Wallace noted, Cyber Patrol did not block other gun-related sites, such as that of the National Rifle Association.

"Gay sites netted in Cyber Patrol sting," press release, GLAAD, Dec. 19, 1997.
Cyber Patrol's evident bias against homosexuals was reported by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) in a Dec. 1997 press release stating that Cyber Patrol was blocking the entire "WestHollywood" subdirectory of Geocities. WestHollywood, at that time, was home to more than 20,000 gay- and lesbian-interest sites, such as that of the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum's Young Adult Program. When contacted, Cyber Patrol's then-manufacturer Microsystems Software cited, by way of explanation, the high potential for WestHollywood sites to contain nudity or pornographic imagery. GLAAD's press release pointed out, however, that Geocities expressly prohibited "nudity and pornographic material of any kind" on its server.

Microsystems CEO Dick Gorgens re-sponded to further inquiry with the admission that GLAAD was "absolutely correct in [its] assessment that the subdirectory block on WestHollywood is prejudicial to the Gay and Lesbian Geocities community. . . . Over the next week the problem will be corrected." Yet according to the press release, after a week had passed, the block on WestHollywood remained.

Blacklisted by Cyber Patrol: From Ada to Yoyo, Censorware Project, Dec. 22, 1997.
This report documented a number of sites that the Censorware Project considered wrongly blocked in the "Full Nudity" and "Sexual Acts" categories. Among them were Creature's Comfort Pet Service (; Air Penny (, a Nike site devoted to basketball player Penny Hardaway; the MIT Project on Mathematics and Computation ( .edu); AAA Whole-sale Nutrition (; the site of the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry (; the online edition of Explore Underwater magazine (; the computer science department of England's Queen Mary and Westfield College (; and the Web site of the United States Army Corps of Engineers Construction Engineering Research Laboratories ( .mil). The report took its title from 2 additional sites blocked for "Full Nudity" and "Sexual Acts": "We, the People of Ada" (, an Ada, Michigan, committee devoted to "bring[ing] about a change for a more honest, fiscally responsible and knowledgeable township government," and Yoyo (, a server of Melbourne's Monash University.

Blacklisted also catalogued 4 nonpornographic sites "oriented toward alternative sexuality" that were blocked for "Full Nudity" and "Sexual Acts": Gay Daze (, "a sort of online soap opera" centered around 6 homosexual characters; Gay Mart, an online catalog merchant selling such items as gay-themed baseball caps and cookie jars; the home page of a West Hollywood coffee dealer called Stonewall, Inc. (; and, as was reported 3 days earlier by GLAAD, the WestHollywood subdirectory of Geocities. In addition, Blacklisted reported that every site hosted by the free Web page provider Tripod ( was barred, not only for nudity or sexually explicit content, but also for "Violence/Profanity," "Gross Depictions," "Intolerance," "Satanic/Cult," "Drugs/Drug Culture," "Militant/Extreme," "Questionable/ Illegal & Gambling," and "Alcohol & Tobacco." Tripod was home, at the time of the report, to 1.4 million distinct pages, but smaller servers and service providers were also blocked in their entirety—Blacklisted lists 40 of them. Another section of the report lists hundreds of blocked newsgroups, including alt.atheism, alt.adoption, alt.censorship, alt.journalism, (for bridge enthusiasts), and support.soc.depression.misc (on depression and mood disorders).

The day after Blacklisted was published, Microsystems Software unblocked 55 of the 67 URLs and domains the report had cited. Yet 8 of the remaining 12, according to the Censorware Project, were still wrongly blocked: Nike's Penny Hardaway site, the National Academy of Biochemistry sites, 4 Internet s ervice providers (,,, and, Tripod, and a site-in-progress for a software company ( This last site, at the time of Censorware's Dec. 25, 1997, update to Blacklisted, contained very little content, but did contain the words "HOT WEB LINKS"—which was "apparently enough for Cyber Patrol to continue to block it as pornography through a second review." Of the 4 other sites left blocked, 2, Censorware acknowledged, fell within the Microsystems Software's blocking criteria and "shouldn't have been listed as wrongful blocks originally."

Christopher Hunter, "Filtering the Future?: Software Filters, Porn, PICS, and the Internet Content Conundrum," July 1999.
In June 1999, Christopher Hunter of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication tested 200 URLs against 4 widely used Internet filters, including Cyber Patrol. Contending that existing reports on blocked sites applied "largely unscientific methods" (that is, they did not attempt to assess overall percentages of "wrongly" blocked sites), Hunter tested Cyber Patrol, CYBERsitter, Net Nanny, and SurfWatch by "social science methods of randomization and content analysis."

Hunter intended half of his testing sample to approximate an average Internet user's surfing habits. Thus, the first 100 sites consisted of 50 "randomly generated" by Webcrawler's random links feature and 50 others Hunter compiled through Altavista searches for the 5 most frequently requested search terms as of April 1999: "yahoo," "warez" (commercial software products made obtainable for illegal download), "hotmail," "sex," and "MP3"12. Hunter gathered the first 10 matches from each of these 5 searches.

For the other 100 sites, Hunter focused on material often identified as bases of controversial blocks. He therefore added to his testing sample the Web sites of the 36 plaintiff organizations in ACLU v. Reno and ACLU v. Reno II, the American Civil Liberties Union's challenges to the 1997 Communications Decency Act and the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, respectively. Hunter then conducted Yahoo searches for sites pertaining to Internet portals, political issues, feminism, hate speech, gambling, religion, gay pride and homosexuality, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, pornography, news, violent computer games, safe sex, and abortion. From each of the first 12 of these 13 searches, Hunter chose 5 of the resulting matches for his sample, and then selected 4 abortion-related sites (2 pro- and 2 anti-) in order to arrive at a total of 100 URLs.

Hunter evaluated the first page of each site using the Internet rating system devised by the Recreational Software Advisory Council (called RSACi). Under RSACi's 4 categories (violence, nudity, sex, and language) and 5 grades within each category, a site with a rating of zero in the "sex" category, for example, would contain no sexual content or else only "innocent kissing; romance," while a site with a "sex" rating of 4 might contain "explicit sexual acts or sex crimes." Using these categories, Hunter made his own judgments as to whether a filtering product erroneously blocked or failed to block a site, characterizing a site whose highest RSACi rating he thought would be zero or one as nonobjectionable, while determining that any site with a rating of 2, 3, or 4 in at least one RSACi category should have been blocked.

Hunter concluded that Cyber Patrol blocked 20, or 55.6%, of the sites containing material he deemed objectionable according to RSACi standards, and 15, or 9.1%, of sites he deemed innocuous. Among these 15 sites were the feminist literary site RiotGrrl (; the home page of Stop Prisoner Rape (; the Qworld contents page (, a collection of links to online gay-interest resources; an article on "Promoting with Pride" on the Queer Living page (; the Web site of the Coalition for Positive Sexuality, or CPS (, which promotes "complete and honest sex education"; SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (; and Gay Wired Presents Wildcat Press (, a page devoted to an award-winning independent press. Five of the other sites Hunter deemed over-blocked, however, were alcohol- and tobacco-related promotional sites, and thus did fall within Cyber Patrol's filtering criteria. On the other hand, similar alcohol and tobacco sites were left unblocked.

In Feb. 2000, filtering advocate David Burt responded to Hunter's study with a press release citing potential sources of error.13 Burt argued that "200 sites is far too small to adequately represent the breadth of the entire world wide web" and charged that all but the 50 randomly generated URLs constituted a skewed sample, containing content "instantly recognizable as likely to trigger filters" and "not represented in the sample proportionately to the entire Internet," thus giving rise to "much higher-than-normal error rates." A more serious problem, however, is that in attempting to arrive at "scientific" estimates of percentages of wrongly blocked sites, Hunter relied on his own subjective judgments of appropriateness.

Youth Access to Alcohol and Tobacco Web Marketing: The Filtering and Rating Debate, Center for Media Education, Oct. 1999.
In April 1999, Center for Media Education researchers tested Cyber Patrol (along with 5 other filters) for under-inclusive blocking of alcohol and tobacco marketing materials. They first selected the official sites of 10 beer manufacturers (such as and 10 liquor companies (such as that are currently popular and "[have] elements that appeal to youth." They added 10 other sites pertaining to alcohol—discussing drinking games or containing cocktail-making instructions, for example—and 14 sites promoting smoking. (As major U.S. cigarette brands are not advertised online, CME chose the home pages of such magazines as Cigar Aficionado [] and Smoke Magazine [].) Cyber Patrol blocked only 43% of the promotional sites.

The CME also conducted Web searches on three popular search engines—Yahoo, Go/InfoSeek, and Excite—for the alcohol- and tobacco-related terms "beer," "Budweiser lizards," "cigarettes," "cigars," "drinking games," "home brewing," "Joe Camel," "liquor," and "mixed drinks." It then attempted to access the first 5 sites returned in each search. Cyber Patrol blocked 30% of the result pages, allowing, for example,,, and, which, according to the report, "not only promoted the use of alcohol and tobacco, but also sold products and accessories related to their consumption."

To test blocking of educational and public-health information on alcohol and tobacco, the CME added to its sample 10 sites relating to alcohol consumption—www., for instance, and the Mothers Against Drunk Driving ( and National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome ( sites—and 10 anti-smoking sites, including,, and the site of the American Cancer Society ( Cyber Patrol did not block any of the sites in this group. Nor did it block most sites returned by the 3 search engines when terms like "alcohol," "alcoholism," "fetal alcohol syndrome," "lung cancer," or "substance abuse" were entered. Cyber Patrol allowed access to an average of 4.8 of the top 5 search results in each case; CME deemed an average of 4.1 of these contained important educational information.

Eddy Jansson and Matthew Skala, The Breaking of Cyber Patrol ® 4, Mar. 11, 2000.
Jansson and Skala decrypted Cyber Patrol's block list and found questionable blocking of Peacefire's site, for example, as well as a number of anonymizer and foreign-language Web translation services on the grounds that they fell under all of Cyber Patrol's default filtering categories. Blocked under every category but "Sex Education" was the Church of the SubGenius site, which parodies the Christian church and corporate and consumer culture, and 2 sites with information pertaining to pirated software.

Also on the block list, for "Intolerance," were a personal home page on which the word "voodoo" appeared—in a mention of—and the Web archives of Declan McCullagh's Justice on Campus Project (, which worked "to preserve free expression and due process at universities." Blocked in the "Satanic/Cults" category were (a site of multimedia Net-art projects) and Mega's Metal Asylum, a page devoted to heavy metal; the latter site was also branded "Militant/Extremist." Also blocked as "Militant/Extremist," as well as "Violence/Profanity" and "Questionable/Illegal & Gambling," were a portion of the Nuclear Control Institute site; a personal page dedicated, in part, to raising awareness of neo-Nazi activity; multiple editorials opposing nuclear arms from Washington State's Tri-City Herald; part of the City of Hiroshima site; the former Web site of the American Airpower Heritage Museum in Midland, Texas; an Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy student's personal home page, which at the time of Jansson and Skala's report consisted only of the student's résumé; and the Web site of a sheet-music publisher. The "Marston Family Home Page," a personal site, was also blocked under the "Militant/Extremist" and "Questionable/Illegal & Gambling" categories—presumably, according to the report, because one of the children wrote, "[T]his new law the Communications Decency Act totally defys [sic] all that the Constitution was. Fight the system, take the power back. . . ."

"Cyber Patrol error rate for first 1,000 .com domains," Peacefire, Oct. 23, 2000.
Peacefire tested Cyber Patrol's average rate of error, using the same 1,000 dot-com domains as a test sample that it used for an identical investigation of SurfWatch. In accordance with its Oct. 21, 2000, block list, Cyber Patrol blocked 121 Web sites for portrayals of "Partial Nudity," "Full Nudity," or "Sexual Acts." Of the 121 sites blocked, Peacefire eliminated 100 that were "under construction," and assessed the remaining 21. It considered 17 wrongly blocked, including, (a locksmith's site),,, and Peacefire deemed 4 sites appropriately blocked under Cyber Patrol's definition of sexually explicit content, for an error rate of 81%. Peacefire's Haselton wrote that Cyber Patrol's actual error rate was anywhere between 65 and 95%, but was unlikely to be "less than 60% across all domains," and as with BESS, that the results may have been skewed in Cyber Patrol's favor owing to the test's focus on dot-com domains, which "are more likely to contain commercial pornography than, say, .org domains."

"Blind Ballots: Web Sites of U.S. Political Candidates Censored by Censorware," Peacefire, Nov. 7, 2000.
In its Election Day report, Peacefire revealed that Cyber Patrol, configured to block "Partial Nudity," "Full Nudity," and "Sexual Acts," blocked the Web sites of 4 Republican candidates, 4 Democrats, and one Libertarian. The Web site of one additional Democratic candidate, Lloyd Doggett (, was blocked under Cyber Patrol's "Questionable/Illegal/Gambling" category. The day after Peacefire published these findings, ZDNet News reporter Lisa Bowman contacted Cyber Patrol's current manufacturer, SurfControl. A company spokesperson directed Bowman to the CyberNOT search engine, which indicated that none of the URLs were actually prohi-bited. But later the same day, after down-loading Cyber Patrol's most recent block list, Bowman attempted to access each site, and found that the software did indeed bar her from the candidate sites in question. Hasel-ton noted that Bowman's test suggested the unreliability of the CyberNOT engine.14

"Amnesty Intercepted: Global Human Rights Groups Blocked by Web Censoring Software," Peacefire, Dec. 12, 2000.
"Amnesty Intercepted" reported the following organizations' sites blocked by Cyber Patrol on account of "sexually explicit" content: Amnesty International Israel (; the Canadian Labour Congress (; the American Kurdish Information Network (, which tracks human rights violations against Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey; the Mumia Solidaritäts Index (, which is devoted to protesting the death sentence against Mumia Abu Jamal; the Milarepa Fund (, a Tibetan-interest group; Peace Magazine (; the Bonn International Center for Conversion (, which promotes the transfer of human, industrial, and economic resources away from the defense sector; the Canada Asia Pacific Resource Network (, whose stated "mission is to promote regional solidarity among trade unions and NGOs in the Asia Pacific" region; the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (, an organization opposing violations of the human rights of women worldwide; the Metro Network for Social Justice (; the Society for Peace, Unity, and Human Rights for Sri Lanka (; and the International Coptic Congress (

"Digital Chaperones for Kids," Consumer Reports, Mar. 2001.
Consumer Reports found that Cyber Patrol failed to block 23% of the magazine's chosen 86 "easily located web sites that contain sexually explicit content or violently graphic images, or that promote drugs, tobacco, crime, or bigotry." Yet it did, Consumer Reports noted, block the home page of Operation Rescue (which the authors of the article classified as objectionable on account of its graphic images of aborted fetuses). The filter also blocked such nonobjectionable sites as Peacefire ( and

Kieren McCarthy, "Cyber Patrol bans The Register," The Register, Mar. 5, 2001; Drew Cullen, "Cyber Patrol unblocks The Register," The Register, Mar. 9, 2001.
Days after the Consumer Reports article appeared, the British newspaper The Register received word that its online edition was blocked by Cyber Patrol. The publication was notified by an employee of Citrix Systems, an application server software provider, that he had been unable to access the Register site from his office computer, on which the company had installed Cyber Patrol. SurfControl unblocked the site within days, with the exception of a page containing the Dec. 12, 2000, article that was the basis of the initial block: a piece by Register staff reporter John Leyden on Peacefire's recently introduced filter-disabling program. A SurfControl representative explained, "The Register published an article written by Peacefire containing information on how to access inappropriate sites specifically blocked by Cyber Patrol. Given [the] irresponsible nature of the article, apparently encouraging users to over-ride Cyber Patrol's filtering mechanism, we took the decision to block The Register—upholding our first obligation to customers by preventing children or pupils from being able to surf websites containing sexually explicit, racist or inflammatory material." Cullen responded that there was no "sexually explicit, racist," or "inflammatory" material in the article, which "merely describes peacefire.exe and provides a link to the Web site. . . . To say The Register in any way enables the children of SurfControl customers to access a cracking utility is, quite simply, false."15

Miscellaneous reports
• In "How well does Internet filtering software protect students?" (Jan. 1998), Electronic School columnist Lars Kongshem wrote that Cyber Patrol denied users access to a page on tobacco use prevention that appeared on a site maintained by Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
• In his expert witness report for the defendants in Mainstream Loudoun, et al. v. Board of Trustees of the Loudoun County Library (July 14, 1998), David Burt reported that his comparative testing of Cyber Patrol, I-Gear, SurfWatch, and X-Stop had revealed that Cyber Patrol blocked 40% of sites Burt had selected as nonobscene, including the sex-information sites Di Que Si (, All About Sex (, New Male Sexuality (, and Internet Sex Radio (
• In the New York Times article "Library Grapples with Internet Freedom" (Oct. 15, 1998), Katie Hafner reported that Cyber Patrol blocked Web searches for Georgia O'Keeffe and Vincent van Gogh, while hits from searches for "toys" included sites selling sex toys.
• In Feb. 2000, filteReality, a Web site maintained by former librarian Brian Smith, found that Cyber Patrol blocked Internet Trash (, a free Web-page hosting service; the site of the Adult Children of Heterosexuals (; and the home page of a plastic surgeon ( that contained some "images showing examples of the doctor's genital enhancement work." Smith noted that "Cyber Patrol's description of its criteria explicitly states that ‘non-prurient' images of nudity are not supposed to be blocked."
• Peacefire reported, in "BabelFish blocked by censorware" (Feb. 27, 2001), that Cyber Patrol blocked the foreign-language Web-page-translation service, featured on AltaVista (, in all 12 filtering categories, from "Violence/Profanity" to "Alcohol & Tobacco."
• In the article "Teen Health Sites Praised in Article, Blocked by Censorware" (Mar. 23, 2001), Peacefire reported that Cyber Patrol blocked ZapHealth (, a health-education site that, according to Bonnie Rothman Morris's New York Times article published 3 days earlier, contains "[a]rticles about issues of pressing interest to a teenage audience."

Cyber Sentinel

Rather than maintaining and updating a list of sites to be blocked, or designating forbidden categories, Cyber Sentinel scans each requested + for certain keywords and phrases in its various databases, or "libraries." Its "child predator library," for instance, contains such phrases and "do you have a pic" and "can I call you." Promotional text on Cyber Sentinel's Web site ( claims it is "the most advanced Internet filtering software package available today."

Youth Access to Alcohol and Tobacco Web Marketing: The Filtering and Rating Debate, Center for Media Education, Oct. 1999.
The CME's June 1999 study found Cyber Sentinel ineffective in screening out material promoting alcohol and tobacco use. It blocked only 11% of the promotional sites selected by the CME, allowing users to access an average of 39 of the 44 pages, and blocked just 3% of the pages resulting from the researchers' searches for alcohol- and tobacco-related promotional material.

"Sites blocked by Cyber Sentinel," Peacefire, Aug. 2, 2000.
Having conducted "about an hour of ad-hoc experimentation," Peacefire found that Cyber Sentinel blocked CNN (, because, as system log files revealed, the word "erotic" appeared on the front page—in the title of an article, "Naples museum exposes public to ancient erotica"); a result page for a search of the word "censorship" on Wired magazine's site, for one of the results contained the word "porn" in the title ("Feds Try Odd Anti-Porn Approach"); result pages for searches of the term "COPA" on the Wired and other news sites, also on account of article titles containing the word "porn" (for instance, "Appeals court rules against Net porn law"); and a portion of the Web site of the Ontario Center for Religious Tolerance (, containing an essay on collisions between science and religion throughout history.

Cyber Sentinel also blocked sites associated with both sides of the civil liberties and Internet censorship debates: an ACLU press release, "Calls for Arrest of Openly Gay GOP Convention Speaker Reveal Danger of Sodomy Laws Nationwide" (, because of the term "anal sex"; the home page of the American Family Association (, because of the word "porn" ("The current administration and the Justice Department have been good to the porn industry"); on account of the word "cum," the biographies of COPA Commission members Stephen Balkam ( and Donna Rice Hughes (—for both graduated magna cum laude; the COPA Commission's list of research papers (, because the word "porn" appeared in the title of filtering advocate David Burt's report, "Dangerous Access, 2000 Edition: Uncovering Internet Porn in America's Libraries"; and the home page for Donna Rice Hughes's book, Kids Online: Protecting Your Children in Cyberspace (, an appendix of which is titled "Porn on the Net."


Before 1999, CYBERsitter, in addition to blocking entire sites and searches for terms on its block list, would excise terms it deemed objectionable or leave blank spaces where they would otherwise appear. This procedure led to some early notoriety for the product, such as the instance in which it deleted the word "homosexual" from the sentence, "The Catholic Church opposes homosexual marriage"—and left Web users reading "The Catholic Church opposes marriage."

In 1999, CYBERsitter modified its system and established 7 default settings, including "PICS Rating adult topics," which "[c]overs all topics not suitable for children under the age of 13," "sites promoting the gay and lesbian life style," and "[s]ites advocating illegal/ radical activities." Its total list of blocking categories grew to 22 (see appendix B). Users could, as they can with the most recent versions of the software, enable or disable any specific category.16

Brock N. Meeks and Declan McCullagh, "Jacking in from the ‘Keys to the Kingdom' Port," CyberWire Dispatch, July 3, 1996.
Meeks and McCullagh reported that CYBERsitter blocked a newsgroup devoted to gay issues (alt.politics.homosexual), the Queer Resources Directory (, and the home page of the National Organization for Women ( CYBERsitter's list of prohibited word combinations included "[gay, queer,bisexual] [male,men,boy,group,rights, community,activities…]" and "[gay,queer, homosexual,lesbian,bisexual] [society, culture]." According to the report, Brian Milburn, president of CYBERsitter's manufacturer, Solid Oak Software, responded, "We have not and will not bow to pressure from any organization that disagrees with our philosophy…. We don't simply block pornography. That's not the intention of our product. The majority of our customers are strong family-oriented people with traditional family values…. I wouldn't even care to debate the issues if gay and lesbian issues are suitable for teenagers.… We filter anything that has to do with sex. Sexual orientation [is about sex] by virtue of the fact that it has sex in the name."

"CYBERsitter: Where do we not want you to go today?" Peacefire, Nov. 5–Dec. 11, 1996.
Peacefire's Bennett Haselton reported that among CYBERsitter's blocked domains were, in addition to itself, the "online communities" Echo Communications ( and the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link (; the Web site of Community ConneXion (, which manufactured an anonymous-surfing program; the ISP; and the home page of the National Organization for Women ( CYBERsitter also barred any user from conducting a Yahoo search for the term "gay rights."

"Cybersitter Blocks The Ethical Spectacle," Ethical Spectacle, press release, Jan. 19, 1997.
In early 1997, CYBERsitter blocked the Ethical Spectacle, an online magazine "examining the intersection of ethics, law and politics in our society," after editor Jonathan Wallace added a link to the site titled "Don't Buy Cybersitter," which directed users to Peacefire's report "CYBERsitter: Where do we not want you to go today?" Wallace wrote to Milburn and Solid Oak technical support "demanding an explanation. I pointed out that The Spectacle does not fit any of their published criteria for blocking a site. I received mail in return demanding that I cease writing to them and calling my mail ‘harassment'—with a copy to the postmaster at my ISP."

Karen G. Schneider, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, 1997.
Schneider's Internet Filter Assessment Project reported that unlike other filtering products, CYBERsitter does not permit its keyword-blocking feature to be disabled. Regarding CYBERsitter's claim that it "looks at how the word or phrase is used in context," Schneider quoted one TIFAP tester: "[N]othing could be further from the truth." Tthe filter deleted the word "queer," for example, from Robert Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" ("My little horse must think it queer / To stop without a farmhouse near"). CYBERsitter did not block sites containing instructions for the growing of marijuana but did block a news item on the legislation surrounding it.

Marie José Klaver, What does Cybersitter block? June 23, 1998.
In June 1998, Marie-José Klaver decrypted and published CYBERsitter's full list of blocked words, strings, sites, and domains. Among the domains on the block list were servers of the University of Chicago (, the University of Virginia's Information Technology and Communication division (, Georgia State University (, the University of Michigan's engineering department (, and Rutgers University (; several large Dutch domains, including,, and; and the phrases "bennetthaselton," "peacefire," and "dontbuycybersitter."

Christopher Hunter, "Filtering the Future," July 1999.
Though Christopher Hunter's study (see p. 16) concluded that CYBERsitter was the most reliable filter in his test in terms of screening out "objectionable" sites (it blocked 25, or 69.4%, of such sites in his sample), he also noted that the software performed well below the 90–95% rate of accuracy boasted by the manufacturer. CYBERsitter fared worst in its treatment of "nonobjectionable" material, blocking 24, or 14.6%, of the sites to which Hunter assigned RSACi ratings no higher than one. Among these were Sharktagger (, a site promoting responsible shark fishing and conservation through the practice of tagging; a listing of local events posted on Yahoo (; RiotGrrl (; Planned Parenthood (; Stop Prisoner Rape (; the National Organization for Women (; the feminist performance-art and activist troupe Guerrilla Girls (; the Church of Scientology (; The Body (, an informational site on AIDS and HIV; Williams College's information page on safe sex (; the Coalition for Positive Sexuality (CPS) (, SIECUS (, and Pro-Life America (

CYBERsitter proved particularly likely to deny access to nonpornographic sites relating to homosexuality, blocking the QWorld contents page (; the gay Internet communities Planet Out (, PrideNet (, and the Queer Zone (; A Different Light Bookstore (, which specializes in gay and lesbian literature; Gay Wired Presents Wildcat Press (; and Queer Living's "Promoting with Pride" page ( (These sites, while not falling under RSAC's definition of unacceptability, do fall within CYBERsitter's default filtering category of "sites promoting the gay and lesbian life style.")

Youth Access to Alcohol and Tobacco Web Marketing, Center for Media Education, Oct. 1999.
CME charged CYBERsitter with under- and overinclusive filtering of alcohol- and tobacco-related material, as it blocked only 19% of the promotional sites in CME's sample—leaving unblocked beer sites such as, and sites on which tobacco products were sold, such as lylessmokeshop .com. While performing better than most other filters in its response to searches for promotional content—CYBERsitter prohibited searches for "beer," "cigarettes," "cigars," and "liquor"—it subsequently blocked just 3% of the result pages (from the allowed searches) that the CME testers attempted to view. CYBERsitter also blocked 13% of the CME's chosen educational and public-health sites, including,, and, and prohibited testers from conducting searches for "alcohol," "alcoholism," "fetal alcohol syndrome," "tobacco," and "tobacco settlement."

"CYBERsitter Examined," Peacefire, 2000.
Peacefire reported that CYBERsitter blocked a number of nonprofit sites, including itself; the Penal Lexicon (, an British online project documenting prison conditions worldwide, and the home page of the Human Awareness Institute (, an organization that "[a]ims to create a world where people live in dignity, respect, understanding, truth, kindness, honesty, compassion and love." CYBERsitter also denied access to various educational servers, including those of the Department of Astronomy at Smith College (, the Computer Animation Laboratory at the California Institute of the Arts (, the University of Oregon (, and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University (

CYBERsitter blocked the Village Voice Web site (; Calweb, an Internet service provider (; Internex Online (, another ISP, which hosts the Web site of the National Organization of People Attacking Sales of Tobacco to Youth (; and Pathfinder (, which at one time published a search engine on which users could check URLs against CYBERsitter's block list.

"Amnesty Intercepted," Peacefire, Dec. 12, 2000.
CYBERsitter blocked a number of pages on the Amnesty International site because of its keyword-filtering mechanism. A news item, for instance (, containing the sentence, "Reports of shootings in Irian Jaya bring to at least 21 the number of people in Indonesia and East Timor killed or wounded," was prohibited for its "sexually explicit" content. Peacefire's review of the system log revealed that CYBERsitter had blocked the site after detecting the words "least 21." The filter blocked another human rights page, which noted that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child "defines all individuals below the age of 18 years as children," for the words "age of 18."

"Digital Chaperones for Kids," Consumer Reports, Mar. 2001.
While failing to block 22% of sites that Consumer Reports deemed objectionable because of "sexually explicit content or violently graphic images" or promotion of "drugs, tobacco, crime, or bigotry," CYBERsitter blocked "nearly one in five" of the sites the authors considered inoffensive, including, the Citizens' Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Miscellaneous reports
• In a review of "Filtering Utilities" (Apr. 8, 1997), PC Magazine noted that CYBERsitter blocked an engineering site with "BourbonStreet" in its URL.
• According to the Digital Freedom Network's article on "Winners of the Foil the Filter Contest" (Sept. 28, 2000), CYBERsitter blocked House Majority Leader Richard "Dick" Armey's official Web site ( upon detecting the word "dick," and Focus on the Family's Pure Intimacy page (, which protests pornogaphy and is geared toward individuals "struggling with sexual temptations."
• In "Teen Health Sites Praised in Article, Blocked by Censorware" (Mar. 23, 2001), Peacefire reported that CYBERsitter barred part or all of three out of the four sites discussed in a recent New York Times article on helpful online health-education resources for teenagers: ZapHealth (; various pages on, including its anti-smoking page (, a page comprising advice on travel safety (, and a profile of KidsHealth staff member Pamela Arn—presumably because CYBERsitter detected its blacklisted phrase "pamela.html" in the URL and confused the site with one devoted to Pamela Anderson; and part of iEmily (, including the Terms of Service page, on which the words "sexually oriented" appeared—for one of the terms of service is that users "will not use [iEmily's] message boards or chat rooms to post any material which is . . . sexually oriented."
• In a Censorware Project post "Columnist Opines Against Censorware, Gets Column Blocked" (Mar. 29, 2001), Bennett Haselton reported that CYBERsitter blocked "Web Filters Backfire on their Fans," a Chicago Tribune article that criticized filtering software as well as the Children's Internet Protection Act, apparently because the software detected the words "porno," "Internet porn," and "Peacefire."


FamilyClick (whose spokesperson is Donna Rice Hughes) allows users to choose from a variety of filtering configurations. Its least restrictive "Full FamilyClick access" setting, "recommended for ages 18+," blocks sites falling into any of 7 categories, including "Crime," "Gambling," and "Chat." Its "Teen access" setting, for ages 15–17, blocks the previous 7 categories as well as "Personals," "Illegal Drug Promotion," "Chat/Message Boards," and "Non-FamilyClick Email Services." "Pre-Teen access," for ages 12–14, bars 4 additional categories; these include "Advanced Sex Education" and "Weapons." "Kids access," geared toward ages 8–11, blocks "Basic Sex Education,"s defined as "[s]ites providing information at the elementary level about puberty and reproduction." Finally, the "Children's Playroom," for ages 7 and under, "is 100% safe. It contains activities, games and content that have been pre-selected and pre-approved by FamilyClick." (See appendix B.)

"Sites blocked by FamilyClick," Peacefire, Aug. 1, 2000.
Bennett Haselton conducted "about an hour's worth of ad-hoc testing" of FamilyClick on its least restrictive "18+" setting and found the following sites blocked: a report from the U.S. embassy in Beijing on the state of the AIDS epidemic in China (; a research study on "Gambling and Problem Gambling in Washington State" (, sponsored by the Washington State Council on Problem Gambling; a Spanish-language glossary of AIDS terms (; the home page of Camp Sussex (, which organizes summer-camp programs for children of low-income households; Psyart, an online journal published by the University of Florida's Institute for the Psychological Study of the Arts (; an essay titled "Triangles and Tribulations: The Politics of Nazi Symbols" (, on a Holocaust-studies site; a Christian Research Journal article condemning homosexuality (; the genealogical page for one Alice Ficken (—perhaps, Haselton observed, because "Ficken" is the infinitive form of "fuck" in German; an inventory of state sodomy laws on the Web site of the ACLU (; a genealogical index of individuals bearing the name "Mumma" (; a background report on pornography by the Minnesota Family Council (; a portion of the Ontario Center for Religious Tolerance site, tracking anti-Wiccan content on Christian Web sites (; an essay on the Federation of American Scientists site called "Countering Terrorism" (, regarding the terrorist slaying of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics; and a guide to "Eating Right" for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patients (

"Online Oddities and Atrocities Museum," Online Policy Group, n.d.
The Online Policy Group maintains, as part of its "Online Oddities and Atrocities Museum," a list of sites at different times mistakenly blocked by FamilyClick. These include the home page of the Christian Coalition (which is headed by FamilyClick founder Tim Robertson's father, Pat Robertson), the Web site of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was blocked, in the midst of a product demonstration by Donna Rice Hughes during her appearance on that program, and the FamilyClick site itself.


I-Gear, manufactured by Symantec, operates by a combination of a set of predefined URL databases and a "Dynamic Document Review." The site databases are divided into 22 categories (see appendix B). Dynamic Document Review further reviews the content of a requested page: If the URL is not in any of the databases, I-Gear scans the page for trigger words from the corresponding "DDR Dictionaries." Each matching word on the site receives a numerical score; if the total score for the page exceeds 50 (which is the default maximum score; it can be adjusted to anywhere between one and 200), the site is blocked. According to the product literature, "In addition to unconditionally vulgar words, I-Gear looks for words that are conditionally appropriate. I-Gear reviews each word on a page and examines the surrounding words to determine the context" of such terms. The example given in I-Gear's manual is the word "sexual": While the string "hot sexual pictures" may be included in the "Sex/Acts" dictionary and thus earn a page a few points, the string "sexual harassment" will not.

Karen Schneider, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, 1997.
Schneider suggests that I-Gear's state-of-the-art-sounding Dynamic Document Review basically amounts to keyword blocking. For this reason, TIFAP tested I-Gear under its least restrictive "adult" setting with DDR disabled, thus using only the list of proscribed databases. It found that, even with this configuration, I-Gear blocked the entire Gay and Lesbian directory of Yahoo, as well as pages containing the words "cockfighting" and "pussycat."

Anemona Hartocollis, "Board Blocks Student Access to Web Sites: Computer Filter Hobbles Internet Research Work," New York Times, Nov. 10, 1999.
The New York Times reported that I-Gear barred students at Benjamin Cardozo High School, Queens, New York, from conducting Web searches for such topics as breast cancer, eating disorders, AIDS, and child labor. Though Symantec senior product manager Bernard I. May responded to the news by insisting that I-Gear demonstrated "absolutely no preference of one group or another," the article also noted that I-Gear blocked the home pages of abortion advocacy groups Planned Parenthood and the Alan Guttmacher Institute, but not the sites of such anti-abortion organizations as Right to Life and Operation Rescue. Students were also unable to access portions of an electronic text of The Grapes of Wrath—specifically, "a passage in which a woman lets a starving man suckle at her breast."

"Analysis of first 50 URL's blocked by I-Gear in the .edu domain," Peacefire, Mar. 2000.
Peacefire evaluated the first 50 dot-edu sites blocked in the "Sexual Acts" category according to a February 2000 I-Gear block list. Of the 50 blocks, Peacefire determined that 27 constituted "obvious errors" and 10, "marginal errors" (blocking of sites with moderately adult content but not falling within I-Gear's stated definition of "sexual acts"). Among the "obvious" wrongful blocks were a number of sites containing references to or information on homosexuality—such as the personal home page of Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute programmer Duane T. Williams ( and the text of an anti-gay pamphlet (, posted on the Web site of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance at the Georgia Institute of Technology—as well as sites with anti-censorship content, such as Mark Maimone's home page (, which contained links to information on "Net Privacy and Advocacy" as well as various astronomy, cartography, and art museum sites; and an essay on "Indecency on the Internet: Lessons from the Art World" (, by Julie Van Camp, a specialist in the philosophy of art law.

Other sites blocked for reasons unknown included "Semi-Automatic Morph Between Two Supermodels" (, an animation sequence in which images of two models' faces morph into each other, written by an MIT student; a diagram of a milk pasteurization system (; a site containing Book X, in Latin, of the Confessions of St. Augustine (—possibly, as Haselton speculated later, because of the common appearance of the word "cum"17; two others, on the Wheaton College server, comprising sections of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ( and; and lecture notes from a philosophy course at the University of Notre Dame (

"I-Gear Examined," Peacefire, 2000.
In tests of I-Gear throughout the first half of 2000, Peacefire found more sites blocked for questionable reasons, including the full text of Jane Eyre; the texts of the Electronic Privacy Information Center's (EPIC) legal challenge to the Communications Decency Act ( and of the Philadelphia district court's ruling against the CDA in ACLU v. Reno (; transcripts of testimony from ACLU v. Reno (; "Readings on Computer Communications and Freedom of Expression," a supplementary reading list for a course on Internet ethics at MIT (; and the free-speech page of the Center for Democracy and Technology's site (

I-Gear also barred a United Nations report, "HIV/AIDS: The Global Epidemic" (; the sites of the Albert Kennedy Trust (, which works on behalf of homeless gay teenagers; the Anti-Violence Project (, which specifically opposes anti-gay violence; the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Committee (; the Human Rights Campaign (; and the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus (; two pages of the National Organization for Women site, one providing information on gay rights (, the other a press release on the legal status of gay marriage in Hawaii (; a statement on equal rights for homosexuals (and women) in the workplace from the Industrial Workers of the World (; a portion of GLAAD's site containing information for prospective volunteers (; "The Homosexual Movement: A Response" (, a statement by the Ramsey Colloquium, "a group of Jewish and Christian theologians, ethicists, philosophers, and scholars," sponsored by the Institute on Religion and Public Life; two Web sites relating to the Christian Coalition—that of the organization's legal arm, the American Center for Law and Justice (, and of the Pat Robertson-owned Christian Broadcasting Network (; and the home page of the British Conservative Party (

Other blocked sites included a Cato Institute policy-analysis paper titled "Feminist Jurisprudence: Equal Rights or Neo-Paternalism?" (, a gender studies page on Carnegie Mellon University's English server (, Planned Parenthood (, CyberNOTHING's commentary on the sensationalism and careless journalism of Phillip Elmer-Dewitt's 1995 Time magazine cover story, "On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn" (, and the article "PETA and a Pornographic Culture" (, which protested the use of nude models in recent PETA advertising campaigns, and contained no images from them.

Miscellaneous reports
• In his July 14, 1998 expert witness report for the defendants in Mainstream Loudoun v. Board of Trustees of Loudoun County Library, David Burt reported that I-Gear blocked the Born-Again Virgins site (, the Fine Art Nude Webring (, and the home pages of four photography galleries: Alan Lindsay Garrett Gallery (, Debenport Fine Art Photography (, Ralph Oellerich Gallery (, and Sepia Studios (
• Peacefire's Amnesty Intercepted (Dec. 12, 2000) reported that I-Gear blocked the official site of the 1999 International Conference Combating Child Pornography on the Internet (
• In the March 23, 2001, report "Teen Health Sites Praised in Article, Blocked by Censorware" Bennett Haselton reported that I-Gear's Dynamic Document Review led to the partial blocking of three sites lauded in a recent New York Times article detailing health education sites for teens: iEmily (www.iEmily .com), KidsHealth (, and ZapHealth (

Internet Guard Dog

Internet Guard Dog, manufactured by McAfee , announces that it "allows children to surf and chat safely" through "a comprehensive objectionable content database" which prevents "messages deemed inappropriate ... from reaching your child." "[O]ffensive words" as well as sites are blocked. A June 9, 2000 review in PC Magazine noted that Guard Dog allows the user to filter by category (e.g., drugs, gambling, the occult) from levels 0 through 4, and that "[w]hen a line contains a disallowed word, Guard Dog replaces the entire line with asterisks."18

"Digital Chaperones for Kids," Consumer Reports, Mar. 2001.
Guard Dog failed to block 30% of "easily located web sites that contain sexually explicit content or violently graphic images, or that promote drugs, tobacco, crime, or bigotry," but it did block nearly 20% of sites deemed politically controversial but innocuous, including the Web site of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of NIH; and SEX, Etc., the Rutgers University educational site written by and for teens.

Net Nanny

Net Nanny relies nearly exclusively on a published keyword list, which accompanies a short list of actual prohibited sites. While generally commended for its willingness to disclose its blocking list, Net Nanny has nonetheless been charged with inappropriate and, more frequently, ineffective filtering.

Karen Schneider, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, 1997.
Schneider reported that Net Nanny blocked a long-obsolete URL that was part of an early version of Yahoo ( But it did not block, a sexually explicit site that had been in existence for 6 months.

Christopher Hunter, "Filtering the Future," July 1999.
Hunter concluded, based on his designations of objectionable and nonobjectionable sites, that Net Nanny's major failing lies in its underinclusive blocking. The software "performed horrendously," he wrote, "blocking a measly 17% of objectionable content" (it failed to block 30 sites, including and But it also blocked the fewest "nonobjectionable sites" (3%). That 3% consisted of 5 sites: the Queer Resources Directory (; the official home page of the White House (— is a well-known pornographic site; the Web site of Arthur R. Butz (, who is a Northwestern University engineering professor and a subscriber to Holocaust revisionism; the site of the Adelaide Institute (, another revisionist history site; an online casino site (; and the Coalition for Positive Sexuality home page (

Youth Access to Alcohol and Tobacco Web Marketing, Center for Media Education, Oct. 1999.
Net Nanny allowed every search CME attempted, for both promotional and educational alcohol- and tobacco-related sites. It blocked just 2% of the promotional sites in the CME's standard test sample. Though initially unable to access the official Cuervo Tequila site (, furthermore, CME researchers easily viewed it by entering the page's numerical IP address instead of its alphabetical one. Thus, "it would appear," according to the report, "that Net Nanny does not regularly take IP addresses into consideration when compiling its black list"—making it easy to circumvent. What Net Nanny did block was, apparently because its front page title, "Drug AbuseXXXXXXXXXX," was detected by the product's keyword-blocking feature.

"Net Nanny Examined," Peacefire, 2000.
Peacefire reported on newsgroups and mailing lists it deemed inappropriately blocked, including bit.listserv.aidsnews, sci .med.aids, alt.feminism, soc.feminism, (which disseminates statistical information on AIDS), (the e-mail list of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), (a discussion forum for homosexuals currently or formerly affiliated with the Boy and Girl Scouts of America), and (the e-mail list of the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals).

"Digital Chaperones for Kids," Consumer Reports, Mar. 2001.
Consumer Reports reinforced Hunter's and the CME's conclusions, reporting that Net Nanny failed to block 52% of the 86 "easily located web sites," selected by the magazine, that "contain sexually explicit content or violently graphic images, or that promote drugs, tobacco, crime, or bigotry." The filter did, however, block Rutgers University's teen-oriented SEX, Etc.

Miscellaneous reports
• According to Brock N. Meeks and Declan McCullagh's "Jacking in from the ‘Keys to the Kingdom' Port" (July 3, 1996), Net Nanny blocked every mailing list originating at, the computer-science division of the University of Colorado, as well as unspecified "feminist newsgroups."
• In "Adam and Eve Get Caught in ‘Net Filter" (Feb. 5, 1998), the Wichita Eagle reported that students at Wichita's Friends University, where Net Nanny had been installed at public computer stations, were barred from accessing pages containing educational material on sexually transmitted diseases, prostitution, and Adam and Eve.
• Net Nanny was cited in the Digital Freedom Network's "Winners of the Foil the Filter Contest" (Sept. 28, 2000) for blocking House Majority Leader Richard "Dick" Armey's official Web site ( upon detecting the word "dick." It also precluded a high school student in Australia from accessing sites on the genetics of cucumbers once Net Nanny detected the word "cum" in "cucumbers."

Net Shepherd

In October 1997, AltaVista and the filtering software Net Shepherd launched an AltaVista-based "Family Search" engine designed to screen the results of AltaVista searches and furnish users with pre-filtered results consisting only of sites deemed appropriate according to NetShepherd's database of site ratings. Net Shepherd claimed to have rated more than 300,000 sites based on "quality" and "maturity," relying on "demographically appropriate internet users'" judgments of what would be "superfluous and/or objectionable to the average family."19

"Faulty Filters: How Content Filters Block Access to Kid-Friendly Information on the Internet," Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), 1997.
In November 1997, EPIC performed the same 100 searches on standard AltaVista and the "Family Search" version. Its sample of search terms included 25 schools, 25 charitable and political organizations, 25 educational and cultural organizations, and 25 "miscellaneous concepts and entities" that could be of research interest to children, for instance "astronomy," "Bill of Rights," "Teen Pregnancy," and "Thomas Edison."

The first search term on EPIC's list was "Arbor Heights Elementary." This primary school's site ( contained, among other features, an online version of Cool Writers Magazine, a literary serial geared for children aged 7-12. The search on unfiltered AltaVista resulted in 824 sites mentioning the school, while the same search through NetShepherd returned only 3. Thus, EPIC determined that 99.6% of search results were filtered out. In subsequent searches for elementary, middle, and high schools, EPIC concluded that NetShepherd blocked between 85.6 and 98.9% of material, even though "several of the pages that were returned with the unfiltered search engine but not with the filtered search engine" contained nothing "that an average user family would consider to be inappropriate or objectionable."

EPIC found similar filtering of charitable and political organizations, ranging from 88.9 to 99.9%. Among the most heavily filtered search results were those for "American Cancer Society" (which had 38,762 relevant sites on an unfiltered search but only 6 with NetShepherd), "United Jewish Appeal" (for which Net Shepherd allowed only one of the 3,024 sites that were otherwise reported as relevant); and "United Way" (for which Net Shepherd allowed 23 out of 54,300 responsive sites). As for educational, artistic, and cultural institutions, NetShepherd filtered between 91.4 and 99.9% of relevant sites. On a search for "National Aquarium," NetShepherd allowed 63 of the 2,134 sites otherwise reported by AltaVista. Similarly, NetShepherd blocked 99.5% of sites responsive to the search term "photosynthesis," 99.9% for "astronomy," and 99.9% for "Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart." (EPIC's legal director David Sobel later told the Free Expression Policy Project that the blocking percentages were actually somewhat lower than Faulty Filters reported, because even unfiltered AltaVista would not have provided access to all the responsive sites.)

Norton Internet Security 2001 Family Edition

The Norton Internet Security Family Edition is manufactured by Symantec, which also produces I-Gear. The methodology and blocking categories are the same as I-Gear's.

"Digital Chaperones for Kids," Consumer Reports, Mar. 2001.
Consumer Reports found that the NIS Family Edition left unblocked 20% of the sites it deemed objectionable, while filtering the sites of such organizations as the Citizens' Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms and NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse.


SafeServer relies on so-called Intelligent Content Recognition Technology (iCRT), "a leading-edge technology based on artificial intelligence and pattern recognition technologies . . . trained to detect English-language pornography" and to screen requested Web pages in real time. It has 7 categories of objectionable content: "Hate," "Pornography," "Gambling," "Weapons," "Drugs," "Job Search," and "Stock Trading." It does not state its criteria for determining that a Web site fits into any of these categories.

"SafeServer error rate for first 1,000 .com domains," Peacefire, Oct. 23, 2000.
On a SafeServer proxy in use at a high school (where an unnamed student had volunteered to assist with Peacefire's research), configured to bar sites in the categories of "Drugs," "Gambling," "Hate," "Pornography," and "Weapons," Peacefire attempted to access a selection of commercial domains used earlier in an identical test of SurfWatch, and also in concurrent tests of Cyber Patrol and AOL Parental Controls. SafeServer blocked 44 pages in the 1,000-site sample; 15 of those 44 were "under construction." Peacefire determined that of the remaining 29 sites, 10 were inappropriately blocked:,,,,,,,,, and As with other filters tested similarly, Haselton acknowledged that the resulting error rate of 34% was not entirely reliable because of the small sample under review, and that SafeServer could have an error rate as low as 15%; but that the rate of error among .org sites would presumably be higher, since pornographic sites were more prevalent among commercial domains.


SafeSurf operates a voluntary self-rating system whereby authors of Web pages can evaluate their sites according to 10 content categories, including "Profanity," "Nudity," "Glorifying Drug Use," and "Other Adult Themes." (See appendix B.) In addition, each page is assigned a numerical rating, or a "SafeSurf Identification Standard" (indicated by the "SafeSurf Wave": SS~~) between one and 9 to indicate its age range. Web-page authors may assign ratings in other categories as necessary. For instance, an author may assign his or her material a "Nudity" rating of one if it includes "Subtle Innuendo; [nudity] subtly implied through the use of composition, lighting, shaping, revealing clothing, etc." or a rating of 7 if it presents "[e]rotic frontal nudity." From 1996–97, SafeSurf offered a remote server-based Internet Filtering Solution for schools, libraries, ISPs, and businesses.

"SafeSurf Examined," Peacefire, 2000.
According to this online report updated in July 2000, SafeSurf blocked multiple sites containing likely opposition to Web censorship and filtering, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Internet Censorship and Regulation archive (; a list of free-speech links on the Web site of the American Communication Association (; "The X-Stop Files" and "The Mind of a Censor," two articles in the Ethical Spectacle, one reporting sites inappropriately blocked by X-Stop (, the other profiling Internet-filter advocate David Burt (; a CNET news article on guidelines drafted by the American Library Association for countering campaigns for mandatory filtering (,10000,0-1005-200-318677,00.html); the home pages of the Wisconsin Civil Liberties Union ( and the National Coalition Against Censorship (; Echo Communications (, which was a plaintiff in ALA v. Pataki, a successful challenge to New York's Internet censorship law; and a Scientific American article on "Turf Wars in Cyberspace" ( SafeSurf also blocked the online edition of Free Inquiry (, a publication of the Council for Secular Humanism; a United Nations paper on "HIV/AIDS: The Global Epidemic" (; and, for reasons unclear, the full texts of The Odyssey ( and The Iliad ( iliad.html), both of which appeared on the University of Oregon server.


SmartFilter, manufactured by Secure Computing, was originally intended for employers seeking to limit employees' non-work-related Internet usage. By 1999, it was also targeting schools.20 The filter's control list has undergone slight modifications, but on the whole, prior to 2001 SmartFilter divided objectionable sites into 27 categories, which could be enabled according to each customer's needs. When SmartFilter 3.0 was unveiled in January 2001, 3 of the categories ("Alternative Journals," "Non-Essential," and "Worthless") had been removed, and 6 others added, including "Mature" and "Nudity." In addition, the "Sex" category was adjusted to encompass not only sites containing pornographic images or sexually oriented material, but also "text of sex acts." But educational information on sex ("sexually transmitted diseases, safe sex, teen pregnancy") previously included in the "Sex" category, was now excluded. This latest version of SmartFilter did not deem a page a "Sex" site on the basis of "nudity" alone. (See appendix B for definitions of all the blocking categories.)

Karen Schneider, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, 1997.
Testing SmartFilter with only its "Sex" category enabled, TIFAP found 12 sites blocked, of which 7, in TIFAP's estimation, were blocked erroneously. These included 3 sites on marijuana use, 3 gay-interest sites, and a site containing information on safe sex. (No specific information on the blocked sites was provided.)

"SmartFilter Examined," Peacefire, 2000.
In September 1997, Peacefire tested SmartFilter configured to block sites falling into categories likely to be activated in a school setting: "Criminal Skills," "Drugs," "Gambling," "Hate Speech," and "Sex." Among the organizations whose sites were blocked were Community United Against Violence (, which works to prevent anti-gay hate crime; Peaceable Texans for Firearms Rights (; the Marijuana Policy Project (; the National Institute on Drug Abuse (; Mother Jones magazine (; the United States Information Agency (; the American Friends Service Committee (; the Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development (; the gay-themed Oasis Magazine (; the Stop AIDS Project (; and Campaign for Our Children (, a nonprofit organization working to prevent teen pregnancy. In addition to pornography, SmartFilter blocked sites containing educational information on "sexually transmitted diseases, safe-sex, and teen pregnancy."

Censored Internet Access in Utah Public Schools and Libraries, Censorware Project, Mar. 1999.
The Censorware Project secured Internet log files from Sept. 10-Oct. 10, 1998, of the Utah Education Network, or UEN, a state agency responsible for providing telecommunications services to all the state's public schools and many of its libraries. UEN's Internet access was filtered by SmartFilter. Censorware deemed about 350 Web pages needlessly blocked under one or more of the 5 categories chosen by UEN: "Criminal Skills," "Drugs," "Gambling," "Hate Speech" and "Sex."

Secure Computing claimed that "sites are not added to the Control List without first being viewed and approved by our staff," yet Censorware found that the home page of the Instructional Systems Program at Florida State University ( was blocked under the "gambling" category, presumably because the word "wager" appears in the URL. (Walter Wager, a member of the program faculty, apparently maintained the site). SmartFilter also blocked "Marijuana: Facts for Teens" (, a brochure published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (a division of the National Institutes of Health), as a drug-related site. Censorware's findings also strongly suggested that SmartFilter blocked the entire Wiretap server ( or under the category of "criminal skills"—on account, it seems, of its URL—even though Wiretap consists solely of electronic texts such as presidential inaugural addresses, the Declaration of Independence, Shakespeare's complete plays, The Jungle Book, Moby Dick, and the Book of Mormon. Another server entirely blocked, for reasons unclear, was, under the "Drugs" category; this server of the Institute for Global Communications was home to numerous nonprofit activist groups, such as the Rainforest Action Network (, Human Rights Watch (, and Earth First! (, and to a transcript of a radio forum on "Electronic Porn and Computer Network Censorship" (

In other cases, possibly owing to keyword- or URL-based filtering, pages were blocked whose aims were to raise awareness of such issues as "Hate Speech" and "Drugs." Among these were Hate Watch (, a site monitoring and opposing online hate speech; a scholarly paper titled "‘... as if I were the master of the situation': Proverbial Manipulation in Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf," from the archives of De Proverbio: An Electronic Journal of International Proverb Studies (,1,1,95/HITLER.html); the home page of the Iowa State Division of Narcotics Enforcement (; and a portion of the Web site of National Families in Action, a national drug education, prevention, and policy center (

Three months after Censored Internet Access was published, Secure Computing issued a press release interpreting the report as a confirmation of SmartFilter's effectiveness.21 During the period in question, the release stated, "there were over 54 million web access attempts and of those, according to the report, less that 300 were denied access because the site contacted had been mis-categorized. This represents stunning accuracy rate of 99.9994 percent." Similarly, David Burt posted a report in which he claimed that only 279 sites were actually included in Censorware's study, after eliminating sites listed more than once (in his estimation; often, Burt grouped as one site what actually amounted to the blocking of multiple distinct pages on a single server), and that of these, only 64 actually constituted inappropriate blocks.22

"Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics," Censorware Project, June 23, 1999.
This was the Censorware Project's response to Secure Computing's and David Burt's rebuttals of Censored Internet Access. Author Jamie McCarthy stated, "In Utah, for every 22 times SmartFilter ‘correctly' blocked someone from accessing a webpage, there was one ‘wrongly' blocked access. In other words, the overblocking rate was about 5%." Censorware also identified 3 problems with Secure Computing's and David Burt's interpretations of its findings. First, only instances of overblocking had been considered in the original report; mistakenly unblocked sites could have constituted an altogether different source of additional error on SmartFilter's part. Second, Censorware's investigation did not include sites on SmartFilter's block list that were overridden by the UEN—such as, which accounted for 6,434 of the total 122,700 blocked page requests. "Counting these accesses," Censorware wrote, "would raise the error rate from 1 in 22 to 1 in 19." Third, Secure Computing only took into account the approximately 300 blocked sites, forgetting that within the interval under study there had been 5,601 individual wrongful blocks.

Regarding Burt's detailed analyses of the sites deemed needlessly blocked, Censorware conceded that he was, in a few cases, correct (the sites in question being pornographic after all); yet Secure Computing actually removed them from the SmartFilter database after the first report appeared—and added the Censorware site, in all 27 blocking categories.

Seth Finkelstein, "SmartFilter's Greatest Evils," Nov. 16, 2000.
Examining sites that SmartFilter blocked in more than one category, Finkelstein found that a number of privacy and anonymous surfing sites, many of which allow users to circumvent filtering software, were blocked in every control list category (except "Non-Essential"). His report named 19 such services' sites, including,,,, and www. SmartFilter also blocked, under every available classification but "Non-Essential," many sites providing translations of foreign-language Web pages, for instance,,, and While such sites did not fall within SmartFilter's published blocking criteria at the time, they would very shortly thereafter (though not, of course, in every category), with the introduction of SmartFilter 3.0.

Seth Finkelstein, "SmartFilter—I've Got a Little List," Dec. 7, 2000.
Finkelstein conducted a series of tests with SmartFilter enabled to block only "Extreme/Obscene" material, and found that SmartFilter blocked a Web site for gay and lesbian Mormons (; multiple sites relating to "extreme" sports, such as a page on desert off-roading (, a site dedicated to rock climbing (, and ESPN2's motorcycle sports page (; the Gibb Computer Services site (, which advertises the "GCS Extreme Series—High performance custom computer systems"; sites relating to "hardcore" wrestling (such as and and punk rock (such as and; other popular music sites, devoted to such recording artists as Primus (, Tupac Shakur (, and Marilyn Manson (; the comic book series Savage Dragon (; illustrator H.R. Giger's home page (; and the official Web site of The Jerry Springer Show (

Finkelstein also listed 64 newsgroups blocked by SmartFilter. Among those barred for "Criminal Skills"—related information were the Telecommunications Digest (; two newsgroups maintained by the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility ( .announce and; the Electronic Frontier Foundation newsgroup (; and a newsgroup on "security issues of computers and networks" ( Other newsgroups, blocked on the grounds that they contained "Cult/Occult" material, included one for "studying antiquities of the world" (news:sci.archaeology); one on Mesoamerican archaeology (news:sci.archaeology.mesoamerican); 18 newsgroups pertaining to genealogy; a discussion group on the Baha'i religion (news:soc.religion.bahai); a Bible-study group (; and 12 other newsgroups relating to various religions, including news:soc.religion .hindu and news:talk.religion.buddhism.

Miscellaneous reports
• Soon after SmartFilter 3.0's introduction, it was cited by Peacefire's "BabelFish blocked by censorware" (Feb. 27, 2001) for filtering out AltaVista's featured foreign-language Web site translation service (


SurfWatch is owned by SurfControl, which also manufactures Cyber Patrol. It blocks Web sites falling into any of 5 "Core" categories: "Sexually Explicit," "Drugs/ Alcohol," "Gambling," "Violence," and "Hate Speech." (See appendix B.) According to the "Filtering Facts" page of SurfWatch's Web site, "Before adding any site to our database, each site ‘candidate' is reviewed by a SurfWatch Content Specialist. Deciphering the gray areas is not something that we trust to technology; it requires thought and sometimes discussion." The statement continues, "We use technology to help find site candidates, but rely on thoughtful analysis for the final decision. Before any site or word pattern is added to the database, it is reviewed for context of use on the Web—how it is being used, what other types of content might be restricted if this is blocked. We review the impact that each word or site block will have once implemented in our filters."23 Yet complaints of SurfWatch's inaccurate filtering have continually arisen in recent years. (See "Miscellaneous reports," below, for examples of what clearly appear to be keyword blocking.)

Christopher Kryzan, "SurfWatch Censorship Against Lesbigay WWW Pages," e-mail release, June 14, 1995.
As early as 1995, SurfWatch was criticized for inaccurate and politically loaded blocking. In an e-mail release, Web activist Christopher Kryzan wrote that the recently introduced software blocked 10 of the "30–40 queer-related sites" he tested, including those of the International Association of Gay Square Dance Clubs ( IAGSDC/clubs.html), the Society for Human Sexuality ( ~sfpse), the University of California at Berkeley's LGB Association (server.berkeley .edu/mblga/uclgba.html), Queer Web (server, and the Maine Gay Network (

Karen Schneider, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, 1997.
TIFAP also found SurfWatch blocked nonpornographic sites relating to sexuality (testers could not disable SurfWatch's keyword-blocking feature). Though searches for "breast cancer" and "chicken breasts" were allowed, searches for "penis" and "vaginal" were not. Schneider also noted that the filter blocked, a page of information on safe sex; and, "an excellent guide," she wrote, "for sexual activity for the disabled."

"Digits: Expletive Deleted," Wall Street Journal, May 6, 1999.
This column reported that SurfWatch blocked 2 newly registered domains (www. and—even though the sites contained as yet no content—apparently because, "in a setup called ‘virtual hosting,'" they shared IP addresses with pornography sites. SurfWatch marketing director Theresa Marcroft "conceded that the company's software tends to block even innocuous virtually hosted sites if they are added to an Internet address that has been previously blocked, although she notes that the company responds quickly to unblock clean sites once it knows about them." To the Censorware Project's Jim Tyre, this contradicted the company's claim of "thoughtful analysis"; in a response to the Journal article, he said Marcroft's revelation affirmed "that claims made by the censorware vendors (most, if not all, not just SurfWatch) that all sites are human-reviewed before being banned are outright lies."24

Christopher Hunter, "Filtering the Future," July 1999.
Hunter reported that SurfWatch blocked 44.4% of sites he deemed objectionable (16 out of 36), and 7% of nonobjectionable ones (12 out of 164). The nonobjectionable sites included Free Speech Internet Television (; RiotGrrl (; All Sports Casino (, Atlantis Gaming site (, and Platinum Casino (; the Web sites of Budweiser beer (, Absolut Vodka (,and the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (; the Adelaide Institute site (, which is devoted to revisionist history; and the home page of Holocaust revisionist Arthur R. Butz ( While the pages Hunter cited may have contained no material objectionable according to the RSACi ratings, 8 of them did contain content that fell within SurfWatch's published definitions of "Gambling," "Drugs/Alcohol," or "Hate Speech." But the product then blocked underinclusively in regard to other gambling, drug-, alcohol-, and hate-related sites, and thus the overall degree of error remained basically the same.

Youth Access to Alcohol and Tobacco Web Marketing, Center for Media Education, Oct. 1999.
CME deemed SurfWatch the most effective of the products it evaluated in preventing access to alcohol- and tobacco-related promotional content (it blocked 70% of its promotional-site test sample) though "testers were still able to access a number of sites, including,, and" SurfWatch also blocked, on average, a relatively high 46% of promotional sites generated by Yahoo, Go/InfoSeek, and Excite searches, and prohibited one search, for the term "drinking games," altogether. The filter did not block any of CME's chosen educational or public-health sites.

"SurfWatch error rates for first 1,000 .com domains," Peacefire, Aug. 2, 2000.
Peacefire procured an alphabetical list of current dot-com domains from Network Solutions, which maintains a list of every dot-com domain in existence, and eliminated the sites that began with dashes rather than letters (as "[a] disproportionate number of these were pornographic sites that chose their domain name[s] solely in order to show up at the top of an alphabetical listing," their inclusion would have rendered the sample an insufficiently representative cross section of the domains in question). From the remaining sites, Peacefire culled the first 1,000 active domains, and attempted to access them against a version of SurfWatch with a block list current as of July 31, 2000, configured to filter only sites with "sexually explicit" content.

SurfWatch blocked 147 of 1,000 domains. After eliminating 96 that were "under construction," Peacefire found that 42 of the remaining 51 were nonpornographic, for an "error rate" of 82%. While Haselton wrote that this figure might not be precise given the limited number of domains he examined (the actual error rate potentially being anything from 65 to 95%), "the test does establish that the likelihood of SurfWatch having an error rate of, say, less than 60% across all domains, is virtually zero." As with other filters tested, Haselton remarked, "we should expect the error rate to be even higher for .org sites that are blocked." And considering the sites that were blocked—such as, a-1sierrastorage .com, and—he found highly questionable SurfWatch's claim of "thoughtful analysis."

"Amnesty Intercepted," Peacefire, Dec. 12, 2000.
SurfWatch blocked a number of human-rights organizations on the grounds that they contained "sexually explicit" material: Algeria Watch (; Human Rights for Workers (; the Mumia Solidaritäts Index (; the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (; the International Coptic Congress (; Liberte Aref (, which tracks human rights abuses in Djibouti, and advocates, in particular, on behalf of Aref Mohamed Aref, a Djibouti attorney in danger of arrest for his critiques of the government; the Commissioner of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (; Green Brick Road (, a compilation of resources on global environmental education; and the New York University chapter of Amnesty International ( SurfWatch blocked, an "online legal studies information center," in its entirety. In its "Drugs/Alcohol" category, SurfWatch blocked the home pages of the Strategic Pastoral Action Network (, Charter 97 (, which documents human rights violations in Belarus, and the Kosova Committee in Denmark (, an association whose mission, according to its bylaws, is "to support the population of Kosova politically, culturally and respecting human welfare, and in connection with the negotiations concerning the termination of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia to support the population's justified demands for self-determination." The Web sites of Parish without Borders ( and Dalitstan (, an organization working on behalf of the oppressed Dalits, or black untouchables, in India, were blocked under SurfWatch's "Violence/Hate Speech" classification.

"SurfWatch Examined," Peacefire, 2000.
SurfWatch blocked, as "Sexually Explicit," various public-health and sex-education sites, including Health-Net's page of "Facts about Sexual Assault" (; "What You Should Know about Sex & Alcohol" (, from the department of student health services at the University of Queensland; "A World of Risk" (, a study of the state of sex education in schools; and various informational pages on sexually transmitted diseases, hosted by Allegheny University Hospitals (, the Anchorage Community Health Services Division ( Com/sex.html), Washington University (, and the Society for the Advancement of Women's Health Research (

Miscellaneous reports
• A February 19, 1996 Netsurfer Digest item ("White House Accidentally Blocked by SurfWatch") revealed that SurfWatch blocked a page on the official White House site (, because "couples.html" appeared in the URL—the couples in question were the Clintons and the Gores.
• According to "Internet Names and Filtering Software" (Mar. 5, 1997), an e-mail release to the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom list, SurfWatch blocked the Web site of the University of Kansas's Archie R. Dykes Medical Library upon detecting the word "dykes."
• Lars Kongshem reported in the Electronic School article "How Well Does Internet Filtering Software Protect Students?" (Jan. 1998) that a librarian in the Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, school district, "was not able to access the English server at Carnegie Mellon University."
• On March 11, 1999, the New York Times ("Tables Turn on a Filtering Site as It Is Temporarily Blocked") reported that SurfWatch had accidentally and inexplicably blocked Filtering Facts (www.filteringfacts .org), a filter-promoting site maintained by David Burt.
• According to David Burt's July 14, 1998 expert witness report for the defendants in the Mainstream Loudoun, case, SurfWatch prohibited access to 27, or 54%, of sites he considered nonobscene, including Dr. Ruth's official site (, the home page of the Society for Human Sexuality (, Williams College's page on Enjoying Safer Sex ( sex/safesex), and five Web sites dedicated to fine-art nude photography: Alan Lindsay Garrett, Debenport, Ralph Oellerich, Fine Line Photography ( fineline.htm), and Ronald Lee Hildebrand Gallery (
• The Digital Freedom Network ("Winners of the Foil the Filter Contest," Sept. 28, 2000) reported that SurfWatch blocked House Majority Leader Richard "Dick" Armey's official Web site ( upon detecting the word "dick.."


We-Blocker is a free Internet filtering service that blocks sites falling into any of 7 classifications. (See >appendix B.) We-Blocker finds potentially objectionable sites through recommendations from users. Then, according to the product information page of the Web site (, "A We-Blocker agent reviews the site—if it is CLEARLY objectionable, it is automatically entered into the database. . . . If the site submitted is not clearly objectionable, it is passed to the We-Blocker site review committee."

" Censoring Gay Sites was ‘Simply a Mistake,'" press release, GLAAD, Aug. 5, 1999.
GLAAD reported that We-Blocker had barred the sites of various gay community members and organizations, including the New York Lesbian and Gay Center and the online news service After notification, the company's CTO (chief technological officer) unblocked the sites and explained that they had been accidentally added to the software's block list after being "flagged" for the key word "sex"—and hence the terms "homosexual," "bisexual," and "sexual orientation"—but not reviewed by a We-Blocker employee. "While admirable in its desire to rectify its mistake," the press release stated, "We-Blocker illustrates how imperfect Internet filtering software can be."


WebSENSE states that it is designed almost solely for office and library use. It originally operated with 30 blocking categories, including "Shopping," "Sports," and "Tasteless," which could be enabled according to each administrator's needs. The filtering categories were revised with the December 2000 release of WebSENSE Enterprise 4.0, which extended the number of filtering categories from 30 to 53 and supplied greater specificity in some of the individual category definitions. WebSENSE's "Alcohol/ Tobacco," "Gay/Lesbian Lifestyles," and "Personals/Dating" categories were brought together, along with the new classifications "Restaurants and Dining" and "Hobbies," under an umbrella category, "Society and Lifestyle." Its "Hacking" category was incorporated into the larger "Information Technology," which also encompassed the previously unaccounted-for "Proxy Avoidance Systems," "Search Engines & Portals," "Web Hosting," and "URL Translation Sites." The "Activist" and "Politics" categories were combined into one, as were "Cults" and "Religion," while "Alternative Journals" were absorbed into a "News & Media" category. Separate subcategories were created for "Sex Education" and "Lingerie & Swimsuit." (See appendix B for details on the 53 categories.)

Karen Schneider, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, 1997.
Schneider's Internet Filter Assessment Project found that WebSENSE blocked a page discussing pornographic videos but not containing any pornographic material, as well as the entire host—because one site housed on WebCom contained sexually explicit content.

Protecting Judges Against Liza Minnelli: The WebSENSE Censorware at Work, Censorware Project, June 21, 1998.
The Censorware Project examined WebSENSE after learning it had been installed on computers in federal courts (in the Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits) and in some Florida and Indiana public libraries. The title of the report was inspired by the authors' discovery that a Liza Minnelli fan page ( was classified by WebSENSE as "Adult Entertainment" and duly blocked. Other "grossly inappropriate" blocks, according to Censorware, included the Jewish Teens page (; the home page of the Canine Molecular Genetics Project at Michigan State University (; a number of Japanese-language sports sites (presumably, according to the report, because the software interpreted a particular fragment of transliterated Japanese as an English-language word on its block list); the home page of the Sterling Funding Corporation, a Rancho Santa Margarita, California–based mortgage loan company (; the former site of the Safer Sex page, now devoted to AIDS prevention (; and a copy of the British Internet service provider Demon's Internet Policy on Censorship ( Also deemed erroneous was a block on the "Censorbait" page, consisting of links to, but no images of, "items the censors don't want you to see"—sites relating to sex, drugs, and lock-picking, for instance—on the MIT Student Association for Freedom of Expression site (

Michael Swaine, "WebSENSE Blocking Makes No Sense,", June 4, 1999.
In June 1999,'s Michael Swaine was notified that Swaine's World, his page on technology-related news, had been categorized by WebSENSE as a "Travel" site—for Swaine had once posted an article about a trade show he attended—and was thus being blocked on the computers of a WebSENSE-filtered office. Though the block, once brought to WebSENSE's attention, was removed, Swaine writes, "Many web sites are being appropriately blocked every day because the blocking schemes are woefully inadequate. WebSENSE explained to me why it had blocked by site, but the explanation was hardly reassuring."

Miscellaneous reports
• The article "Shield Judges from Sex?" in the May 18, 1998, issue of the National Law Journal reported that WebSENSE blocked a travel agency site after detecting the word "exotic"—as in "exotic locales."

• In an article on various filters' treatment of health information for teens ("Teen Health Sites Praised in Article, Blocked by Censorware," Peacefire, Mar. 23, 2001), Peacefire reported that WebSENSE 4.0 blocked TeenGrowth ( as an "Entertainment" site.


X-Stop's claim to fame is its "Felony Load," later redubbed the "Librarian" edition, through which the product's manufacturers, the Log-On Data Corporation, originally claimed that "only sites qualifying under the Miller standard are blocked," referring to Miller v. California's three-part test for constitutionally unprotected obscenity. Log-On also asserted that "[l]egitimate art or education sites are not blocked by the library edition, nor are so-called ‘soft porn' or ‘R'-rated sites.25 Subsequently, X-Stop's manufacturer, which changed its name to "8e6 Technologies," only maintained that "Nobody blocks more pornographic sites than X-Stop. We also search out and block sources containing dangerous information like drugs and alcohol, hate crimes and bomb-making instructions."26

The software relies on an automated "MudCrawler" that locates potentially objectionable sites using 44 criteria that are not made public. Borderline cases are reviewed by "‘MudCrawler' technicians."27 X-Stop also comes equipped with a "Foul Word Library," whereby users are prohibited from typing (in e-mails or search forms, for instance) any of the listed terms.

Jonathan Wallace, "The X-Stop Files," Oct. 5, 1997.
Wallace reported a host of benign sites blocked by a version of X-Stop obtained in July 1997, including The File Room (fileroom, an online interactive archival project on censorship cases hosted by the University of Illinois at Chicago and initiated by an artist-in-residence at the UIC's School of Art and Design; the National Journal of Sexual Orientation Law (; Carnegie Mellon University's Banned Books page (; the Web site of the American Association of University Women (; the AIDS Quilt site (; certain sections of the AOL Sucks site (; the home page of the Heritage Foundation (; multiple sites housed on the server—Wallace's report specifically cited the "Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting" page (; the Religious Society of Friends (; and the Quality Resources Online site (

"X-Stop Examined," Peacefire, Sept. 1997.
Peacefire reported that 15 URLs blocked by X-Stop's "Felony Load" included the online edition of the San Jose Mercury News (; a Web site that Peacefire said belonged to the Holy See (; the site of the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization (; the home page of the art galleries of the Illinois State University College of Fine Arts (; the Winona State University Affirmative Action Office Home Page (; the Web site of Community United Against Violence (, an organization dedicated to preventing anti-gay violence; the Blind Children's Center (; the Planned Parenthood page (; and the entire Angelfire host (

Karen Schneider, A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, 1997.
Schneider's Internet Filter Assessment Project also found Planned Parenthood blocked, as well as "a safe-sex Website, several gay advocacy sites, and sites with information that would rate as highly risque, but not obscene, let alone felonious."

Documents filed in Mainstream Loudoun v. Board of Trustees of the Loudoun County Library
Plaintiffs' complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, Dec. 22, 1997.
The original complaint lodged by Mainstream Loudoun reported that X-Stop's "foul word" blocking procedure had rendered it impossible for library patrons to search for the word "bastard"—and thus searches for such novels as Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina and John Jakes's The Bastard. Also forbidding the term "pussy," X-Stop barred Web searches for "pussy willows" and "The Owl and the Pussy Cat." On the other hand, the filter allowed searches for "69," "prick," "pecker," dick," blow job," "porn," and "nipple."
"Internet Sites Blocked by X-Stop," Plaintiffs' Exhibit 22 (list dated Oct. 1997).
Plaintiff's Exhibit 22 listed the URLs of 62 sites at one time or another blocked by X-Stop, among them (in addition to many pages also cited by Karen Schneider, the Censorware Project, and others) a page containing information on dachsunds (, the Coalition for Positive Sexuality site (, a page on the Lambda Literary Awards (, which recognize "excellence in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered literature," and the Lesbian and Gay Rights in Latvia site (
ACLU memoranda, Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 1998.
An ACLU researcher reported that among the sites blocked by X-Stop as of February 1, 1998, at the Sterling branch of the Loudoun County Public Library were; Town Hall (, a conservative news site;, which proclaimed itself "addicted to loud noise"; the Queer Resources Directory (; and, a teen-oriented site containing health information but also vulgar words. Not blocked were a number of "counter" sites, including those promoting abstinence as the only "safe sex," such as the Safest Sex Home Page (; sites containing anti-homosexuality material, for instance a portion of the American Family Association site ( that discusses "Homosexuality in America: Exposing the Myths," and pages on the Concerned Women for America site, one "Debunking the Myth of Gay Youth Suicide" (, the other discussing "Health and Homosexuality: How Sexual Behavior Impacts Public Health" (; and Web sites of organizations supporting the Communications Decency Act, such as Enough is Enough (, Morality in Media (, the National Campaign to Combat Internet Pornography (, and Oklahomans for Children and Families (
Plaintiffs-intervenors' complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, Feb. 5, 1998.
The intervenors' complaint describes sites of 8 plaintiff-intervenors—all blocked by X-Stop—including the Ethical Spectacle (; Foundry, a Web magazine that published the work of painter Sergio Arau; Books for Gay & Lesbian Teens/Youth; the San Francisco Chronicle—owned SF Gate (; the home page of the Renaissance Transgender Association (, whose mission is "to provide the very best comprehensive education and caring support to transgendered individuals and those close to them"; and Banned Books On-Line, which featured the electronic texts of such literary works as Candide, The Origin of Species, Lysistrata, and Moll Flanders. As of October 1997, X-Stop blocked the entire Banned Books site; by the time of the complaint, X-Stop had unblocked most pages on the site, with the exception of Nicholas Saunders's E for Ecstasy, which "contain[ed] nothing that could remotely qualify as ‘pornographic.'"
ACLU memoranda, June 17-23, 1998.
ACLU researchers found, in addition to many instances of underblocking, that X-Stop blocked, a collection of links to gay-interest sites;, which contained a discussion of Fat Tuesday from a gay point of view.; a Dr. Ruth-endorsed site vending sex-education videos ( .video2/html); and multiple non-prurient sex-related sites, such as Sexuality Bytes (, an "online encyclopedia of sex and sexual health"; the Frequently Asked Questions page of the newsgroup (, which presented "educational information" pertaining to sex, contraception, and sex-related laws, along with some textbook-style diagrams and photographs of sex organs;, a "grrrls" site with some "harsh language" but no images or "really pornographic" material; and a Geocities-hosted site ( that contained information on and images of amateur women's wrestling—none of which, according to the researcher, were pornographic or sexually oriented. Subsequent memoranda reported that X-Stop blocked, a page containing information on genital warts;, a "discussion," in the researcher's words, "of sodomy from a philosophical/postmodernist perspective"; and, a site about enemas.
Karen Schneider, Plaintiffs' expert witness report, June 18, 1998.
Schneider testified that she conducted personal tests of X-Stop, using the same methodology as was applied in A Practical Guide to Internet Filters, with two copies of the program, one purchased in anticipation of her testimony, the other furnished by Log-On Data Corporation on May 27, 1998. Stating that "X-Stop blocks access to a wide variety of websites that contain valuable, protected speech, yet fails to block many arguably ‘pornographic' websites," Schneider testified that the filter blocked the page for "Safe Sex—The Manual" ( a5.html), which had received an "Education through Humor" prize at the World Festival of Animated Films; another safe-sex education page (; a number of sites pertaining to homosexuality, including a site on which gay-themed jewelry was sold (; Black Iris (, a site selling gay-themed jewelry and apparel; Rainbow Mall (, an index to gay-interest sites; an essay on the Stonewall Riot (; and Arrow Magazine (, an online journal geared for "homosexual men in committed relationships"—on which, according to its self-imposed RSACi rating, neither nudity, sex, nor violence appear. Schneider also cited some pages allowed by X-Stop: a site containing images of "naked women urinating, in some cases on other people" (; Absolute Anal Porn (; and two sites containing images of individuals engaging in sexual acts ( and
David Burt, Defendants' expert witness report, July 14, 1998.
Filtering advocate David Burt arrived at a different conclusion in his expert witness report on behalf of Loudoun County. He stated that "X-Stop is likely the least restrictive filter for blocking obscenity, while [it] is reasonably effective at blocking what are clearly hard-core sites." To illustrate, Burt selected 100 Web sites, 50 of which were "likely to be obscene" and 50 of which were provocative but "clearly did not meet one of the ‘obscene' categories."28 This second 50-site sample comprised 10 soft-core sites, 10 sites devoted to fine-art nude photography, 10 that provided safe sex information, 10 devoted to nude photographs of celebrities (deemed unobjectionable because "this type of pornography almost always consists of simple nudity and partial nudity"), and 10 nonpornographic sites relating to sexuality, such as Dr. Ruth's Web site ( and the home page of the Coalition for Positive Sexuality ( Burt found that X-Stop blocked 43 of the 50 "likely obscene" sites, or 86%. X-Stop left unblocked 70% of the soft-core sites Burt had selected, all but one (or 90%) of the nude-celebrity sites (barring only the British Babes Photo Gallery []), and all of the art-nude, safe-sex, and sexuality-information sites. Thus Burt determined that, on average, X-Stop allowed access to 92% of his unobjectionable sites.
Michael Welles, Plaintiff's Expert Witness Report, Sept. 1, 1998.
System engineer Michael Welles testified that even with X-Stop installed on his computer, he had easily accessed online pornography, and asserted that "One needs a human judge, and a human judge or team of human judges cannot work quickly enough to process the amount of material that is out [on the Web]. . . . It is simply too large a task, and the size of the task is growing in proportion with the Internet itself." "[I]t is not possible," Welles concluded, "to find a technological method by which a person seeking to establish a blocking system could reliably block sites that must be identified by their subject matter without blocking sites that contain a different subject matter."
Loren Kropat, Second declaration, Sept. 2, 1998.
Loudoun County library patron Loren Kropat testified as to sites she found blocked using a public Internet terminal on which X-Stop was installed at the Purcellville, Virginia, library on July 25 and September 2, 1998. Among them were a Washington, DC, gay-interest event-information site (; a profile of Edinburgh (; the homepage of the Let's Have an Affair Catering company (; and—the Web site of Eyeland Opticians.

"The X-Stop Files: Déjà Voodoo," Censorware Project, 1999.
In 1999, well after a federal district court ruled the Internet-filtering policies of the Loudoun County libraries unconstitutional, the Censorware Project published this follow-up to "The X-Stop Files." "If you were the president of a censorware company spotlighted for its bad blocks," the authors wrote, ". . . If your product was then dragged into a lawsuit which hinged on whether or not you blocked innocent sites, would you redouble your efforts, to make sure it blocked only hardcore porn? Log On Data did just that, removing many of the bad blocks we, and the Loudoun county lawyers, called to its attention. At the same time, it introduced more blocks of innocent sites, so that a year later, the product is no better than it was."

Among these new blocks were the Web sites of Godiva Chocolatier (, and Fascinations (, a dealer of toys relating to physics—in both cases, most likely because "long ago and far away, their domain names belonged to porn sites." X-Stop blocked the home page of Redbook magazine, as its META description includes the word "sex." On account of supposed explicit sexual content, the filter also barred the academic sites "Sex Culture in Ancient China" (www.beijingnow .com/chun), which provided a scholarly history of sexology, and Wicked Pleasures (www., the site for a book on African-American sexuality. Other blocked health- and sex-related sites included the Medical Consumer's Advocate (; an informational site on massage therapy (; a site on alternative medicine (; a site on aphrodisiacs (, which stated, on its front page, that it did "NOT contain sexually explicit material" (Censorware's emphasis);, which sold books and videotapes promoting "clinical and educational sexual wisdom" and contained no nudity; C-Toons (, a Web comic serial—intended "to reinforce ‘safe sex' attitudes through humor—whose protagonist was a condom; and Darkwhisper, a site dedicated to "exploring the magic and mystery of sadomasochism" and carrying an adult warning prior to its front page but, according to Censorware, containing "serious text only, not unlike what one can find in many libraries" and hence "a good illustration of the lack of any meaningful human review" on X-Stop's part.

Nonpornographic sites relating to homosexuality were also blocked, including the home page of the Gay Pastor (, an ordained pastor whose stated mission is "to give [c]ounseling to all gays with regard to our personal adaptation to our new found [sic] lifestyle"; Pato Enterprises (, which "specializes" according to the report, "in web production and promotion for the (gay) travel industry"; Queer Korner Productions (, a site selling gay-themed items such as T-shirts and mugs; the personal home pages of a lesbian doctoral student ( and a gay New Jersey–based computer specialist (; and Movie Bear Cinema, which organized viewings of films such as Jurassic Park and Titanic for gay men (www.

Other blocked pages included the Web site of Home Sweet Loan, a mortgage firm whose URL (, the report suggested, led to the problematic block; the Thought Shop (, a site that at the time of Censorware's investigation contained a commentary opposing the Child Online Protection Act; a Web-graphics page called Digital Xtreme! (; Web sites for the recording artists Bombay June ( and Marilyn Manson (; a site posting weather forecasts for the Ardennes region of Belgium (; and a page in tribute to Gillian Anderson (, which counted no nude images among its photographs of the actress.

X-Stop also blocked every site hosted by the free Web page provider Xoom—a total, at the time of Déjà Voodoo's publication, of 4.5 million distinct sites. Also found blocked was the so-called "family-friendly" ISP Execulink, which rated its sites by the RSACi system, offered N2H2 BESS filtering at the server level, and designated the Focus on the Family Web site a "favorite" link.

Youth Access to Alcohol and Tobacco Web Marketing, Center for Media Education, Oct. 1999.
CME deemed X-Stop "the least effective filter at blocking promotional alcohol and tobacco content," for it did not block any of the selected alcohol- and tobacco-related promotional sites, and blocked just 4% of sites generated by searches for promotional terms.

"Analysis of first 50 URL's blocked by X-Stop in the .edu domain," Peacefire, Jan. 2000.
Peacefire detailed the first 50 .edu domains on X-Stop's block list as of January 17, 2000. Twenty-four of these, or 48%, were ruled "obvious errors," including a number of innocuous student home pages, a site for a contest in which the grand prize was a boat (—"Possibly X-Stop's MudCrawler was confused," Peacefire wrote, "by the phrase on the rules saying you had to be ‘18 years or older' to enter the drawing"—and the Web site of the Paper and Book Intensive ( ba/pbi.html), a summer program on the art of the book, papermaking, and conservation, offered by the University of Alabama's School of Library Information Studies. Ten additional URLs, 20% of the overall sample, were found to contain no pornography, but did feature some artistic nudity or harsh language, and were thereby judged "marginal errors."


1. Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844, 870 (1997), quoting ACLU v. Reno, 929 F. Supp. 824, 842 (E.D. Pa. 1996).

2. See Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 24 (1973). A federal district court ruled in 1998 that a public library board's use of X-Stop violated the First Amendment rights of both library patrons and online publishers. Mainstream Loudoun v. Board of Trustees of Loudoun County Library, 24 F. Supp. 2d 552 (E.D. Va. 1998).

3. Both the ALA and the ACLU filed suit challenging the portion of CIPA that applied to libraries. As of fall 2001, that lawsuit was pending in federal district court in Philadelphia.

4. "AOL Deploys RuleSpace Technology Within Parental Controls," press release, AOL Corporate, May 2, 2001; see

5. These last 3 pages, the report noted, were not filtered because of an automatic ban on the keyword "breast," but were evidently reviewed and deemed indecent by a BESS employee: "In our tests, we created empty pages that contained the words breast and breast cancer in the titles, to test whether BESS was using a word filter. The pages we created were accessible, but the previous three sites about breast cancer were still blocked."

6. Bennett Haselton, "Study of Average Error Rates for Censorware Programs," Peacefire, Oct. 23, 2000.

7. Peter Nickerson, testimony, House Subcom. on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection, Sept. 11, 1998.

8. "N2H2 Launches Online Curriculum Partners Program, Offers Leading Education Publishers Access to Massive User Base," press release, N2H2, Sept. 6, 2000,; "Cyber Patrol Tells COPA Commission that Market for Internet Filtering Software to Protect Kids is Booming," press release, SurfControl, July 20, 2000,

9. Bonnie Rothman Morris, "Teenagers Find Health Answers with a Click," New York Times, Mar. 20, 2001, F8.

10. In a subsequent article, the Censorware Project reported that Cyber Patrol had refused to unblock Deja News, despite its frequent use as a research resource for people ranging from Wallace himself to filtering advocate David Burt. "Cyber Patrol and Deja News," Censorware Project, Feb. 17, 1998,

11. Wallace added that the blocking of this site, "long removed from the Web, raises questions about the frequency with which the Cyber Patrol database is updated."

12. Hunter obtained this information from, which documents the most frequent searches on a variety of popular search engines. Hunter, 49.

13. David Burt, "ALA touts filter study whose own author calls flawed," press release, Filtering Facts, Feb. 18, 2000,

14. "‘CyberNOT' search engine," Peacefire, n.d.,; Lisa Bowman, "Filtering programs block candidate sites," ZDNet News, Nov. 8, 2000,,6061,2651471-2,00.html.

15. John Leyden, "Porn-filter disabler unleashed," The Register, Dec. 19, 2000. The SurfControl representative also wrote, "We should be grateful if The Register would adopt a policy of allowing companies, such as ourselves, the opportunity to respond in full before going to press." "Astonishing," Cullen commented. "Cyber Patrol blocked The Register without informing us, or giving us a chance to respond in full, or at all."

16. "CYBERsitter Examined," Peacefire, 2000.

17. Chris Oakes, "Censorware Exposed Again," Wired News, Mar. 9, 2000,,1282,34842-2,00.html

18. Internet Guard Dog,; review of Internet Guard Dog,,8827,254405,00.html.

19. Net Shepherd Press release, Dec. 1997.

20. Secure Computing, "Education and the Internet: A Balanced Approach of Awareness, Policy and Security," white paper, 1999.

21. "Censorware Project unequivocally confirms accuracy of SmartFilter in State of Utah Education Network," press release, Secure Computing, June 18, 1999.

22. David Burt, "Study of Utah School Filtering Finds ‘About 1 in a Million' Websites Wrongly Blocked," Filtering Facts, Apr. 4, 1999.

23. SurfWatch promotional material,

24. Jim Tyre, post on, May 14, 1999.

25. This claim no longer appears on the X-Stop Web site, but was quoted in the intervenors' complaint in Mainstream Loudou, v. Board of Trustees of Loudoun County Library, No. 97-2049-A (E.D. Va. Feb. 5, 1998).

26. Product information,

27. Product information,

28. Burt defined a "likely obscene" site as one featuring any of the following: "1) Photographs showing vaginal, anal, or oral penetration clearly visible; 2) Photographs of bestiality with penetration clearly visible; 3) Photographs of one person defecating or urinating onto another person's face."


Access Denied: The Impact of Internet Filtering Software on the Lesbian and Gay Community. New York: Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Dec. 1997.

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"Adam and Eve Get Caught in 'Net Filter." Wichita Eagle, Feb. 5, 1998.

Blacklisted by Cyber Patrol: From Ada to Yoyo [online]. Censorware Project, Dec. 22, 1997, <>.

Bowman, Lisa M. "Filtering programs block candidate sites" [online]. ZDNet News, Nov. 8, 2000, <,6061,2651471-2,00.html>.

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———. "Study of Utah School Filtering Finds ‘About 1 in a Million' Websites wrongly blocked" [online]. Lake Oswego, OR: Filtering Facts, Apr. 4, 1999, <>.

"Censorware Project unequivocally confirms accuracy of SmartFilter in State of Utah Education Network." Press release. San Jose: Secure Computing, June 18, 1999, <

Chelton, Mary K. Re: Internet Names and Filtering Software. In American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom newsgroup: [online]. Mar. 5, 1997; 15:17:31, <

Cullen, Drew. "Cyber Patrol unblocks The Register" [online]. London: The Register, Mar. 9, 2001, <>.

"Cyber Patrol and Deja News" [online]. Censorware Project, Feb. 7, 1998, <

"Cyber Patrol Tells COPA Commission that Market for Internet Filtering Software to Protect Kids is
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"Cybersitter Blocks The Ethical Spectacle" [online]. Press release. New York: Ethical Spectacle, Jan. 19, 1997, <>.

"Digital Chaperones for Kids," Consumer Reports, Mar. 2001, 20–25.

"Education and the Internet: A Balanced Approach of Awareness, Policy and Security." San Jose: Secure Computing, 1999.

Finkelstein, Seth. "SmartFilter's Greatest Evils" [online]. Nov. 16, 2000, <>.

———. "SmartFilter—I've Got a Little List" [online]. Dec. 7, 2000, <

"Gay sites netted in Cyber Patrol sting." Press release. New York: Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Dec. 19, 1997, <>.

Grimes, Ann, Nicole Harris, et al. "Digits: Expletive Deleted." Wall Street Journal, May 6, 1999, B4.

Hafner, Katie. "Library Grapples with Internet Freedom." New York Times, Oct. 15, 1998, G1, G8.

Hartocollis, Anemona. "Board Blocks Student Access to Web Sites: Computer Filter Hobbles Internet Research Work." New York Times, Nov. 10, 1999, B1, B8.

Haselton, Bennett. "Amnesty Intercepted: Global Human Rights Groups Blocked by Web Censoring Software" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, Dec. 12, 2000, <>. Reprinted in Filters and Freedom 2.0, Washington DC: Electronic Privacy Information Center, 2001, 79.

———. "Analysis of first 50 URL's blocked by I-Gear in the .edu domain" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, Mar. 2000, <>.

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———. "AOL Parental Controls error rate for the first 1,000 .com domains" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, Oct. 23, 2000, < first-1000-com-domains.html> .

———. "BabelFish blocked by censorware" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, Feb. 27, 2001, <www.peacefire. org/babelfish>.

———. "BESS error rate for 1,000 .com domains" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, Oct. 23, 2000, <>.

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———. "CYBERsitter: Where do we not want you to go today?" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, Nov. 5–Dec. 11, 1996, <>.

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———. "Sites blocked by ClickSafe" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, July 2000, < censorware/ClickSafe/screenshots-copacommission.html>.

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———. "SmartFilter Examined" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, 2000, <
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———. "SurfWatch Examined" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, 2000, <>.

———. "Teen Health Sites Praised in Article, Blocked by Censorware" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, Mar. 23, 2001, <>.

———. "X-Stop Examined" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, 1997–2000, <
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Haselton, Bennett, and Jamie McCarthy. "Blind Ballots: Web Sites of U.S. Political Candidates Censored by Censorware" [online]. Seattle, WA: Peacefire, Nov. 7, 2000, < blind-ballots>. Reprinted in Filters and Freedom 2.0, Washington DC: Electronic Privacy Information Center, 2001, 91.

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Klaver, Marie José. What does Cybersitter block? [online]. Amsterdam, June 23, 1998, <

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Mainstream Loudoun, et al. v. Board of Trustees of the Loudoun County Library (C.A. 97-2049A,
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ACLU memoranda, Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 1998.
Plaintiffs-intervenors' complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief, Feb. 5, 1998.

ACLU memoranda, June 17-23, 1998.

Karen Schneider, Plaintiffs' expert witness report, June 18, 1998.

David Burt, Defendants' expert witness report, July 14, 1998.
Michael Welles, Plaintiff's Expert Witness Report, Sept. 1, 1998.

Loren Kropat, Second declaration, Sept. 2, 1998.

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Morris, Bonnie Rothman. "Teenagers Find Health Answers with a Click." New York Times, March 20, 2001, F8.

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"Online Oddities and Atrocities Museum" [online]. San Francisco: Online Policy Group, n.d., <>.

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Passing Porn, Banning the Bible: N2H2's Bess in Public Schools [online] Censorware Project, 2000, <>.

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Schneider, Karen G. A Practical Guide to Internet Filters. New York: Neal-Schulman Publishers, 1997.

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Youth Access to Alcohol and Tobacco Web Marketing: The Filtering and Rating Debate. Washington, DC: Center for Media Education, Oct. 1999, <>.

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