The New York Times
Monday, January 19, 1998
A Tool That Filters the Web for Better or Worse
The World Wide Web Consortium has endorsed a technical standard
for filtering electronic information on the Web, called PICS.
The new standard is being cheered as a tool for concerned parents,
but at the same time it is being attacked by civil libertarians
as a means of censorship. Both descriptions may be accurate.
1. Children can find Web pages
that parents might rather they did not locate.
2. But with a PICS filter,
which can be built into the preferences of a browser,
children would only have access to pages that the filter's creators
tagged as being appropriate for kids.
3. Civil libertarians are concerned that filters
might be used by Internet service providers or whole countries
to censor what large groups of people can access on the Web.
Illustrations by Jody Emery / The New York Times
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Copyright © 1998 by The New York Times Company.
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Reprinted with permission.