Nettime's_roving_reporter on Wed, 28 Jul 1999 23:16:10 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> God is my (virtual) copilot

NYT, July 28, 1999


A New Breed of ISP Emerges: Filtered

A new breed of Internet service provider is emerging to serve the needs of
parents and others who want access to an Internet free of pornography,
bomb-making information, hate advocacy and other perceived ills. They are
called "filtered ISPs," and they exist to make it easy for families and
others to keep arguably objectionable material off their computer screens. 

Most are small and it is hard to find one that has been around longer than
three years. But their existence was thrown into the spotlight last week
with two high-profile developments. Last Monday, The Wall Street Journal
reported that Tim Robertson, son of the evangelist Pat Robertson, planned
to start a filtered ISP in the fall, possibly with backing from AT&T. Then
on Wednesday a separate group held a news conference in Washington, D.C.,
to launch a new filtered online service called 

"We've identified a very large market for this service," said Robertson,
who added that consumers "are very, very concerned about the proliferation
of unwanted and predatory type of activity on the Internet." 

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Robertson, the former chief executive
of The Family Channel, said the new service,, would launch
in September, and that the company was in final negotiations to receive
about $10 million in backing from AT&T. A spokesman for AT&T declined to

Robertson said the company would target a general family -- though not
necessarily religious -- clientele. "This is for families," he said, adding
"we don't care what religion they are."

There are at least two dozen filtered ISPs in the United States, according
to Liza Kessler, staff counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based Center for
Democracy and Technology, which recently conducted a survey of ventures
offering Internet control tools for parents.

What the ventures have in common is that the Internet access they provide
is designed to block potentially offensive material, including pornography,
bomb-making recipes or hate messages -- and in some cases, sites containing
such things as tasteless humor or models wearing lingerie.

Those who run the services say they are a safer bet than blocking software
installed on home computers, because they are not as easy for clever
youngsters to circumvent.

Many of the services were started by people from religious, and
particularly evangelical Christian, backgrounds. One of the better known
filtered ISPs, for example, is Integrity Online, started by Richard V.
Jones, the pastor of a church outside Portland, Ore. Jones said he launched
the ISP in 1996, after he became disturbed by reports from parishioners
about the availability of pornography online.



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