Still filtering after all these years
\"AOL\'s recent Internet filtering debacle, involving a list of permitted sites that appeared to have a strong conservative bias, underscored an important point. While the furor over Web filtering, once a rallying point for many free speech or \"free Web\" advocates, may have died down, filtering tools appear to be here to stay. And they\'re not getting much better. When a major ISP can block the Million Mom March site as unsuitable for children, it\'s clear there\'s still plenty of room for improvement.\"So, if filtering software has quietly become part of the Web, just how is it being used in our local schools and libraries? And is it working the way it\'s supposed to?
It turns out there\'s no real consensus out there among librarians and educators on which, if any, filtering software is the best. The Boston public libraries use the software of the Framingham-based company Cyber Patrol in their children\'s and young adult areas. \"It was the best filtering software at the time,\" says media relations manager Kate Shire. The Boston public school system, which offers a high-speed Internet connection in every school, uses Elron, a gift from the software company to the city. The Somerville public library uses Surfwatch. And the Cambridge public libraries avoid filtering software altogether. Not much of a surprise there.