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 Posted Sunday, December 13, 1998

Traditional Enemies of Free Speech spreading their Hidden and Suffocating Hold Across the Net
The Cyber Patrol controversy


Friday, December 11, 1998

Does Cyber Patrol have political agenda? Large Christian Internet site blocked as 'intolerant'

By Stephan Archer

THE LEARNING COMPANY, one of the world's largest publishers of children's educational software, has been selling a new software program to parents and teachers that effectively blocks "intolerant" sites on the Internet, but some say that the program has unfairly pegged a large, Christian site as being intolerant.

The means by which TLC is denying access to such "intolerant" sites is through their Internet screening software known as Cyber Patrol. Cyber Patrol is a tool with which parents and teachers make decisions concerning what constitutes inappropriate Internet content for children.

However, the decisions that can be made by parents and teachers using the software is limited, for not even purchasers of the software are given access to the list of sites that Cyber Patrol considers to be intolerant.

"We don't publish the list," said Susan Getgood, the director of corporate communications at TLC.

The only way for the software user to get information about Cyber Patrol's intolerant sites is to go to Cyber Patrol's web site. There, if they know the exact URL of the web site in question, they can type it in and find out the site's status. If they don't have the exact URL, the system won't work.

The Christian site that has been identified as "intolerant" by TLC's software is the American Family Association's web site -- an organization which, along with a strong pro-family agenda, takes a stance opposing homosexuality.

The concern that TLC had with AFA's web site, according to AFA's public relations director Allen Wildmon, had to do with a report on the web site about homosexuality that was written by Dr. Richard Howe, a professor at the University of North Carolina. In this report were two or three sentences, said Wildmon, that TLC's Cyber Patrol considered to be "intolerant."

Because Cyber Patrol found the content in this section of the report to be "intolerant," the AFA went through a one-step appeal process with Cyber Patrol's CyberNOT Oversight Committee. This committee consists of a group of members who come from different political, social and civic organizations. These organizations include the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Morality in the Media, women's rights groups, teachers' unions, social workers, a minister, and a psychologist. Currently, the committee meets every two months.

In the appeal, the AFA not only agreed to take the section out of the report but also argued that many homosexual activist groups use various types of intolerant language, such as the term "hate mongers," to describe the AFA. Yet, these groups aren't put on the CyberNOT list. Despite its objections, the AFA was not removed from Cyber Patrol's CyberNOT list.

"The language in the report was not hate language by anyone's standards," said Wildmon who wanted to make it very clear that the AFA does not hate homosexuals. "There's no doubt in our minds that it was the subject matter, not the content of the report, that got us onto the CyberNOT list in the first place."

When Getgood was asked by WorldNetDaily whether or not she believed that this banning of the AFA's web site could be seen by some as religious intolerance, she responded, "I can't speak for other people."

Religious intolerance or not, other Christian web sites have been blocked by Cyber Patrol. One of them is a web site by Quiet Thunder. This organization describes itself as "a graphically evangelical ministry." It consists of cartoons that are drawn by Mike Purcell that have an underlining Christian theme. Although the web site checks out on the Cyber Patrol web site, it is effectively blocked when the Cyber Patrol software is loaded onto a computer.

>>>> Due to this labeling of intolerance against the AFA and other Christian sites by TLC's screening software, various people and groups at the grass-roots level are asking others to join them in the boycott of TLC by not purchasing any products made by TLC or its subsidiaries.

These products include "Sesame Street," Compton Encyclopedias, Printmaster, Print Shop, Schoolhouse Books, Reader Rabbit, Carmen Sandiego, The Munchers and others. Subsidiaries' names under which TLC sells products include Broderbund Software, Compton's Learning, Mindscape, Springboard Software and Creative Wonders.

One of the organizations taking part in the boycott is the ChildCare Action Project (CAP). Thomas Carder, president of CAP, believes that it is anti-constitutional to block Christian sites in this manner while allowing access to homosexual and anti-family sites.

"I believe it's an inversion of the freedom of speech," Carder said. "It seems that Cyber Patrol is being intolerant of those that they claim to be 'intolerant'."

Terry Graham, a self-employed management consultant and political activist, says that the word about the boycott is spreading in true grass-roots fashion -- through e-mails and telephone calls. Graham believes strongly in the boycott movement because as a strict constitutionalist, she believes that TLC's blockade of sites such as the AFA is a direct violation of the First Amendment.

"I look at this as a free speech issue and Internet intervention issue," she said.

One group that has been informed about the boycott through e-mails and phone calls is the Council for Conservative Citizens, a group that consists of more than 15,000 members spread out among every state in the Union plus six foreign countries. Gordon Lee Baum, the administrator and CEO of the group, said that he finds the AFA ban by TLC's Cyber Patrol to be very disturbing and plans to alert all who are part of the group. "We plan to alert our members through our newspaper and newsletter and to urge them to participate in the boycott," Baum said.

Paul Fromm, the director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, said he believes that what TLC has done to the AFA by blocking their web site via their Cyber Patrol software program is wrong as well. Although Fromm's group isn't taking an active part in the boycott, they're making sure that other people are aware of the issue.

"We say to people that this is a form of censorship carrying out the agenda of some rather sinister interest groups," Fromm said. "I don't think most of our supporters would be in favor of this software screening out Christian sites from young people."

"I think it's a major step when we start to block groups because of such things as intolerance," said Dave Schuman, an education activist who also reported to WorldNetDaily that among the education Internet loop, news of the boycott is spreading fast. "It's 'thought police.' That's what we're talking about here," Schuman said.

Karen Anderson, managing editor of the Calistoga Citizen, is another activist that is taking part in the boycott. As a parent of home schools, she's very upset by the action that TLC has taken against the AFA and other Christian web sites. "As a parent of home schools, I can't and won't purchase any materials or products from a company that is against traditional family values," she said.

Although the AFA doesn't like the fact that they are being blocked by Cyber Patrol, they aren't taking any active part in the boycott. "We do believe in their (Cyber Patrol's) First Amendment right to block our web site," said Wildmon.

When Getgood was asked if she had any previous knowledge of the boycott attempt currently taking place at the grassroots level, she replied that until she was informed by WorldNetDaily about the boycott, she had no previous knowledge of the subject.

© 1998
ADL® logoPaul Fromm, Director of the Canadian Association for Free Expression, comments:

In the above article Stephen Archer failed to note that one of America's premier censorship groups, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith and the Learning Co. co-operatively developed CyberPatrol.

Free SpeechWE HAVE BEEN informed that, following the lead taken in Florida and other states, the Anti-Defamation League's pernicious Cyber Patrol software has been secretly installed on NEW HAMPSHIRE state computers as well as those in all library and school computers in that state, effectively blocking access to this web site as well as those of the IHR and CODOH and other organs of Real History.

BUT: clear-thinking students and citizens will simply go elsewhere, and log onto our sites to find out what the ADL does not want them to read; this will, in the end, increase Anti-Semitism
(which is the last thing the ADL wants, right?)

Recent papers on this topic by friend and foe:

Further late news on Attempts to Suppress Internet Free Speech

Lewis D., of Olympia, Washington State, a patron of the Timberland Regional Library in Washington State reports to us: "Mr. Irving, I use a Netscape system at the library. When I type in your [URL] using Yahoo they send me to the Nizkor Project." [The Nizkor project is a Jewish financed, Canada-based Website desdigned to smear Real History.]

We also draw attention to the attempted suppression of free speech by B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission, of 99 Hotham Rd., Balaclava, Victoria 3183, Australia. See their report, "Racism On The Internet".

A military collectibles store in New Hampshire, USA, reports: "We have a customer who used to routinely access our web site from his office during his lunch break. Recently his company installed a software blocking program which will not allow any computer in their company intranet to access any Website which deals with a World War II theme. When he tried to visit our website he received a message "Forbidden access" and he was later called into his manager's office and told that these websites are off limits. He can still however access adult oriented web sites and websites like Nizkor and the JDL [Jewish Defence League, a body until recently listed by the FBI as a terrorist organisation]. The fellow is not a revisionist, but rather a history buff and W.W.II memorabilia collector."

On September 15, 1998 William Thoreau of Florida wrote us this about his Webpage on Cyber Thought Police: "I have some evidence that the ADL is behind the censoring of webpages for CyberPatrol. They are the ones who use feminist, homosexuals and blacks as a front so they can do their own band of censoring. I thought most people are sophisticated enough to realize whose behind it. Sometimes its best not to spell it all out -- it forces reader to think!" Thoreau asked I also ask CyberPatrol when they were going to filter out the most offensive site on the Internet namely that of the Jewish Defense Organization site (see, since they did not hesitate to censor the American Family Association, David Duke and other sites with views they opposed.

Now read this press release: "Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) releases a new Watchmen Report" New Internet censorship report released August 27, 1998 By newsgroup "uk.politics.censorship"

From: (Yaman Akdeniz) LEEDS - Today the Leeds based Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) published the second in the series of its Who Watches the Watchmen reports. The new report entitled as "Accountability & Effective Self-Regulation in the Information Age" is available through the organisation's new web site at This new report describes the new developments since the publication of the initial Who Watches the Watchmen report in November 1997 in a critical and analytical way; provides assistance to the government agencies for the review of the Internet Watch Foundation; and reviews the IWF consultation document on rating systems. Mr. Yaman Akdeniz, director of the organisation stated that:

"November 97 seems like a long time ago but there has been so many developments that another report was needed to create public awareness of what the government is up to with Internet regulation within the UK. This report is ironically rated 18 as its conclusions may 'deprave and corrupt' the readers and regulators and may lead them to take a more liberal approach into Internet regulation."

This second report questions the current solutions offered at various foras such as the development of rating and filtering systems and further the report suggests that these may not be the real answers and solutions for the existence problems. Professor Clive Walker, deputy director of the organisation stated that:

"A clear and present danger to Internet liberty arises from the terms on which self regulation is made available to the individual. The Watchmen report explains that danger. Government censorship has not gone away but is perhaps becoming more subtle and insidious."

Yaman Akdeniz added that:

"Government inspired and enforced pre-censorship is no more different than government-imposed censorship. Such restrictions and complex regulations would make Britain, like any other jurisdiction that goes too far, a very hostile place for network development."

Notes for the Media

The new home of Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) is at <> but until a complete move is completed, the pages will continue to be available through

This press release is available through

The second Watchmen report is available at:

The initial Watchmen report (November 97) is available at:

See also the Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) CensorWare pages for further information at

Right to Reply: Your comments and views on the Internet Watch Foundation Proposals for Developing Rating Systems for the Internet at a UK level at

Mr Yaman Akdeniz Address:
Centre For Criminal Justice Studies,
University of Leeds,
LS2 9JT.


Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) is a non-profit civil liberties organisation founded on January 10, 1997. Its main purpose is to promote free speech and privacy on the Internet and raise public awareness of these important issues. The Web pages have been online since July 1996. Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) started to become involved with national Internet-related civil liberties issues following the release of the DTI white paper on encryption in June 1996 and the Metropolitan Police action to censor around 130 newsgroups in August 1996.

Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) recently criticised the attempts of the Nottinghamshire County Council to suppress the availability of the JET Report on the Internet. Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) covers such important issues as the regulation of child pornography on the Internet and UK Government's encryption policy. The organisation provides up-to-date information related to free speech and privacy on the Internet. Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) is a member of various action groups on the Internet and also a member of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign (see <>) which has over 30 member organisations world wide.

In November 1997, Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) launched a new report entitled, Who Watches the Watchmen, on the implications of the use and development of rating systems and filtering tools for the Internet content. The report insists that the debates on regulation of Internet-content should take place openly and with the involvement of public at large rather than at the hands of a few industry based private bodies.

In February 1998, Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK) produced the Global Internet Liberty Campaign member statement which criticised the possible introduction of "key escrow" or "key recovery" systems for the regulation of encryption services in the UK. The statement signed by 22 organisations world-wide concluded that "mandatory key recovery policies would make Britain a second-class nation in the Information Age."

Then there's this April 17, 1998 story in the Salt Lake City Tribune

Web Sex Sites: Public School Logs Show Denied Hits


Not every Utah student who goes into the school computer lab has academics in mind. Not surprisingly, many are more interested in sex.

Tracking logs from the Utah Education Network (UEN), which serves as the hub of all public school computer activity, show that in February, students had tried more than 259,000 times to access Internet sites that were sexual in nature. Parents should not despair, though. Those numbers represent the times students tried -- and were denied access.

UEN has a filtering program in place that keeps students from seeing information on those sites. In fact, the majority of Utah students are using school computers and the Internet appropriately, said Don Porter, manager of network information at UEN. Monthly logs show that through March, Utah students had made almost 53 million trips to Internet sites to help them with everything from science projects to history lessons. Porter said that by the end of the school year he expects to have reached 60 million hits, a significant one-year jump.

Last April, students had accessed the World Wide Web less than 10 million times. Porter will report that information today to members of the state School Board during its monthly meeting in Salt Lake City. UEN contracts with a national company, Secure Computing, which filters unwanted information.

The company blocks information that fits into five categories: anything related to criminal skills, drugs, hate speech, gambling and sex.

The service, which costs the company as much as $20,000 annually, provides UEN with a sort of ``blacklist'' of sites that is updated weekly. While students try to access sites related to all those topics, the logs at UEN clearly show that anything of a sexual nature has the most allure for students. In February, there were 259,144 hits in the "sex" category, compared with 6,789 tries for sites related to criminal skills, 4,775 for gambling, 3,093 for drug-related sites and 897 for hate speech.

The figures represent the number of times students tried to access a certain topic and were denied. In January, there were 233,883 hits in the sex category, 6,289 for criminal skills, 4,817 for gambling, 3,338 for drugs and 1,240 for hate speech. While the figures represent a fraction of the total use, Porter acknowledges "it is not as small as I'd like to see it." Porter said about 90 percent of school computers are hooked up to the filter. The remaining 10 percent are in the process of joining.

The program makes a list of every Internet attempt made. It logs the school and the computer, the date and time and the site a student tries to access. It also indicates if the site is accepted, denied or not rated. UEN staff members go through the logs daily, looking for patterns -- especially in cases where there are several denied requests at one school or computer. Those are referred to the districts.

"I can't guarantee that I can block every site. But I can guarantee if you are consistently looking for that information you leave a fingerprint in my log files that someone can notice," Porter said.

While the filter keeps most students from most pornography or unwanted material, the popularity of the Internet means new sites are added daily and it is tough to keep up. In fact, in a written report given to the school board before its meeting, UEN showed a typical log.

One of the sites that a student reached was related to homosexuality. "Sites like the last one are examples of sites that perhaps should be filtered, but have not yet been rated and thus are not denied," the report noted. Porter and other district officials say their first line of defense is making sure students are always supervised. "If a student walks in there with a lot of spare time, they start playing and get curious," said Ron Andrews, the Internet specialist in the Nebo School District. The state already requires students to sign an acceptable use permit saying they will not try to send or receive any objectionable material. The agreement also is signed by parents.

© Copyright 1998, The Salt Lake Tribune
The above news item is reproduced without editing other than typographical
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