The INTERNET: Friend or Foe?

In Uncategorized by tfwm

Who would have thought that in a few short years, technology could transform a government project used to aid in simple communication into the most powerful paradigm shift in history?

The World Wide Web has become just that, a way to transfer any size or type of information throughout the entire planet in a matter of seconds. The Net is changing everything. Whether sending letters, going Christmas shopping, or doing homework, it can be done on-line. Any information that you can possibly imagine is available to someone with a PC and modem.

Unfortunately, along with this plethora of useful information comes a dark side to the Internet. The Information Superhighway has provided a medium for the explosion of many different areas, especially the pornography industry. Supermodels, Playboy centerfolds, and even housewives are making big money through opening their own sites on the Web. The perversions and addictions that have troubled mankind in the past have now been magnified by the Internet’s accessibility, attractiveness, and secretiveness. There are over 100,000 pornographic web sites with more than 200 new ones being added daily. Up to 30 million people log on to these pornographic web sites every day, making it a $1 billion industry in 1998.

Other problems also plague the Internet, including gambling, illegal information, pedophiles etc. From assembling a bomb, to cheating in school, to plotting a murder, the information is available and fairly easy to obtain.

Due to the volume of inappropriate material on the Internet, several companies have developed filtering technologies to counteract these problems.

There are basically two types of filtering methods used today. The first method is software-based and requires manual installation onto the users machine. The filtering software and a list of blocked sites are stored on the user’s computer. This was the first type of Internet filtering available to consumers. It can be slow, prone to software problems, and it’s difficult to keep current.

Most blocking software programs for home use – Cyber Patrol, SurfWatch, Net Nanny – are inexpensive and can often be downloaded for free over the Internet. However, it is possible to bypass this filter by moving files around or by uninstalling the software altogether. Information that instructs users on how to disable software-based filters is readily available on the Internet.

This software often requires the user to update the blocked site database.

The second type of filtering method is ‘server’ based, meaning that any objectionable material has been filtered before it ever reaches the personal computer. Server-based filtering is usually located on an Internet Service Provider’s network. This type of filtering requires no maintenance from the computer user and is virtually impossible to circumvent. Unlike software-based filtering, server-based filtering prevents the user’s information from being gathered by any web site they visit, thus reducing junk mail. In addition, server based filtering acts as a blanket of security for the end user by providing a firewall (protective wall) between the user and the Internet.

There are several Internet Service Providers that offer server-based filtering. Nationwide filtered access is available through companies such as Anaxis Internet, Integrity Online, and Safeplace.net. For more information about Internet filtering, visit the web www.filteringfacts.org

David Lukas and Matt Haas are Operations and Marketing Directors for Anaxis Internet. Mr. Lukas and Mr. Haas can be reached at david@anaxis.net and matt@anaxis.net, respectively.