Reprinted from www.libertylobby.org, home of The SPOTLIGHT archive
Internet Censorship Creating Controversy
The Cambridge, Mass.-based Learning Company, one of the nation's most successful computer software firms, is gearing up to face a public relations disaster.
First Amendment advocates and Internet users have learned that it's the Learning Company that collaborated with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai B'rith in a comprehensive scheme to censor the Internet.
Susan Getgood, a spokesperson for the Learning company, admitted to The SPOTLIGHT that the company worked with the ADL in the production of a software (known as "HateFilter") designed to block access to Internet websites of which the ADL does not approve.
Hatefilter is just now being released onto the market. The ADL is behind a major public relations campaign promoting the censorship software.
"We are pleased to assist the ADL in its continuing battle against hate and bigotry in all forms, including its latest incarnation in cyberspace," said Richard A. Gorgens, vice president of Advanced Technology for the Internet Solutions Group of the Learning Company.
When someone who has the program signs onto one of the "offensive" sites targeted by the ADL, the HateFilter program will block it with a message explaining why and then refer the user to the ADL's own web site.
Although The SPOTLIGHT's web site (www.libertylobby.org) is not one of the web sites censored by basic "Cyber Patrol" package assembled by the Learning Company, it is among those included for censorship in the ADL's customized "HateFilter" version of Cyber Patrol.
Wile no one can argue with an individual's right to use the software on his or her home computer, the big problem is that the ADL is engaging in a heavy- duty lobbying campaign to force public (and Private) school systems at all levels to integrate the software into their computer programs that students use for research.
Additionally, the ADL is using a variety of front groups to lobby Congress to require that Internet censorship be mandatory for federally-funded programs that provide for computer education and training in public schools.
This way, only ADL-approved information will be accessible to students using the Internet.
Critics of the deal between the ADL and the Learning Company are urging Internet users and others who value the First Amendment to boycott the Learning Company's product which are sold in over 23,000 retail stores in North America.