Filtering The World Wide Web

anti-pornoChina is in the news because of the  “Green Dam-Youth Escort” software which was developed by two government-linked Chinese companies to help parents keep children from seeing pornography on the Internet. The Chinese government sent notice to all PC makers to include the software with all PCs sold in China starting July 1, 2009. As the plan of filtering the world wide web reached Chinese users, some contributors to online forums described it as a noble effort, but many voiced other concerns.

First and foremost of all concerns is the question of “Who is going to decide and make judgment about which Web sites are ‘bad’?”. Others worry that the program could be used to collect private user data — and this is technically possible. “It’s already hard to have privacy on the Internet and this could make things worse.” is another comment made on the move of China to have the filtering software installed on every PC that will be sold to its citizens by next month.

Many of us are unaware but there is also such a kind of move in our legislature. In the guise of preventing child pornography, punishing the perpetrators of the despicable crime and protecting the child online, Senate Bill 2317 has in its Section 8 a provision that says “All Internet Service Providers (ISPs) shall install available technology, program or software to ensure that access to or transmittal of Child Pornography will be blocked or filtered.”

Lest I be misunderstood of being against the proposed Child Anti-Pornography Act of 2008, let me categorically state that I am NOT against it. My blog post on Porno Surfing at Cafés will bear me on this. It is only the provision in Section 8 that I quoted above which must raise concern on anybody using the Internet. If China which is known for its strict laws and regulations only wants anti-pornography filtering software to be installed in every computer that will be sold in its country, why will a democratic country like the Philippines impose such filtering at the level of the Internet Service Providers. Imagine the threat of such move to every Filipino’s freedom of choice and possible invasion of his privacy.

By the way, let me also say that filtering pornographic sites is not new to café owners. There are already many local ordinances mandating computer rental shops to block pornographic sites and many other internet café owners are voluntarily doing it. The issue I am driving at is should the filtering be done by the ISPs? Let us hear your opinions about this issue. This is a concern of everyone using the world wide web.

NOTE: Your comments are welcome here but you may wish to proceed to Café Forum for your questions and comments.

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