ADL Socialist Censorship
Because, Boys and Girls, The ADL Big Brother Knows Best What Kids Should Know
From: Kevin Alfred Strom firstname.lastname@example.org 11/13/98 10:34
Subject: ADL Censorship.
Attached, unchanged and unedited, is a Reuters article on the ADL’s latest effort to stifle free speech.
I predict that the next step will be to push the use of this censorship software in public library computer terminals, and — even more ominously — to have it “preinstalled” on new PCs and browsers.
Kevin Alfred Strom.
—begin Reuters article—
ADL Filter: A “crossing guard” for Net hate
NEW YORK (Wired) – The Anti-Defamation League has announced the debut of HateFilter, a software program designed to block access to Web sites and newsgroups that denigrate individuals on the basis of what the ADL calls “immutable characteristics,” such as race, religion, and sexual orientation.
The software was developed with The Learning Company, the makers of CyberPatrol, an Internet filtering program that is widely used in homes, schools, businesses, and libraries to block access to sites deemed inappropriate by parents and employers.
“We are engaged in a full-blown battle against high-tech hate,” said ADL national chairman Howard Berkowitz in a statement. “Bigots are seducing our children with online messages presented in full-color animation with music and video…. Parents should be able to protect their children from hate by keeping bigotry and prejudice out of their homes.”
The ADL was founded in 1913 to fight anti-semitism. HateFilter (http://www.adl.org/hate-patrol/info/default.htm), which is available as a free download on the ADL’s Web site, is a customized version of CyberPatrol (http://www.cyberpatrol.com). Like CyberPatrol, HateFilter only blocks sites that have been added to its database manually by monitors who scrutinize sites for objectionable content.
Neither CyberPatrol nor HateFilter sifts out sites automatically by keyword. The appearance of the term “breast,” for instance, on a breast cancer information page, will not result in automatic blocking of the site.
HateFilter users can choose to block sites listed in the standard CyberPatrol database-the so-called CyberNOT list-and those in a special database compiled by the ADL.
Elizabeth Coleman, the ADL’s national director of civil rights, says “a team of people who are on their computers all day” is employed by the organization to patrol the Web for sites like the white supremacist RAHOWA Headquarters. (”Q: What starts out as a fruit, then turns into a vegatable sic, then turns into meat? A: Matthew Shepard.”) The ADL’s database will be updated weekly.
HateFilter adds a feature to CyberPatrol’s standard set: When a site is blocked, Net surfers are offered a menu of alternative “educational” sites. Someone who tried to access godhatesfags.com, for instance, would be directed to sites offering information about homophobia.
Certain racist and anti-semitic sites are specifically designed to attract children and young adults, Coleman says, such as the World Church of the Creator’s “Kids’ Page” (now offline) and sites devoted to the music of white supremacist bands. She calls HateFilter “a crossing guard for the information superhighway, to protect vulnerable kids who might be home alone and come across hate language.”
Coleman cautions that while the Internet provides unparalleled opportunities to “collapse distance, collapse time, and put us in touch with one another 24 hours a day,” the ability of netsurfers and webmasters to hide behind anonymity and pseudonyms makes the Net “a very dark place-a Petri dish for hate.”
CyberPatrol has come under fire from organizations as diverse as Reverend Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association, the Censorware Project, and Peacefire-a First Amendment youth group-for its blocking policies.
In a report published on its Web site in December 1977, the Censorware Project claimed CyberPatrol’s CyberNOT list included such sites as the MIT Project on Mathematics and Computation (blocked for “FullNude” and “SexActs”), the Deja News Usenet archive, and newsgroups like misc.headlines and talk.abortion. Some of the blocked sites were removed from the CyberNOT list after the report was published.
In June, the American Family Association found itself added to the CyberNOT list for “intolerance,” indicating that the blocked site contained language “advocating prejudice or discrimination against any race, color, national origin, religion, disability or handicap, gender, or sexual orientation.” Disputing the block, the AFA argued that such statements as “homosexuality and AIDS are inseparably connected” reflect a valid point of view, not intolerance. The site remains on the CyberNOT list.
David Burt, who runs a site called Filtering Facts, which advocates the use of filtering software in public libraries to screen out hardcore pornography, thinks HateFilter is “a good idea for parents, but a terrible idea for a library.”
Burt says the dispute between CyberPatrol and the AFA illustrates that “filtering for viewpoint”-rather than for, say, clearly sexual imagery-is “a slippery slope.”
“Just the fact of condemning homosexuality from a biblical perspective doesn’t make a site a hate site,” he says.
Because hate and intolerance are already filtering options for the standard version of CyberPatrol, Peacefire coordinator Bennett Haselton calls ADL’s customized HateFilter “a symbolic gesture.”
Haselton points out that while the ADL’s press release claims that HateFilter is “the first filter produced by a non-commercial organization,” another organization beat them to it: the Church of Scientology, which developed blocking software to prevent its members from reading sites and newsgroups critical of church policy.
Coleman stressed the fairness of the ADL’s monitoring policies. Two pro-Zionist sites, for instance-the Jewish Defense League and Kahane.org-are blocked for their use of vicious anti-Arab language.
“We do not filter out opinions,” she says. “Someone who thinks homosexuality is wrong is expressing an opinion. Someone who says homosexuals do not deserve to live is expressing hate. The language has to reach a certain level.
“It’s a very fine line.”