SurfWatch Incorporates Weapons Filter

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Internet filtering and software security company JSB Software Technologies PLC, Los Gatos, CA, announced this week that its SurfWatch division is incorporating new, expanded filtering criteria into its SurfWatch Software product, which the company said will block users from accessing virtually all Web sites selling weapons and other firearms.

Last month, the company began restricting access to what it said were "sites that primarily sell guns, weapons, ammunition or poisonous substances and sites that allow online purchasing or order information, including lists of prices and dealer locations." But JSB said that its new updates will block "any page or site predominantly containing or providing links to content related to the sale of guns, weapons, ammunition or poisonous substance."

Alexandra Salomon, director of content management for SurfWatch Software, said the company's "decision to block these sites was made in response to requests from parents and educators who are concerned about violence in schools and the effect that the Web might play in enabling kids to obtain weapons."

SurfWatch said it has compiled statistics showing there are more than 5,000 Web sites related to the retail sale of firearms, explosives and weapons ammunition products. The company claims the number of Web sites it has blocked in the violence category increased 22 percent in the past nine months.

SurfWatch said by comparison that sexually explicit Web sites increased 16 percent in the same nine-month period.

In 1997, SurfWatch formed an advisory committee to review and publish information for consumers detailing the criteria it uses in blocking Web sites. Originally the company only blocked subject matter in four general categories: drugs and alcohol, gambling, sexually explicit subject matter and violence.

In April of 1998, the company added a hate-speech filter.

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