24. What is ROC's opinion on internet filtering devices?

We are opposed to any calls for mandatory filtering systems on any public computer system. While filtering systems are preferable to legislation like the Communications Decency Act, any attempts for government to mandate the use of filtering systems to restrict access to certain material would be completely unconstitutional.

The biggest problem with filtering systems is that the software companies that produce them often will not reveal the criteria they use in their programming for determining what gets blocked and what does not. Research into the subject has determined that it is very common for sites to be blocked for political or social reasons that go far beyond the notion of stopping children from viewing pornography. In fact, the Rock Out Censorship website is block by at least two different filtering software programs. For more details on this aspect of the problems with filtering software, we urge you to visit and Specifically look through the Blocking Software FAQ on the site.

Given that these filtering programs block a tremendous amount of material that is fully protected by the US Constitution, there is no way the government can justify mandating their use on any public computer systems. We do support the rights of individual people to use these programs on their own computer systems, but urge people to demand that these software companies provide access to the criteria used for blocking sites, just so you will know exactly what is a work behind the filtering process.

We reject the notion that any policies to mandate the use of filtering software would serve to protect anyone from anything, but instead are tools for controlling the free flow of constitutionally protected information and material. By limiting the access of information and what one can view and one cannot view, government officials display a profound example of an abuse of power and an infringement of First Amendment rights.

Supporters claim that the filtering devices prohibit the access to pornography websites. The reality is that the software operates on a keyword search that not only blocks the intended adult sites, but also many important educational websites dealing with abortion, AIDS, breast cancer, and even fine art so that they all become forbidden material. It is quite common for sites to be tagged as forbidden on the basis of political beliefs as well, and the criteria for what gets blocked is rarely released by the blocking software manufacturers. It is our position that policies mandating the use of blocking software only serve to create a sad societal condition touting ignorance as bliss, and interferes with the educational opportunity the internet presents. It is not the government’s right or role to make such content decisions for the public.

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