A young reader writes:
“Hey Dave! I’m trying to explore tons of web sites to see how they’re built and keep bumping into restrictions because my folks installed a “nannyfilter” on my computer. Is there some way to get around it so I can make my own decision of what sites to visit?”
This is a bit of a tricky question to answer, because on the one hand, if you don’t want to have the filter, you should talk to your parents about having it removed, or reducing its level of filtering aggression. On the other hand, if you’re already sufficiently engaged to be reading books on HTML and web site design, maybe you can handle some of the more prurient and offbeat sites online. And after all, I don’t know that it’s my place to decide what you should view or not anyway.
So read my answer here at your own discretion: If you want to learn about ways to circumvent nanny filters and otherwise sidestep any sort of censorship software, there’s no better place to check out than Peacefire.org, run by my friend Bennett Haselton. He says that the mission of the group is to “support free speech rights for Internet users who are under 18 years old” and to “publish techniques for circumventing Internet censorship.” Visit the site, read what’s there, then take a deep breath and ask yourself if that’s the path you really want to travel. If it is, then good luck to you!
The flip side of the equation: if you want to learn more about how to keep track of what sites your kids (or employees) visit, then visiting safetysurf.com, run by another friend of mine, Joel Comm, is a good first step. Joel offers information on his site about more than just Internet filtering, though, he also talks about Internet monitoring and parental control solutions. Worth checking out, even if you think “information wants to be free”.
And, amusingly enough, Joel and Bennett are friends. 🙂