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I-Gear Examined

When members of a fundamentalist church failed to convince the local prosecutor in Santa Clara County, CA to arrest librarians for providing unfiltered Internet access, they turned to advocating blocking software instead. At the meeting of the Santa Clara Joint Powers Authority board in October 1997, members of "Keep Internet Decent and Safe (KIDS)" recommended I-Gear to be installed on the county's library terminals.

I-Gear is used in many schools, particularly in Virginia where its manufacturer, Unified Research Laboratories, is based, but has not been used by libraries in any high-profile cases.

The KIDS proposal to install I-Gear was ultimately voted down by the Joint Powers Authority board. Before they made their decision, Peacefire faxed them a list of sites that we knew to be blocked by I-Gear, including:

We anticipated that many of these sites would be unblocked by I-Gear after this information was faxed to the Joint Powers Authority board. To prevent URLabs from claiming that these sites had never been blocked, we gave this list of sites to Wired reporter Todd Lappin before publishing them. Mr. Lappin verified that the sites above were blocked at the time we sent our fax to the JPA.

Some sites were blocked when Peacefire first tested I-Gear, but were not blocked by the time Mr. Lappin tested the produt:

I-Gear's policy is to locate "bad sites" using a customized Web crawler which certains for keywords and word patterns, and sites are often added to their list without being viewed first by a human.

More articles in the news about I-Gear