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Internet Firms Plan Ways To Keep Kids From Adult Sites

Mon., Dec. 1, 1997

Several of the largest technology and media companies, eager to fend off new laws regulating the Internet, Monday will embrace a wide-ranging set of voluntary actions to prevent children from accessing adult-oriented material on the global computer network, industry executives say.

The companies plan a broad public-education campaign to encourage parents to use software that blocks out adult-oriented Internet sites. Some of the participating companies, including America Online Inc. and Walt Disney Co., also plan to release their own tools Monday for parents to screen Internet content.

The companies also are promising to work more closely with law enforcement officials in tracking pedophiles online.

These efforts represent a fresh overture to policy-makers from an industry that wants to prevent the fast-growing Internet from being regulated like television and radio. Although the U.S. Supreme Court on June 26 overturned the Communications Decency Act, a law that made it a crime to make “indecent” material available to minors over the Internet, a revised bill has been introduced in the Senate and similar measures are pending in several state legislatures.

“Regulation is not necessary,” said Steve Case, AOL’s chief executive. “We want to show that the interactive world is being proactive in building a medium we can all be proud of.”

The actions will be announced Monday at an online industry summit here. The three-day event, which will be attended by 400 business and government officials, was conceived in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, when President Clinton urged the computer industry to find other ways to make the Internet “family friendly.”

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