July 17, 1997 in Nation/World

Agreement Pledges Family-Friendly Web

Newsday
 

The Clinton administration and computer industry officials Wednesday said they have reached a consensus on how to protect children from smut on the Internet without government regulation.

President Clinton said a White House meeting with industry officials and parents’ groups Wednesday has “paved a way to a family-friendly Internet without paving over the constitutional guarantees to free speech and free expression.”

For Clinton, the meeting’s results provide a method to protect children from explicit materials on the Internet after the Supreme Court last month ruled the 1996 Communications Decency Act was unconstitutional because it restricted free-speech rights.

The computer industry hopes that working with the administration will avoid new regulatory laws and calls from lawmakers for a V-chip for the Internet.

Instead, industry officials Wednesday offered to police themselves by providing greater access to software that blocks material unsuitable for children and work to identify family-friendly Internet sites.

“I am pleased to report that our industry has already made great strides,” said Steve Case, chairman of America Online, who was one of about 40 invited to the White House meeting.

“We are - today, right now - delivering tools that empower families, neighbors and educators to limit and filter what can be seen by, and sent to, our children.”

Clinton said that Netscape Communications has committed itself to add “family-friendly” controls to the next release of its Internet browser that will allow parents to select or block sites their children can see.

In addition, several search engines, including Yahoo, Excite and Lycos, committed to start asking Web sites to label or rate their content when applying for spots in their directories.

Clinton said the government will do its part by strictly enforcing existing anti-stalking, child pornography and obscenity laws as they apply to cyberspace.


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