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Group Filters Hate on Internet

November 12, 1998

BOSTON (AP) _ The Internet has been a boon to hate groups.

Log on and you can find hundreds of Web sites that promote white supremacy, deny the Holocaust and promulgate prejudice.

Fearing that children were particularly vulnerable targets for hatemongers, the Anti-Defamation League unveiled a new software program Wednesday designed to help parents filter bigotry out of their computers.

While there are dozens of other Internet blockers available, ``HateFilter″ does more than just restrict access to a bigoted site. It steers the user to the ADL’s own home page, which tries to counter the messages of hate.

In the past, hate groups would get their messages out with pamphlets distributed on street corners. These days, ``they can reach millions and millions of people quickly, easily and very inexpensively,″ said Howard Berkowitz, national chairman of the ADL, which is holding its annual meeting in Boston this week.

The software, which can be purchased for about $30 a year, filters specific Web sites rather than weeding out material using certain key words.

For example, if the ADL tried to block hate groups using the word ``Nazi,″ it would end up barring historical information about the Holocaust.

The ADL plans to update the software each week to block access to new Web pages or old ones that change their addresses.

Some fear that filters can weed out too much information and set dangerous precedents for defining objectionable material.

``This is necessarily subjective,″ said David L. Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an Internet civil liberties group in Washington. ``The problem becomes the question of who makes these decisions and does a parent really want to delegate that decision-making process to some third party?″


EDITORS: The ADL’s HateFilter can be downloaded from the ADL Web site at www.adl.org.

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