Wednesday, November 15, 2006

How much of the internet is pornography?

The US government participated in a study which has concluded that about 1% of internet pages contain pornography. The study also evaluated methods of blocking minors' access to porn, and found that content filters are the most effective way to block pornography. They work between 89 and 98% of the time.

The study is significant because it validates a US Supreme Court decision from 2004 that overturned the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which Clinton had signed into law. The act required pornographic websites to get a credit card number before people could access the sites, in theory to verify age. But the problem with this act was that it could only apply to US companies, not overseas ones. It created a substantial burden on adults wanting to access those websites while not doing much to protect children.

The Supreme Court upheld a law in 2000 that required libraries receiving federal funding to install filters on their computers, which makes much more sense as a law.

This is interesting:

"About 6 percent of searches yield at least one explicit Web site, he [Phillip B. Stark, the California professor who oversaw the study] said, and the most popular queries return a sexually explicit site nearly 40 percent of the time."

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