Gordon Ross: The Necessity of Internet Filtering; Internet Child Safety

This is the next interview in the continuing series of Computing Canada’s (CC) Blogged Down (BD) which is featured here “first” in the Canadian IT Managers (CIM) forum.

We began this blog series on September 15th, 2006. I continue my talk with Gordon Ross, Internet Filtering Pioneer, Biometrics / Security / Telecommunications / Ethics / Privacy Expert, Founder of Net Nanny; President of Virtual Perceptions Systems Inc.

Stephen: Can you expand the previous blogs discussion to include Internet Filtering?

Gordon: In 2000, I was told by many in the financial/investment community that the market for filtering products was dead. In today’s digital world, Internet Filtering has become more prevalent and necessary. Today its requirements are greater than they have ever been and it will continue to grow as more and more users come on board. You will see this technology being implemented into the cell phones and other portable communication devices. The vast amount of information we are being hit with is overwhelming. We need smarter and faster filtering engines and algorithms to filter out the stuff we do not want. Spam is just one of the problems. I only want to see the specific information that I want and not all the other data that may surround this information. The Net Nanny functionality was copied by many, but a lot of filters still treat their databases as proprietary. I have always been of the mindset that it is my machine and my data - just supply me with technology that allows me “total” control over it.

Stephen: You are a pioneer in Internet child safety. How would you characterize the gaps in this area?

Gordon: I believe far more should be spent on educating parents and children, let alone law enforcement. In the schools they should offer a mandatory class on Internet safety and practices. This medium, the Internet, is truly a wonderful thing for society as a whole. One of the major gaps is people believe that the wire coming into their home is different than the street that runs by their home. The wire offers far more dangers than the street. Another issue is we are seeing cases where the Internet (cyber world) becomes the world for kids versus the real world outside. The largest gap, I believe, is the lack of education and awareness that parents have in regards to what the Internet is and what it provides. It is truly a great medium for education, communication and information.

Stephen: What are the steps required to address these gaps? Who should take responsibility and what processes are necessary?

Gordon: One of the main steps is Education. Another is good parenting skills. The responsibility really lies upon the owners of the PC. In many cases, this is the parent. Even if the child owns the PC, it should be kept in an open space and not behind locked or closed doors. Parents have to be involved with their children and take on the responsibility of raising their children in this digital world. They have to explain that the dangers that exist in cyber space are the same as those that exist in their everyday world on the street. An example of this is: “Don’t talk to strangers”. Everyone on the Internet should be treated as a stranger unless you “personally” know them.

If the parent is not knowledgeable in these areas there are a lot of avenues for help. Local schools and some law enforcement personnel are available for educating parents on these subjects. A couple of good WEB Sites which are leaders in their fields are: http://www.wiredkids.org/ and http://www.getnetwise.org/

Stephen: Have you worked with Laura Chappell?

Gordon:  I know of Laura and her work but I have not personally worked with her. On the Internet safety side she offers a lot of course material for online safety and is another resource for people to look at. I have worked with others in this field such as Parry Aftab, (a cyberspace and privacy lawyer) and Sgt. Leanne Shirey of the Seattle Police Dept. She has over 25 years in Law enforcement and presents a course on The Internet and Your Child. Parry has been a strong proponent of safety on the Internet especially when it comes to children. I have also worked with other Law enforcement officials and agencies in these areas in the past. There are many organizations throughout the world today working in this field.

In the next blog, Gordon will discuss
his meetings with Sen. John McCain, the President and Vice President; speaking before the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Internet content, International Ratings, and self-regulation; and corporate responsibility.

I also encourage you to share your thoughts here on these interviews or send me an e-mail at sibaraki@cips.ca.

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Thank you,
Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P.

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