protecting children/
protecting intellectual freedom on-line
March 21, 1996


According to the popular press and many vocal politicians, the online world poses fundamental new threats to our children. The network brings pornography and pedophilia into the home and classroom. Are these fears grounded? In what ways are the issues raised by information on web sites different from those raised by books in libraries? Do parents have the right to control their children's access to information? Do children have any rights to intellectual freedom that transcend those parental rights? Do voluntary filtering schemes like SurfWatch software offer a viable alternative to government-mandated censorship? Does even voluntary filtering represent a threat to intellectual freedom? What are the alternatives? This forum will examine these complex issues and will include on-screen demonstrations and visits to problematic web sites.

Bill Duvall is the CEO of SurfWatch Software, whose products aim to reduce the risk of children and others uncovering sexually explicit material on the Internet. Judith Krug is Director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, American Library Association and Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation. Amy Bruckman is the founder of two text-based virtual reality environments or "MUDs" on the Internet: MediaMOO, a professional community for media researchers; and MOOSE Crossing, a community designed to give children 9-13 a meaningful context for reading, writing, and computer programming.


Bill Duvall
SurfWatch Software
Judith Krug
American Library Association
Moderator: Amy Bruckman
MIT Media Lab