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Parents can protect children from porn

It seems everyone's talking about child pornography on the Internet ("All talk and no action - yet", 16 September) and how it should be stopped. The method people seem to be advocating involves censoring communications. This can only be described as profoundly stupid. The Internet and the protocols that underpin it were designed to make it next to impossible to stop data getting through; it was designed to cope with nuclear war.

The two practical ways of stopping people being corrupted involve stopping young children viewing the porn in the first place by supervising them.

If you watch what your children do on the computer, they are never likely to find anything that will corrupt them, just as children who are watched are involved in far less household or traffic accidents.

As far as illegal pictures of children are concerned, they shouldn't be on the Internet in the first place. It is fair to assume that it is impossible to stop any data being passed across the Net. If I wished, it would be a very simple affair to encode this message with encryption keys that couldn't be cracked for a good few decades with massed arrays of supercomputers.

It's impossible to get rid of digital data if someone wants to keep it, so if you find the people who are taking the photos by spending money on cracking porn rings, the police could find a greater respect among the Internet community.

Why don't you do an article or running series on the basic principles of the Internet, as it seems many people don't understand how it works (which is understandable, because they've never been told)?

Marek Nelken

Marek@wash-pit.demon.co.uk

The world according to Gates

I would like to launch a campaign to stop the distribution of Encarta, the so-called atlas by Microsoft. As CD-Roms can't easily be inspected by customers in a shop, we consider this a so-called cat in a sack. As a multimedia achievement, Encarta looks formidable. But the geographics are ridiculous.

I defy anybody, including your reviewer ("I've got the whole world on my screen", 9 September), to inspect a well-known region and then look at the data on the map. We couldn't believe our eyes. Large centres and even cities are discarded in favour of very odd hamlets and medieval placenames that no longer exist. We inspected Flanders, of course, which is an open insult, but also regions in Switzerland, Italy, France and even Bangladesh - everywhere the same horror story.

Microsoft Benelux acknowledged a problem but explained the atlas is for children and that they mentioned the problem to Microsoft USA. Not one of the people I spoke to at Microsoft had ever seen the atlas himself - a disgrace.

I'm quite sure I will get my money back - that is not the problem. I think this infamous publication and should be kept away from schoolchildren.

Peter Suetens

peter.suetens@brtn.be

Putting the megabyte on chip thieves

Re: "Chip theft feeds the spot market" (16 September). Last week, I purchased 32Mb of EDO SIMMs at pounds 37 per 8Mb from a reputable hardware supplier. The following day, while purchasing a motherboard, I discovered another supplier offering the same for pounds 27 per 8Mb.

Surely prices such as these herald a return to antiques theft for the "professional" thieves your article mentions.

Paul Johnson

ac280@dial.pipex.com

Paper money

You advertise (Network, 16 September) a month's free trial of the Independent online. I already have the AOL software, but it asks for my credit card number. AOL and say they will not connect me without it, so I don't call this free. I already have access to the Internet from my CIX account. How can I see the Independent without using AOL?

Granville Olive

granville.olive@catsoft94.compulink.co.uk

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