LETTER:The Internet publishes - and is damned

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The Independent Online
From Mr Colin Tully

Sir: In his letter about the Internet, Jim Moody tells us the action taken in Germany [to force CompuServe to ban access to newsgroups that discuss sexual matters] is "dangerous". Which is the greater danger: zealots' pain, or the exploitation and abuse of children?

We are told the Internet "should only ever be used by minors under adult supervision". Does Mr Moody inhabit the same reality as the rest of us, or only a virtual one? And "there is always the off switch". Why then regulate TV transmissions?

We are told that "a state authority has usurped the rights, duties and responsibilities of parents". I wonder how many parents know how to exercise them, or will now protest at being disempowered?

What's more, "technical help for parents already exists" by way of "a software filter". After 35 years in the software business, I do not find this as reassuring as Mr Moody evidently does.

We are told that "the Internet can no more be described as anarchic than the telephone system or the postal service or a bag of apples". The issue is not anarchy; it is the unsolicited distribution of pornography. This is discouraged by post or phone, so why not by the Internet?

Well, "those who post inappropriate material are dealt with expeditiously by their peers, their fellow-users in each news group". Fellow pornographers (and bomb makers) are no doubt specially expeditious.

The Internet is a splendid achievement, but it is naive to suppose that it carries no risk, or that management of the risk should be left to the zealots.


Colin Tully

Tunbridge Wells, Kent