James V. Dobeus


Parents and legislators have become increasingly concerned about access by children to Internet websites. The Communications Decency Act was the first to attempt to address the issue, but it failed to pass a constitutional challenge. Logically, the next step is to rate websites on the Internet. However, mandatory rating legislation will force providers to rate their sites using rating vocabularies such as RSACi, which they might not agree with. A voluntary rating system or old fashioned parental authority seems like a good solution, but both are based on a subjective determination that everyone may not agree with. Society has a legitimate interest in protecting children from danger. Parents must be given effective tools to regulate the content of what their children see on the Internet. Stand-alone blocking software seems to be the best option available to parents today. However, blocking software companies have 'block lists' which are not disclosed to the purchaser of the software. The disclosure of the 'block lists', as well as allowing users to block and unblock websites at their own discretion, is currently the most effective alternative available to parents. Ultimately, parents who use stand-alone blocking software will be able to block material which they deem to be offensive and not to be viewed by children. Providers will not be required to rate their speech and will be free to publish whatever they would like. Children will also be protected from the indecent speech and materials readily available on the Internet.