PICS critique in Wired 5.03

Jim Whitehead (
Sun, 9 Feb 1997 13:09:51 -0800

In "Put on the Red Light," an article in the Idees Fortes section of the
March, 1997 Wired (5.03), on pages 127-128, Jaron Lanier criticizes PICS.
The gist of his argument is, PICS makes it easier to perform censorship by
ANDing together ratings on a site, and creates a "Red Light" district for
undesirable materials, making them easier to find. He advocates filter
programs like NetNanny as a better approach.

In the same issue of Wired, is a story, "Flaming Filter, by Rebecca Vesely,
page 54, in the Electric World section, in which CyberSitter, a filter
program, is accused of censorship. Sites which CyberSitter blocks out
include the National Organization of Women and The Well (a list of blocked
sites can be found at In retaliation, Solid Oak plans
to block Peacefire's ISP, Media3, in future versions of CyberSitter.

- Jim