posted Jan 26, 2001

Web-filter data is put up for sale
Privacy from Companies
1/26/2001; 1:38:15 PM

'Few companies know more about what children do on the Internet at school than N2H2 Inc. The company’s Web-filtering software, called Bess, is used by more than 12 million students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and new federal rules are likely to push the number higher.

'BECAUSE IT TYPICALLY is installed as a school’s gatekeeper to the Internet, Bess knows where the students go on the Web and how long they spend there. It also knows when students try to access a site that’s on N2H2’s blacklist for being too violent or containing pornography.

'The question is whether marketers should get to know students’ surfing habits, too. Late last year, N2H2 began selling its data. The information, called Class Clicks, is aggregated, meaning it can’t be used to identify surfing habits of specific students, or even specific schools. But privacy advocates say the sale of children’s usage data is troubling, and they worry that marketers are encroaching on ground that once was sacred.'

This is especially interesting in light of the possibility that filters will be required in schools and libraries.


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