Internet Content Filters

Many parents are worried about the type of material their children could access on the Internet, either intentionally or by accident as even without trying it’s easy to inadvertently end up at one of the less reputable sites online.

One of my regular contributors Ian McMillan suggested that I take a look at the freeware program ‘Naomi’ and I must say that I’m so impressed by this small, free program that this weeks article will focus primarily on the review of this particular piece of software.

By heading to you can download this small 1mb package and once installed you are simply asked to select a password that will be used if you ever wish to change any settings or shut down the program and then for most users the configuration is now completed.The program will now sit down in the toolbar and close the browser if it detects that you are attempting to access anything questionable.

Unlike less sophisticated Internet filters, Naomi doesn’t just rely on a database of banned sites or simple keywords but instead uses a heuristic analysis of every site that you visit to determine the likelihood of it being unsuitable.Rather than just working with Internet Explorer the program also monitors sites being viewed in other browsers such as Firefox and Opera and is capable of detecting questionable content written in most major languages.

Most people when they think of questionable content on the Internet only think about pornography but of course there are plenty more to worry about our there.In no particular order Naomi tries to prevent access to violent contents; pornography and eroticism in the form of images or texts, sites that popularize drugs, gambling games, terrorism, hate propaganda, occultism, sects and blasphemy.

Of course, no Internet content filter is completely secure - Give me a minute alone with Naomi and I could forcefully remove it from the machine forever however it should be noted that the program isn’t designed for 23 year old computer experts but for children and early teens.If your son or daughter has sufficient knowledge to remove this program from your home PC then they’re obviously not particularly young so perhaps it’s time you stopped worrying and you should hope that sometime in their lives you’ve thought them what is and what is not acceptable material.

The program does not perform any downloading itself in order to check the suitability of sites and so is fine to use on slow Internet connections without fear of them slowing down and in addition it takes up very little in the way of system resources so should not slow down your machine.One nice feature of the program is that it can also be set to prevent peer to peer downloads - these are popular ways to acquire both illegal and questionable material.

The only real gripes that I have with the program is that it will slip up from time to time by either allowing access to material which you consider to be unsuitable or by preventing access to perfectly acceptable sites.The fact that the program is so easy to set up and requires no configuration can also work against it in the fact that you can’t turn the sensitivity of the program up or down nor can you manually allow access to specific sites.I would have also preferred that in the instance of questionable material being discovered if the program could just pop up a message telling you that access to the requested material has been denied and taking you back to the last page you viewed rather than shutting down the browser entirely.

All things considered this program is a worthwhile download for those parents who may be worried about the browsing habits of their children especially when you take in to account that it is both free of charge and easy to configure.Personally I would find a content filter installed on a family computer annoying when it blocks suitable material and think it would also give the message to my children that perhaps I didn’t trust their own judgement but of course everyone is different and perhaps when I have kids of my own this viewpoint will be radically changed!

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.