Is this going too far?

I recently received an email from the folks at SurfWatch, you know, the people who make the product which filters out "adult" content on the Internet so that parents can have the pollyanna rose-coloured outlook that their children are safe from corruption.

Below is the letter that I received, as well as my response. If you have any comments to make, please do so, either to myself, or Bill Duvall of SurfWatch

From: Bill (
Subject: adult material
Date: Thu, 20 Jul 95 10:24:03 0000

We produce a product, SurfWatch, which installs on a personal computer and gives individuals a choice with regard to filtering adult material from the Internet. The intended audience is parents whose children use the Internet. We seem to be having some success in offering it as a possible alternative to overall govt censorship of the net. I have noticed that, mixed in with many of the neat things in your site, are some which might be classified as adult, for example the ...50000.html page. It would really help our effort if you could gather this stuff up and place it in a suitable labeled directory, e.g. /adult/... so that we could comfortably include URL's below that in our "adult" site list.

Thanks in advance,

Bill Duvall

And my response:

Mr. Duvall,

Thank you for your suggestion on the placing of material which is adult in nature under a /adult/ path on my HTTP server. However, I will not be following your suggestion as I feel that it is not within the rights or obligations of any individual, organisation, government or company to limit the rights of free speech and expression of any other sentient human being. Whilst I can appreciate that some parents feel the Orwellian need to attempt to control what their children are exposed to, I feel that there is a greater need for the parents to communicate why those feelings are had rather than to patently reject it in a protectionistic maneuver.

I do, however, wholeheartedly approve of your view of keeping any form of governmental control out of the Internet.

To be honest if the material on my site were truely offensive, containing graphic video images of abusive sexual or torture scenes implying clear lack of personal choice, then I would of course oblige with your request. Yet I feel that the language used in my text only articles is almost clinical in nature and in no way will impact a naive youth.

Thank you for your correspondence.

Scott McIntyre