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File this under "maybe not quite what we had in mind." During the 1996 dustup over the Communications Decency Act, it was agreed that Internet pornography laws shouldn't shut out fine art. But a new porn-filtering program does more than block Pablo Picasso's cubist nudes. Like for instance, those naughty pictures of houses posted by the good Rotarians at Realtor.com (who caused the problem by telling homeowners to paint houses a neutral shade!), and, irony of ironies, the home page of anti-Web-porn activist Donna Rice Hughes. "The [page's] background is sort of that parchment color, isn't it?" laughs Hughes. British-based Eye-t Technology Ltd. says its new filter is better because it blocks "excessive" flesh tones rather than looking for keywords to censor. Eye-t's so-called eyeguard program also freezes the computer if it catches Junior looking at too much flesh--tone, that is. Only a teacher or parent can unlock it.
The makers of eyeguard seem comfortable with the idea of protecting children from pictures of tan suburban homes. "We'd rather err on the side of spotting more pornography," says technical director Jonathan Scott. One machine's art, it appears, will always be another machine's smut.By David Rocks