Filters block porn sites'federal sites, too

Pornography filters, required by law to be used on library and school computers, often block federal health-related Web sites, a new study has found.

The study, published in the Dec. 11 Journal of the American Medical Association, tested 3,052 health sites and 516 pornography sites against seven common blocking and filtering products. As settings became more restrictive, blocks on health-related sites became more common. At the most-restrictive settings, 24 percent of health information sites were blocked. But the most-restrictive settings did not substantially increase the blocking of pornographic sites, the study found. Even at their least-restrictive settings, the filters blocked an average of 10 percent of health sites on sexual topics.

Among the federal sites blocked by some filters were a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site of resources for diabetics, a Food and Drug Administration article on survival rates for testicular cancer, CDC's fact sheet on genital herpes, CDC's guidelines for treating sexually transmitted diseases and a National Library of Medicine page for health care providers about herpes.

The report is online at www.kff.org/content/2002/20021210a.

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