NEW YORK - The Anti-Defamation League announced plans Tuesday to have a software company develop filters to screen out hate sites on the World Wide Web.
The ADL will compile a list of hate sites for The Learning Company, a Cambridge, Mass., software firm that makes Cyber Patrol, a filtering program for the Web. Once a parent installs it on a computer, it blocks a child's access to any sites on the League's list.
"Suppose you're a 14-year-old kid doing a report on the Holocaust," said ADL spokesman Mark Edelman. "You press in the word 'Holocaust' and you just look at what comes up."
On Alta Vista, one of the more popular search engines, more than 27,000 listings pop up under "Holocaust." Most sites are useful, but a few dispute the Holocaust ever happened and spew anti-Semitic language.
"It's real difficult for kids that age to separate fact from fiction," said Edelman.
The Learning Company did not return phone calls.
But some say filters and banned-sites lists aren't the answer because they block too much.
"The reason why people are flocking to the Internet is that it gives them access to a vast amount of information," said David L. Sobel, legal counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a cyber-rights group in Washington.
"Do we really serve the ends by pushing this kind of speech underground?" Sobel said. "We're all better off knowing there are such extreme views and responding to that kind of speech with more speech."