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Anti-hate group updates Web filter

The Anti-Defamation League releases a new version of its Web filter, taking off the price tag and adding the ability to block pornography and violent content.

The Anti-Defamation League said Thursday that it has updated its Web filter with free software in an effort to combat sites that the group claims promote hate.

With the ADL HateFilter 2.0, the league has dropped software provider Cyber Patrol and turned to technology from the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA), an international nonprofit group composed of industry leaders such as Microsoft, AOL Time Warner, IBM and VeriSign. The ICRA is not charging the ADL for the new technology; previously, the filter cost $29.95 a year.

Like the previous version, the new software lets people block access to a list of sites that the group says espouse hatred, including those run by neo-Nazis, white supremacists and Holocaust deniers. The new filter lets people add to the list pornographic, violent and other online content that parents or other organizations consider unsuitable for children.

The upgrade comes as the number of sites monitored by the ADL grows exponentially, according to the group. In addition to targeting fringe sites, anti-hate groups have criticized practices by major online destinations. eBay and Yahoo have both implemented policies banning the sale of Nazi-related items and other hate products, for example.

Some computer games also have been marked by the group. Last month, the ADL issued a report warning of games that it says encourage racist violence. The organization's target is a computer game called "Ethnic Cleansing" sold by Resistance Records, a small underground label that specializes in bands spouting racist and Nazi messages.

"The filter is designed to help parents protect their children from hate speech on the Internet," said Jordan Kessler, director of Internet monitoring at the New York-based organization. "Sites on the ADL list of hate sites are very dangerous; they encourage people to hate others simply because they are black or Jewish and gay, and we want to empower parents to protect their children from this type of speech."