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CDA's loss is gain for software

Vendors of software that blocks Net access expect sales to boom in the wake of the Supreme Court's rejection of the CDA.

One unlikely group of free-speech advocates--filtering software makers--say they won on two counts today: The defeat of the Communications Decency Act and the promise of increased sales of their products.

Their investors apparently feel the same. Net Nanny, which trades on the Vancouver Exchange, saw its stock jump nearly 60 percent this month to $2.65 from a low for the month of $1.07. Gordon Ross, Net Nanny president, said anticipation of the CDA's defeat contributed to the soaring stock price.

Spyglass' SurfWatch unit is expected to generate major revenue now that the CDA has been rejected, said spokesman Jay Friedlan. He noted businesses, schools, and parents that thought the government would take control of monitoring online information will now look for an alternative.

And it doesn't hurt that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor mentioned two of the companies that make screening software in her dissenting opinion.

She wrote that Internet users should "limit their own power to access information in cyberspace, much as a parent controls what her children watch on television by installing a lock box. This user-based zoning is accomplished through the use of screening software--such as Cyber Patrol or SurfWatch--or browsers with screening capabilities."

SurfWatch plans to focus on affordable solutions for the education market and bundling deals with computer and software companies. It currently has deals with Compaq Computer, Microsoft, and Apple Computer.

Friedland added that a beefed-up advertising campaign is not out of the question.

Net Nanny's Ross said although the defeat of the CDA was good for his company, the act's passage would not have been a threat.

"The global market is growing and that's not going to stop. This decision takes some of the pressure off internal decision making, like where to spend our money," but regardless of whether the CDA was upheld, the company's focus would have remained on security, he said.

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