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SurfWatch to give users more control

An extension of the popular SurfWatch filtering software will give users more control over what sites are blocked.

SurfWatch Software is gearing up to release an extension to its popular SurfWatch filtering software that will give parents and other users more control over what sites are blocked.

The extension, called SurfWatch Manager, will allow parents to block and unblock individual Web sites at their discretion. It will also give users limited power to edit keyword lists that include topics such as sexually explicit material; drugs, alcohol, and tobacco; and violence and hate speech, said Jay Friedland, SurfWatch vice president of marketing and sales.

Due to ship within 30 days, SurfWatch Manager will be free of charge to all SurfWatch subscribers.

In its current version, SurfWatch scans Web pages for online material unsuitable for children but without giving the user any control over what keywords the software is using in its filtering. With the new extension, the program will continue to distribute and update new sites over the Net each month but will defer to the user's settings.

The Manager extension was released partly in response to complaints that the filtering software was inadvertently blocking innocuous sites, such as the White House home page. The software was blocking the site because it uses the word "couples," even though the White House was using it as a noun, not a verb. SurfWatch has since unblocked the site.