A padlock for the Internet?

The story we published yesterday on how effective Web filters are at a blocking out Internet porn really stirred up readers.

One of them sent me an e-mail yesterday about The Modem Lock Company, where he works. The company, based in Plano, Texas, makes a device that lets parents disable Internet access on home computers.

"One customer told us that he loves the fact that he can lock out the Internet when he and his wife go out to dinner," Doug Horn at Modem Lock wrote. "This way they don't have to worry about their children having unsupervised Internet access."

The palm-size device, called NetProtector, sits between the computer and the high-speed modem. The phone modem version plugs into the wall jack, and both versions feature a tamper-resistant clip that prevents them from being unplugged.

"To prohibit Internet access, simply insert the key into NetProtector and switch it to the 'lock' position," the press release he sent me said. "When Internet access is needed, turn the key back to the 'unlock'position. NetProtector is not a filtering product. It is a simple 100% hardware solution designed for parents."

The product is available through the company's Web site for $49.99.

I'm not a parent, but isn't this a little extreme for the average kid? And at $50 a pop, why not stick a padlock on the door and save some money?

Unless your child's a real hellion, it also seems like a poor substitute for teaching him or her about the perils of the Web and how to deal with them. You can't protect them forever.

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