Peacefire filters out the filters

Internet filtering programs SurfWatch, Cyber Patrol, Net Nanny, CYBERsitter, X-Stop, PureSight and Cyber Snoop could all be rendered useless simply by using new “anti-filtering” software from free speech group Peacefire, the group said.

The software, also called Peacefire, can be downloaded for free from the group’s Web site. It can disable versions of the filtering software available and installed prior to Dec. 17, the group said in a statement on the Web site.

“This software is being released in response to the passage of a bill by (U.S.) Congress that requires the use of blocking software in schools and libraries that receive federal funds,” a message on the site said. Peacefire, which was founded in 1996 to represent the interests of minors in Internet free speech issues, has been working on “anti-filtering” issues since 1998. The group’s Web site lists ways to get around filtering software, as well as indexing Web sites blocked by filtering software. Peacefire can be found on the Web at www.peacefire.org.

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