Expo Notes: Another Web site-filtering option

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Editor’s Note: All this week, Macworld editors will report from the Macworld Expo show floor on meetings with Mac developers, new product announcements, and anything else that catches their eye.

Mac parents worried about the more nefarious side of Web haven’t had many options for controlling what their kids see online. But as of this week, they have a new—and free—tool to check out. Security company Blue Coat released a public beta of its full-featured Internet filtering software, K9 Web Protection at Macworld Expo.

Instead of using keyword filtering, the downloadable software relies primarily on a database the company maintains for its corporate server-based product, Blue Coat WebFilter. Parents can customize what types of sites the software blocks by selecting from 55 categories. These include regulars such as pornography and hate speech, as well as less-typical categories such as social networking, health and vehicles. (Some categories were originally designed to stop employees from slacking off at work.)

If a child tries to visit a forbidden site, the software barks a warning. K9 Web Protection can also enforce time restrictions on Internet access and logs all sites visited, so parents can see what the kids were actually doing during homework time.

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