Firm offering free filtering services

A Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Internet company, this.com, is offering free filtering services to all schools throughout the U.S., with a special focus on narrowing the "digital divide" by targeting inner-city and underprivileged school children.

The company announced plans to work with schools and their Internet service providers to install its filtering system, which identifies and blocks inappropriate material from getting through to a user's Web browser. The company's system compares a requested Web site with a database of unwanted content sites and looks for inappropriate content. If it passes that test, the site is allowed to pass through the company's artificial intelligence engine, said company president and chief executive officer Brad Daniel.

"This.com's artificial intelligence has the ability to distinguish pornographic and hate-oriented Web pages from those sites featuring legitimate news, medical research and educational content," Daniel said.

The company also plans to provide one month's free home access to the parents of children in participating schools. "A lot of schools can't afford the filtering...and a lot of homes [in underprivileged] areas don't have it either," Daniel said. "It made sense to us to offer it them...because if the kids are at school with the filtering and go home [to Internet providers] without it -- it doesn't defeat the purpose," but it doesn't help either, he said.

This.com expects to enroll up to 1,600 schools through the program and also will offer participating schools original content featuring "educational tools to help teachers teach better using the Internet," Daniel said. Two of the programs include: Cyber Stock, which gives students their own account to buy, sell and track stocks throughout the semester; and Cyber Allowance, to teach kids about maintaining a bank account.

More information is available at www.this.com/homeroom.

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