by Sarah Stapleton-Gray,
Internet and LAN Manager
Editor's note: This column will update you periodically on the latest changes, additions and advances to NOW's Web site.
NOW Shopping Goes On-Line
It's 2 a.m. and the urge to buy something -- but not just anything -- hits you while you're surfing the Internet. Quick! Click on the NOW Web site and suddenly you're there: the new NOW products online catalog.
Our shopping cart software allows you to go from Web page to Web page, putting items in your cyber-cart, and then to pay by credit card from our secure site. We'll keep adding new catalogue sections over the next few months until all of NOW's products are posted.
Cybersitter Blocks NOW Web Site
"Cyberspace" is known as a free-wheeling, anything-goes type place, which has led to attempts by Congress to censor it with the Communications Decency Act last year. Consequently, many companies have rushed to create software that allows parents and others to block World Wide Web sites containing pornography and violent materials.
Believe it or not, NOW's Web site has been blocked for the past year to users of one product, Cybersitter, made by Solid Oak Software. According to the Solid Oak president, NOW's site is blocked because of content supporting lesbian and gay rights.
Solid Oak states on its Web site that it blocks "homosexuality/transgender sites."
Should you access our site while using Cybersitter and NOW's numeric address (188.8.131.52), you would not see words like lesbian because they are blocked -- deleted -- from any page. For example, "lesbian rights" reads as "rights."
Many people are installing this software because it is included with their Internet connection software. In Minnesota, a bill has been submitted that would require schools to install blocking software, although the bill does not indicate which software. Customers should know the agenda behind such products as Cybersitter.
Make sure your Internet provider and others in your community do not bundle Cybersitter free to their customers. Take action so your children's school does not use it, and let companies or schools know you are opposed to the use of blocking software produced by companies with right-wing political agendas.
Give feedback to Solid Oak on its blocking policies. Send your comments to its e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-388-2761. Question its policy on blocking sites that are racist or anti-Semitic, but not sites that are sexist. And question its blocking of NOW's site.
When purchasing a blocking product, check what sites it blocks. Contact the company if you disagree with its policy or blocked sites that do not fall under its policy. And check for yourself what has been deemed unacceptable for audiences, particularly for children.
Free E-mail Accounts
E-mail account holders can connect to http://www.now.org/actions/signup.html or send a request to our automated program at email@example.com with a message that reads:
to join our activist alert network and get the latest information.
If you're not already using e-mail, you can get free e-mail accounts from several national providers -- as long as you're patient enough to sit through their advertising. Here's how:
If you have a Windows-based computer and a modem, you can use Juno, which provides its own software and an e-mail account and can be reached through 400 local dial up numbers. E-mail your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-654-JUNO to sign up. This account will not provide you with access to the World Wide Web.
If you already have access to the Web through your work, library, or local cybercafe, but no e-mail account or modem of your own, take a look at http://www.hotmail.com/
Activist's Guide To Government Web Sites
State and local government sites: Piper's Resources page at http://www.piperinfo.com/state/states.html lists local government Web sites. (Note this address has changed since it was printed in the 3/97 NNT).
Thomas: At Thomas, point your browser to http://thomas.loc.gov/ to find information about federal legislation and your congressional representatives.
EEOC: The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has recently put its Web site online. Reach the site at http://www.eeoc.gov/ to get fact sheets on how to file a complaint, facts on sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and race/color discrimination, and lots more useful information.
VAWO: Go to http://www.usdoj.gov/vawo/ to reach the Violence Against Women Office at the U.S. Department of Justice. Here you can get information about the National Domestic Violence Hotline, grant programs, research, reports and links to legislation.
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