Email #1

To: Jenny
From: Deborah
Date: 25 Feb 1998
Time: 16:20:12


Date: Mon, 16 Feb 1998 12:32:00 -0500
From: Chuck Ambrus ChuckBA@compuserve.com
Subject: CyberSitter Bans ALL Wiccan/Pagan WebSites!!!...

I got this from a friend and thought I would pass it on.

Figured you all should hear about this.

Later, Chuck

--------- Begin forwarded message ----------
From: Kostya Branwen Sudice kostya@pinn.net
To: kostya@pinn.net
Cc: Asherah asherah@thewitches.com
Subject: CyberSitter Bans ALL Wiccan/Pagan WebSites!!!...
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 1998 11:37:56

```````````````````````````````` Reprinted with permission of the author: `````````````````````````````````

Last week, I had a run in with the Software Company that manufactures Cybersitter an Internet Filtering product.  I wrote the company an e-mail expressing my displeasure at the filtering techniques they were currently employing.  The company responded by mail-bombing me.  For the full story on what happened visit: <http://www.thewitches.com/censor/>.

After this incident occured the company drafted an automated response to anyone inquiring about the mail-bombing incident.  This letter basically dimisses me as not being a worthwhile individual because I have a site for wiccans/pagans.  The full version of that letter is also available at the above URL.

A few days after the mail-bombing incident, my site TheWitches.Com was added to Cybersitters list of blocked sites.

They have since taken that one step further and banned ALL wiccan/pagan sites.

The blocked words "pagan", "wiccan" and "witch" came up when trying to access sites like The Witches Voice and Texas Pagan Awareness League with Cybersitter's software installed.  The Software also blocks those words when trying to use them in search engines.  Now, let me further explain how this works.  This does not mean that every wiccan/pagan site is completely blocked.  Those sites containing any reference to wicca, wiccan, pagan, or witch are completely blocked from access, such as:

The Witches.Com <http://www.thewitches.com>
The Witches Voice <http://www.witchvox.com>
The Pagans.Com <http://www.thepagans.com>
The Celtic Connection <http://www.wicca.com>
Sun Dragon Wicca Page <http://www.wiccan.com>
Pagan Community's Common Ground <http://www.pagan.net/~coyote/home/>

Other sites containing any of the keywords mentioned above will either be censored by the software (ie. blocking out the offending words) or you will not be able to view the page at all.  All you'll see is an empty white page, or the site won't even open.

Mjolnir has also done testing on the software.  You may view his findings at: http://members.aol.com/Mjolnir13/

There are three reasons to be concerned about this:

1.) Unlike Cyber-Patrol who had targeted individual wiccan/pagan websites Cybersitter is targeting ALL wiccan/pagan websites by their use of specific keywords.

2.) The major filtering software companies are known to share lists with each other so if we are banned on one, we very well might end up banned on all.

3.) If legislation is passed requiring schools and libraries to use filtering software, the public in general would not be able to access information about wicca/paganism.  Some schools and libraries are already using filtering software.  Any of these schools and libraries using Cybersitter have already shut the public off from accessing wiccan/pagan sites without even being aware of it, as Cybersitter keeps its list of blocked sites encrypted...one would have to view the violations log for a list of blocked keywords.  Check out the legislation they are trying to get passed.

This is a dangerous situation to wiccan/pagans everywhere.  We have two major first amendment rights being violated here:  Our freedom of speech as well as our freedom of religion. 

According to Solid Oak's website, this is the criteria they use for blocking sites:

"CYBERsitter includes lists that can block literally 1000's of World Wide Web sites that are not suitable for children.  Any site that focuses on topics such as adult or sexual issues, illegal activities, bigotry, racism, drugs, or pornography are included in the list."

Please explain to me which category wicca/paganism fall into here?

"CYBERsitter's bad site list also includes hundreds of Usenet News Groups that focus on the same types of topics as the above WWW sites. You can optionally block access to ALL Newsgroups."

Which means, folks, that Pagan and Wiccan Newsgroups are also being blocked.

There are several things that can be done about this.  The Texas Pagan Awareness League has a page which lists the appropriate e-mail address with which to contact Solid Oak Software Inc. and voice your concern over this the URL is: <http://www.tpao.org/cybersit.html>

I have also been contacted by a group who has been monitoring the Solid Oak situation for over a year.  They are considering organizing a peacable demonstration.  Anyone who would like to show support for this idea or who would like more information can e-mail me asherah@thewitches.com .

You can also download a free trial copy of Cybersitter from <http://www.solidoak.com> and see for yourself how the product works.

I have created a .gif file that can be displayed on all wiccan/pagan sites or you can use an alternate graphic provided by the great members of Peacefire.  You may choose to link the Peacefire graphic to Peacefire rather than linking it to TheWitches.com, that is entirely up to you.  Please place one on your website, and link it to: <http://www.thewitches.com/censor/blocked.htm> 

If you do place the logo on your site please e-mail me cysitban@thewitches.com and let me know.  I'd like to keep a list of all the sites involved in this fight (and hopefully there will come a time when the gif is no longer needed, I'd like to be able to contact everyone that has linked and let them know that.)

Visit and consider becoming a member of Peacefire an organization that is dedicated to fighting both Internet censorship as well as the filtering software companies.  Their URL is <http://www.peacefire.org>

Help spread the word about Solid Oak's actions. My mailing list is limited and not all wiccans/pagans know about my website.  Please make other wiccans/pagans you know aware of this situation either by forwarding a copy of this e-mail or referring them to the urls listed in this e-mail.  The more united we are the louder our voices will be.

Let others know how you feel about this issue on our Filtering Software Message Board:  <http://www2.dboard.com/board.asp?mb=1812>

If you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me asherah@thewitches.com .

Again, I ask that you please put the words "Solid Oak" in the subject line as I will be setting up a seperate mail folder for this correspondence.

Bright Blessings, Asherah


These are the people who have shown their support by placing a link from their site to The Witches.Com <http://www.thewitches.com>:

Between the Worlds <http://members.aol.com/neithti/>
Dreamwolf's Page <http://www.thewitches.com/censor/members.freepage.de/dreamwolf/contents.html>
Coven of the Lightning Skies <http://home.rmci.net/idahopyro/>
Bright Blessings <http://members.aol.com/runes3/blessings.htm>
Mjolnir's Pagan and Wiccan Page <http://members.aol.com/Mjolnir13/>
Witchy Warrior <http://members.tripod.com/~StormyWindWalker/WitchyWarrior.html>
Out of the Broom Closet <http://galaxy.silvren.com/~tinnekke/pagan.html>
Tammy's Tarot Page <http://www.geocities.com/Arear51/Lair/4685/>
The CommonWealth Pagan (TCP) <http://www.pinn.net/~eehgsh/index.html>
GlitteringPhoenix (GP) <http://www.pinn.net/~kostya/GP/phoenix.html>
Pentacle Pagan 12 Step Recovery (PP12SR) <http://www.pinn.net/~kostya/PR/pentacle.htm>
The HTML GlitterGoddesses <http://www.pinn.net/~eehgsh/PMKBS/htmlggws.html>
Pagan Alliance of Tidewater/Hampton Roads <http://www.pinn.net/~eehgsh/PATH/path.html>