PixAlert puts a stop to PC porn


9 Feb 2006

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Dublin-based software company PixAlert has released a new product for family PC users that can prevent children from deliberately or accidentally seeing pornographic images on a computer.

Called SafeScreen, the software uses a combination of scanning and blurring techniques to detect images before they are displayed on screen. If the content is considered to be inappropriate the software blurs or blocks it based on settings selected by the parent or guardian.

According to PixAlert, the protection tool works in real-time and it can check for unsuitable graphical content no matter how it is stored on or sent to the PC. SafeScreen also works regardless of what program is being used to view images.

Conventional filtering technology can stop people from accessing known pornography sites based on a blacklist principle but this is only partially effective, PixAlert claimed.

Moreover, website blocking technology can’t guard against inappropriate content being sent to PCs from a range of other sources such as encrypted emails, images embedded in other files or by other storage media such as CD-Roms, DVDs, USB keys, mobile phones, MP3 players or digital cameras.

SafeScreen comes with parental control features that are password protected, allowing parents to configure the software for each person using the PC. Parents can set the scanning sensitivity and decide whether to obscure images or block them outright.

The software lets parents or guardians monitor and review images that have been obscured. If they decide an image is harmless, the blurring can be removed by the password holder. If the parent happens to leave the PC unattended for a period of time while monitoring images, blurring automatically resumes.

Andy Churley, PixAlert’s marketing director, said: “SafeScreen prevents children viewing illicit pictures, even if they unintentionally visit inappropriate websites or receive unsolicited emails.”

SafeScreen is the first PixAlert product to be aimed at the consumer market. To date the company has provided software for businesses to prevent access to inappropriate images in the workplace.

The software costs €29.99 and can be bought online at www.safescreen.net. There have already been 1,000 downloads of the program, PixAlert said.

By Gordon Smith