The European Union and a group of European companies and organizations have launched a new project aimed at creating Internet filtering technology tailored for users in several European countries.
The World Wide Web Safe Surfing Project is part of a $23.4 million initiative launched by the European Union in 1999 to help users surf the Web without encountering illegal or objectionable content. As part of the initiative, the EU is providing funding for several projects exploring different types of filtering technologies.
The projects are "a means to empower users to address the handling of harmful [content]," said Per Haugaard, spokesman at the European Commissions information society directorate general.
The latest project, launched Jan. 1, is aimed at developing filtering technology that responds to different cultures and languages across Europe. Horst Joepen, chief executive of the German Internet filter provider Webwasher.com, said some of the leading Web filters "do not really respect national or cultural differences."
Webwasher, a subsidiary of Siemens, is one of six European companies and organizations participating in the project. The others include Institut Eurecom of France, Instituto Técnico de Enseñanza y Servicios of Spain, Thales Communications of France, the University of Namur in Belgium and Zeus Consulting of Greece. The project will initially focus on providing products for French, German, Greek and Spanish users and then expand to other countries, Joepen said. The group hopes to make its first products available to the public in three to four months.
The project also is aimed at expanding the use of filters. Joepen said no more than 5 percent of Europeans use filters when surfing the Net.