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The Cutting Edge: COMPUTING / TECHNOLOGY / INNOVATION : CompuServe Reopens Access

February 14, 1996|From Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — CompuServe Inc. said today it has reinstated access to all but five Internet newsgroups that were suspended under an investigation of online pornography by German authorities.

The company also said it will offer a parental control program that will let all CompuServe users at home and abroad restrict access to questionable newsgroups.

Access was cut off in December to about 200 newsgroups, computer forums where users can post messages for all to see--including text, pictures and sound. The action was taken after state prosecutors in Bavaria, Germany, notified the Columbus-based company it was investigating distributors of sexually explicit material on the Internet.

Because CompuServe does not have the technology to block access in a specific geographic location, access was suspended for all 4.7 million users worldwide.

The decision to deny access to Internet forums led to accusations of censorship.

"Combining parental controls with lifting the newsgroup suspension reaffirms our commitment to online safety for families and our position that responsibility for Internet content lies with those who create it or put it on the Internet, not with the access provider," Bob Massey, CompuServe's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement released today.

The five newsgroups that will remain inaccessible contain explicit child pornography material, company spokesman Jeff Shafer said. He said he did not know how long the suspension would remain in effect.

Shafer said the German government has been notified of CompuServe's decision.

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