Bnei Brak – From Koogle to Yideotube, Supplying a Kosher Internet is an Uphill Battle

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    Avi Greenzeig was hired by rabbis to edit and censor one of Israel's most popular Haredi websites, Behadrei Haredim. "People can live without television, but the Internet is different," he says. (Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times / November 20, 2010)Bnei Brak – Reporting from Bnei Berek, Israel– From a drab office in this ultra-Orthodox Jewish stronghold, three devout young women hunch over computers and surf the Internet — looking for pornography, celebrity gossip and a laundry list of other items banned by their rabbis.

    It’s odd work for this trio, dressed modestly and wearing wigs in keeping with their beliefs. But it’s their job at Israel’s first ultra-Orthodox Internet provider, Nativ, as it tries to launch a product that could transform the traditionally sheltered community: kosher Internet.

    Because racy images of women are the most common offensive content found, the company decided it would be less objectionable to hire women to scour the Internet so ultra-Orthodox customers can surf without worry.

    Lea Bernat, 22, a former kindergarten teacher, clicks through hundreds of web pages a day, using specialized software to open links and disable problematic content. “If it’s clean, we release it,” she said. “If it’s really unclean, we tell the customer that the site isn’t approved.”

    But is it kosher?

    That’s the question facing many ultra-Orthodox as they move online and are greeted by a fast-growing industry seeking to cater to their special needs, even though no one agrees yet exactly what a kosher Internet should look like.

    There’s Koogle, a Google-inspired searchable directory of kosher businesses offering, say, bargains on “modest” wedding dresses, (as was reported before here on Vos Iz Neias). Many rabbis frown on YouTube, so Yideotube offers a “daily online source of carefully screened videos,” ranging from spoofs of anti-war activists to tips for buying a ceremonial kittel robe.

    Worried about violating prohibitions against working on the Sabbath? Software vendor SaturdayGuard sells technology that enables websites to block access for Internet users, depending upon their time zone, between Friday and Saturday night.

    There’s even an online support group, GuardYourEyes.org, specializing in helping Orthodox Jews break “lust addictions” arising from Internet access. In addition to the usual 12-step programs and daily “strengthening” e-mails, the group offers tips for curtailing inappropriate surfing, including using software that automatically sends lists of visited websites to your spouse or rabbi.

    Continue reading the full story at The Los Angeles Times.

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    9 COMMENTS

    1. I tried many iPhone filters and none really work! The only one that DOES work and does an excellent job is mobicip. It costs 4.99 to download from the app store. The thing is you have to have someone lock the app store (so as not to be able to download another web app) and safari. I have someone I see virtually every day so as when I need some app from the app store he unlocks it for me.

      The real way this can work is when you pay $10 a year to mobicip which allows the person with the code to customize your experience and to view any blacklisted site you went on.

      They have 3 filtering levels. The only one that really works is the strongest one (for the youngest users). The problem is it blocks way to much, but that can easily be taken care of by paying the $10 yearly fee and then going to account settings on mobicip.com and personalizing your surfing experience. They allow you to blacklist/whitelist sites and most importantly to whitelist specific catergories (ex financial sites which are originally blocked on this level of filtering.)

      GOOD LUCK

    2. This article only illustrates the total absence of any logic in any efforts to block access to the internet, but then why should we expect anything about these chareidi extremists to be “logical”. Denying yidden access to knowledge and ideas is simply contrary to daas torah. Censorship is exactly the opposite of what we learn from chazal but that doesn’t seem to matter to these rabbonim.

      • Which daas torah are you refering to? daas torah requires to filter internet! sefardic, ashkenazi, yeshivish and chasidish, or else you’re not allowed to go online at all.

    3. Why do we need self-appointed censors to decide what we may or may not look at on the internet? This is just another way for the owners of this scheme to make money to line their own pockets.

      What happened to self-discipline all of a sudden?

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