Issue #101 – First Column – Surfing & Cruising.
Featuring Mike Bullard on the cover who had a TV show for awhile and then he didn’t. My piece was about the Internet protection law which never did pass in the US. FYI.. I never wrote any of the column headings.. the editor wrote those and they were designed to capture attention.
Surfing & Cruising
Big willies or black dots?
The Child Online Protection Act (COPA), designed to restrict material
that is harmful to minors on the Internet, could became law in the US
early next year.
Representatives of A Different Light Book store (www.adlbooks.com)
and Salon Magazine (www.salonmag.com) testified at a recent challenge
to the law. Both were concerned that material on their sites, although
not explicit in nature, could be construed as “harmful to minors.” The
law is so vague, in fact, that the Kenneth Starr report on Monica
Lewinsky and Bill Clinton might be in violation of COPA.
What does this mean to you?
If you’re an average gay man with a computer, chances are it will
alter some of the sites that you have bookmarked. Admit it —— most of
you have been to at least one explicit Web site. It will have a huge
impact on the Web’s largest industry — sex. Where big willies once
roamed freely, you’ll be seeing big black dots.
A specification in the law is that by requiring use of a credit card,
debit account or adult access code, a site would be able to carry explicit
material. Translation: the use of an Age Verification Service (AVS).
An AVS generally charges a yearly fee for membership. At sign—up you
get a personal I.D. and a generated password. These numbers are used to
access explicit Web sites, but only to the sites that carry their service.
Adult Check (www.adultcheck.com) is the largest AVS, claiming to
“secure” close to 25,000 sites. It’s a predominately straight service but
does offer a large amount of gay material.
The first exclusively gay AVS, is Toronto‘s own Mancheck
(www.mancheck.com). It has used the Adult Check model (even the logo
is similar) and applied it to gay Web sites. In a pitch to get you to sign
up, it offers streaming xxx video and live chat with your Mancheck Plus
There are about 30 or more of these services, (that I know of) all with
different gimmicks and selling techniques. Some offer personals, “exclu-
sive pictures,” etc. A lot of them even “protect” the same sites.
If you plan to purchase a membership I’d advise you to do some
research. Look at some of the sites that they “protect.” Go to the links
list and have a gander. Find an AVS that has as many sites as you think
you would like to be able to view. An experienced surfer will realize that
most of the content is very similar. If you are inexperienced (and horny)
you’ll sign up to the first site that gives you a woody.
One last bit of advice —— if you do sign up for a service, make sure
that you sign up for the membership that you want. For instance, the
default on the Mancheck sign up form is a two—year membership (with
video) for US$24.95 but clicking on the option button will reveal that a
one year membership (without video) is also available for US$16.95.
Whatever you decide, don’t sign up for a lifetime membership. Do
you really think these companies will exist 60 years from now?
As a result of COPA, some free services have been created. They
require your credit card number but not the expiry date and will not
charge you anything. Free Check (www.freecheck.com) and Cyber
Bouncer (www.cyberbouncer.c0m) are the first two that I came across,
but I see new ones popping up weekly. HunkHunter
(www.hunkhunter.com) is one site that will be using these types of ser-