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Utahn tries new tack in battle over Net porn

CP80 proposal would reroute all adult-oriented content to certain ports — like cable TV

Published: Thursday, Dec. 1 2005 4:40 p.m. MST

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OREM — Ralph Yarro says the Internet is a lot like the "lawless, wild West."

If that's the case, then the Utah County high-tech tycoon is something of a Wyatt Earp for today's family man — armed with a laptop and a diaper bag.

For the past 10 years, Yarro has been building and developing technology companies such as Altiris Inc. and SCO Group Inc. These days, Yarro and his team at the Orem-based ThinkAtomic Inc., a high-tech think tank, are putting that work on hold and using their technological know-how in the battle against Internet pornography.

"We started to kind of develop a concept (in 2003)," Yarro said. "The majority of my team, we are all hard-core technology businessmen, so we thought we'd take a look at it from that perspective. We're also fathers and husbands, so we care about this from that perspective."

The result is CP80, a nonprofit organization that proposes that the existing Internet infrastructure of ports and protocols be used to categorize all Web content into channels, allowing Internet users to choose the type of content they want to receive — much like cable television.

The group also calls for legislation to "support and empower its solution," making sure pornographic content is published only on adult-designated channels and putting laws in place to make pornographers who violate the law accountable, similar to the way the Federal Communications Commission regulates television and radio.

For the past three months, Yarro has spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C., where the CP80 Internet Channel Initiative is seeking political support.

Ralph Thomson, president and CEO of International Business Catalysts, has been lobbying on behalf of CP80 in Washington. He's been talking up CP80's blueprint with elected officials on Capitol Hill, as well as with the Department of Justice and the FCC.

"One of the things that we're finding is that CP80 has the right sound to it," Thomson said. "It's not a technology that has to be developed; the software and the hardware pieces are in place. Now it's just a matter of getting the policy in place so we can have at least some part of the Internet that is free of the filth and free of the degradation."

Yarro or members of the CP80 group have made presentations to Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, R-Utah, as well as state Reps. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, and Jim Matheson, D-Utah. The group has also had phone conversations with Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah.

"From my perspective, all of the local guys have been generally supportive," Yarro said. "We feel good about it."

In a statement issued last week, Hatch called Internet pornography a "clear and present danger to children and families," and he praised the efforts of CP80.

"We have to pursue creative and innovative solutions to this growing public health threat, and CP80 is one of the leaders in that effort," Hatch said.

Orem marriage and family therapist Jill Manning, who earlier this month testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution about the negative effects of Internet pornography on marriages and families, calls the initiative "a fresh, thinking-outside-the-box solution that we desperately need."

"It's effective, it's smart, it makes sense and it's a solution," Manning said. "That's what I love about it. When we're so focused on the problem, here comes along an innovative, fresh-thinking solution that makes sense."

The good news for consumers is that CP80 would be available for everyone to use — or not use — for free, Yarro said.

As a nonprofit, all of the costs associated with developing the CP80 Internet Channel Initiative — including payroll — have come out of Yarro's deep pockets.

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