Gogul (sound familiar?) a new browser project specifically designed for at safe-searching and surfing for children has launched in Russia – but it has shades of China’s infamous Green Dam project. The new online service, consisting of a search engine and Internet Explorer add-on, allows parents to control their kid’s internet access – in other words it’s a kind of Net Nanny software. This allows parents to set the schedule and duration of their child’s internet usage and get the detailed statistics of the pages they visit. It’s pretty standard stuff in this realm. In addition Gogul (love that name!) will only provide access to pre-approved pages and will prevent the launching of any new browser windows that aren’t ‘on the list’.
But parents aren’t fully in control here. The “approved content” consists of over 7,000 Russian web sites which are filtered by a select and slightly shadowy team that consist of parents, professional child psychologists and teachers. The backers of the project are planning to categorize web-pages on an age-based basis and provide additional features till the end of the summer when the new school season will start in Russia.
The browser software is free now, but there are hints that it could become a commercial project. Why? Well an unknown benefactor has invested 15 million rubles (350,000 EUR) in Gogul – so one wonders of they are just doing it for the good of the kiddies?
Gogul has already provoked a lot of – largely negative – feedback on Russian forums, usually related to the controversial design of the website and software, it’s name and ideological connection with an infamous government project called School Portal. As an indication of how draconian this is, there are no search results for the work Putin in English or in Russian.