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On-Line Companies To Offer Guidelines for Internet Use

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Six of the nation's largest on-line services have announced plans to create and distribute to parents free materials that will promote "safe and responsible" use of telecommunications.

The heads of the companies involved in the coalition announced the initiative, called Project OPEN, or the Online Public Education Network, at a news conference last week in New York City.

The project has begun its education campaign with the publication of a brochure called "How To Get the Most Out of Going Online." It contains definitions of basic computing terms and background information for parents who may be unfamiliar with the world of cyberspace.

Project OPEN, a spokesman said, will also produce materials and public-service announcements about on-line privacy, consumer protection, and the application of intellectual-property laws in the new medium--an issue of particular interest to educators.

Daniel Hesse, the senior vice president and general manager of the AT&T Online Service Group, a Project OPEN member, said at the news conference that helping educate parents has become more important as more and more parents invest in home computers.

"Very few would want to keep children away from the tremendous capabilities that are available to children through on-line service," Mr. Hesse said.

But, he added, "because no one owns or controls [the Internet], parental empowerment and parental control is essential."

Members of the coalition said they also came together in part to respond to a new federal law, which has been challenged in court, that makes on-line transmission of indecent material to minors a crime.

Widespread Support

Among the participating companies are America Online Inc., Prodigy Services Co., the Microsoft Corp., CompuServe Inc., and NETCOM Online Communications Services Inc.

Several national education organizations have endorsed Project OPEN and have agreed to distribute materials produced by the coalition. Among them are the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association's Institute for the Transfer of Technology to Education.

Copies of the project's brochure for parents may be ordered by calling (800) 466-OPEN.

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