This past Sunday, March 21, The Technology Awareness Group (TAG), in conjunction with the Chazaq Organization, visited the Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood where technicians offered filtering services as a community service for computers, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and many other digital devices. TAG experts install applications that either block or filter the devices, enabling their users to retain sacred Jewish values. The specialists are keen to filter all devices from Androids to iPhones and tablets to iPads, or computers like laptops or Macs. “We will even remove the browser from a 4G flip-phone,” explained the tech. Founded in 2014, the group now boasts 50 offices in 16 countries that are staffed by over 400 volunteers and staff. TAG has cemented itself as an international leader in the industry of “koshering” an electronic device.
The Sunday evening event brought the signature TAG Mobile truck to the front of the Chazaq office at Main Street and Jewel Avenue. “It was a privilege to host TAG outside of our office,” said Robbie Aboff, Chazaq’s events coordinator. “Those who visited the vehicle became aware of the potential pitfalls and dangers associated with technological devices and were provided up-to-date and reliable filtering services utilizing the most advanced resources available.”
While the technicians did not try to convince device owners to remove apps, they did shed light onto areas of probable harm. “Telegram is very problematic,” I was told by my wonderful tech. When WhatsApp announced changes, users sought to learn if options like Telegram and Signal were practical replacements. Again, I was told, “The short answer is no. The long answer is also no.” Further research revealed that WhatsApp and Signal share nearly identical terms and conditions related to privacy, and a switch would not have a desired effect.
Telegram poses a strong threat to the frum world. The app is a free-for-all with an “open to the public” philosophy. The app allows one to search for groups to join, and morphs their unclean content with misleading titles that lead one to believe they are joining a clean group. One can easily join a group promoting the sale of illegal drugs, adult content, and other dark Web content. Even if one is trying to avoid joining such groups, they can mistakenly end up joining these groups – a catastrophe for a frum individual. The app also has a nearby feature that allows one to locate people in their area. This, as well, can have undesired and devastating effects. Lastly, the app promotes the transfer of large files. This danger has been noted by leading rabbanim who fear such a feature encourages uncensored material to be easily shared. Although this concern might seem farfetched, it has unfortunately become a reality; the threat to the Torah world is real.
TAG gives two options and works with clients to choose the most appropriate device-filtering coverage. Netspark’s patented real-time content-filtering will seamlessly prevent unwanted content on all your devices, using a simple, advanced filtering solution that can customize one’s Internet experience to enjoy browsing with peace of mind. Netspark also offers screen time management, where you can schedule break and set limits. At the event, one gentleman already had a computer with Netspark installed, and now came with another computer that he hoped to protect for a different child. He was also engaged in a telephone conversation with a friend from shul, explaining the benefits and flexibility to keep his family safe when online.
I was advised to install GenTech Solutions app on the device I brought in, as their powerful filter system and its use of artificial intelligence would best keep my mobile device continually safe and secure. GenTech can remove unwanted content while leaving the device operator with a streamlined, efficient, clean, safe user experience.
By Shabsie Saphirstein