The Problem

These days, more men and women are becoming addicted to viewing pornography on the Internet.  Web sites offer free glimpses into enticing worlds of sexual immorality, and the anonymity that the Internet has to offer provides a way of indulging in those desires in the privacy of your own home without the worry of getting caught by their spouse or other loved ones.  As a result, when the addiction is discovered by someone else, it often has such a devastating effect that families are destroyed as a result.

The Solution
Accountability Pal monitors your network and keeps track of who is using the Internet and what they are viewing, downloading, uploading, etc. It emails a report (in PDF format) of each user's activity to the person/people you specify. I originally wrote Accountability Pal to allow people with addictions to porn sites to become accountability partners. There are commercial services that do this, but they usually charge a monthly fee of $10 or more.

The other accountability tools out there, run on the PC's being "watched" and can be easily circumvented by the user. Accountability Pal is designed to be run on a Linux server where users can't simply disable the software running on their PC.  A Windows version is on the way as well that will be designed to be more secure than just an application running as an icon on the task bar.

It monitors World Wide Web traffic, Peer-to-Peer file sharing, and more. It uses a plug-in interface to allow others to easily add new protocols to its monitoring abilities.

The primary reason for making Accountability Pal open source is that I believe something like this should be inexpensive/free for individuals to use. So many people could use something like this, but most of the commercial products are a service rather than a cheap one-time purchase.

Accountability Pal is designed to run on a separate server, mainly as a way of making it tamper-proof by its users. For example, 2 people who are keeping each other accountable for their surfing habbits could set a two-person password on the server so that neither one could modify the software without the other one around. Parents won't have to worry about their kids disabling the software, etc.

Linux runs on such cheap hardware, and this program requires so little processing power, that people can spend very little and have all they need to monitor their network.
Why Not Block Bad Sites?

Over the years, blocking software such as CyberPatrol, CyberSitter, and Net Nanny have been unable to solve the problem of porn addiction.  The main problem is that they don't block everything out there, and the parent is always having to update the software every time a new site goes online.  I personally don't know of anyone who wants to maintain a massive database of bad Internet sites.

The other major problem with these programs is that there are so many known loopholes and ways around these filters.  There are several sites devoted to disabling these programs that it's not worth trying to filter out the bad sites.

Lately, the trend has been to move towards accountability software, where 2 or more friends with the same addiction agree to become accountability partners.  This is a far stronger approach than simply blocking access to certain sites because it forces the issue to come up in conversation when one person or the other stumbles in their fight against pornography.  It is not meant to be confrontational, but to be uplifting and encouraging in breaking the cycle of addiction.