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Internet Filtering for Dummies

June 11, 2007

<rant>

Okay, I realize I work for an educational instution that must protect students from the dangers of the Internet because parents, teachers, and everyone else is too busy to teach our youth the difference between fiction and reality; however, I have a real problem when we set such wide catch nets to include almost everything under the sun. 

That problem is when these are applied to everyone because those involved are either too lazy or too incompetent to design the system to target groups.  We’re a full Windows 2003 environment with very finite levels of groups based on classification, location, and whether or not you’re staff or student.  Somehow, someway there has got to be a way to prevent a kindergartener from “bad bad things” and let adults, especially those that are not located in the schools (and far away from students’ prying eyes) do their job.

Why does this come up today?  It appears our Internet filters were beefed up over the weekend.  The sites that appear to be horrible now are:

  • XM Radio, Pandora (we’re a solid metal/brick building (our building is a nuke shelter)… there is no other radio except streaming).
  • Google Images, Google Gadgets (God forbid we have the weather on our homepage… this broke my Google homepage until I removed all of the gadgets, including my MBA graduation countdown *pout*).
  • Also, Google “Cached”, “Similar Pages”, and “Note this” no longer work.
  • Internet Wayback (VERY annoying since I use this constantly to see disconnects in site design or find now-unavailable information).
  • Various forums and such; though more and more, it appears to be links to forums, so I’m finding ways around this…
  • *angry face*

    Most of all, since I work with these individuals day in and day out, I find it disturbing that our own department didn’t take a minute to notify us of the changes. 

    From a student’s perspective, I’m embarassed that our organization society (this is inflicted on us at a federal level through CIPA) has reached the point that minute filtering is required to ‘protect’ people… rather than allowing everything and educating the differences between fact and fiction and allowing the future leaders of our world to make their own decisions.  We’re supposed to be guiding them—not hiding what we deem “wrong” from them and then expecting them to be able to “properly” handle it when they face it the first time.

    According to CIPA, the following is required for school districts:

    “(A)(i) has in place a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are—

    “(I) obscene;

    “(II) child pornography; or

    “(III) harmful to minors; and

    “(ii) is enforcing the operation of such technology protection measure during any use of such computers by minors; and

    “(B)(i) has in place a policy of Internet safety that includes the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are&endash;

    “(I) obscene; or

    “(II) child pornography; and

    “(ii) is enforcing the operation of such technology protection measure during any use of such computers.

    Which leads me to assume the the other services were filtered out because a) they cannot filter specific thumbnail images as such from Google Images or b) they want a way to prevent the traffic going across our wires and are using this as a cover.

    </rant>

    Categories: Education, Insanity!, Politics
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