It is my task today to provide you with the What, When, How and Why of Internet Filtering plus open a discussion given the relevant background of Where to from here?
What is Internet filtering?The filtering of the Internet is the technical approach that is taken to screen and exclude access to Web pages or e-mails that are deemed to be objectionable or inappropriate. This can be done at a National, State, corporate and/or individual level.
There are two main ways in which the Internet is filtered (Ayer, 2004). The first of these is what is usually adopted at a National or State level and that is the blocking of known “blacklisted” URLs. In this method as seen in the diagram a person requests a web page it then passes through the filter which checks whether the site is known, if it is a known “blacklisted” site the page is blocked. An example of this is if www.facebook.com is blocked then all domains related to this are also blocked eghttps://www.facebook.com/CSUstudentcentralIf known and allowable egwww.csu.edu.au the page is received and displayed on the persons computer (Deibert, 2008). If unknown and not on a list as either acceptable or unacceptable it is the administrators decision whether these sites are displayed or all unknown sites are blocked. The second method, which can be done in conjunction with the blocking of URLs, is the scanning of incoming data and blocking it if it contains undesirable key words, file types or other parameters. This can be a slower process as the page is first retrieved and then analysed thus this method requires more bandwidth.
All Internet filtering systems are designed to block material or sites that the “organisation” deems to be inappropriate or objectionable.So what is blocked? And why are we using Internet filtering?
Here is displayed the various categories that can be filtered out on many of the filtering programs.This example comes from Netbox Blue. In this particular case as in the case of many, it is the organisations decision which content is going to be filtered out.Many of the programs today such as this one, are sophisticated enough to allow for this filtering to be on a time of day basis. So that Social Media sites can be made available to staff and students out of work or school hours. In the case of our College this can be done if parents grant permission for the students to be able to access these sites out of school hours.. Netbox Blue also has the capability to monitor and collect information regarding who has tried and also who has succeeded in trying to circumvent the filters, thus breaking their AUP agreements. The program also has the facilities to monitor and record inappropriate conversations on the network through all communications 24/7 this they call “Safe Chat” (Netbox Blue, 2012).
But why do we have a filtering system on our computers? Some would argue that we are doing our students a disservice by not allowing them to have full access to all that the Internet has to offer whilst at school. To fully appreciate and make a sound judgement with regard to this we must first look at our legal and moral responsibilities as teachers. Almost all nations filter internet content in one way or another (Deibert, 2008)At a National level the Federal Government at the end of 2012 came to a agreement with the major telecommunication service providers to block approximately 1,400 websites that are being monitored by Interpol and which relate to child abuse and pornography material. This is a compromise on the initial plan that Kevin Rudd proposed when he won office in 2007 that would have seen the Federal Government establishing a Mandatory Internet filter throughout Australia. (ABC News, Nov 9, 2012). These sites will be reviewed regularly and the Federal Police will oversee the monitoring and enforcement of this filtering.
If the Federal government is filtering the “worst of the worst” then why are we also adding additional filters? There are a number of arguments. One being our duty of care. The Declaration of Rights of the Child, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1959 states that “the child by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safe guards and care, including appropriate legal protection…” (Forde & Solomonidis, 2009). The NSW Department of Education states in its code of conduct that As a teacher, “you have a duty to take reasonable care for the safety and welfare” of the students in your charge. “That duty is to take all reasonable action to protect students from risks of harm that can be reasonably predicted. For example, risks from known hazards and from foreseeable risk situations against which preventative measures can be taken. The standard of care that is required, for example the degree of supervision, needs to be commensurate with the students' maturity and ability.”
Our own College Code of Conduct (Rosebank College, 2013) also states that:Staff has a duty of care to protect the wellbeing of students and foster their interests. The standard of care needs to be commensurate with the maturity and self-reliance of the particular student. Before any activity is undertaken associated risks need to be assessed and addressed.From these two definitions A school and its teachers can be seen to be negligent if they fail to guard against risks that are foreseeable. These risks can be exposure to alcohol, drugs or pornographic materials that can cause both physical and psychological harm to students.Thus, the argument is raised that by blocking these sites we are reducing the risk to the students within our care. As we would do with any resource we would obtain to use with our students.
At present the level of filtering we have in place is commensurate with that of DET and CEO schools throughout New South Wales who also have blocked access to similar sites as ourselves and Social Media sites though this is currently being reviewed by a number of school groups. Whilst we can argue that ultimately Duty of Care responsibility lies with the Principal it is each teachers responsibility to ensure that they are providing a Duty of Care to their students. Thus, active supervision of students while on the internet is required. Currently in both DET and CEO schools if you wish a site to be unblocked as you feel it has educational worth then an application must go to a central authority that will judge whether the site is deemed worthy of unblocking.However, here as we are a private school if we find a site that we think is educationally sound and it is blocked we can apply to the IT Department who will unblock this site on our recommendation as long as it does not fall within the blacklisted URL sites e.g. has an active link to a blocked social media site etc. Thus putting a greater degree of duty of care into our hands as educators. It is also our responsibility under the duty of care to advise the IT department of sites that are currently unblocked and may cause risk or harm to our students, to have these sites blocked.
ProsFrom a Duty of Care perspective one of the pros of Internet filtering is that a safety net has been put in place to assist teaching staff to protect students from the more unsavory aspects of the Internet while under our care. Filtering of Social Media means that students are not being tempted to update their Facebook accounts whilst they should be involved in active learning.Numerous studies have shown that many high school students are not discerning users of the Internet and as yet are not fully aware of the implications of their digital footprint, so by filtering we are encouraging and assisting them in what should and should not be posted (Forde & Stockley, 2009).Filtering encourages responsible behavior by the modeling of responsible sites to visit, which are age appropriate.A good filtering program is approximately 85% accurate.Protects the system from malware and viruses.ConsUnless a well enforce Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP) is in place the use of filtering is counterproductive.If filters are set to high Internet resources are not available to teachers when they need them for instruction. (Adams, 2008)Gives adults a false sense of security that the students will not stumble upon inappropriate sites (Saubert, Desch, Winn and Kiser, 2011).Students are able to circumvent filtering systems if they really want to. By 2015 80% of those accessing the internet will be doing so from mobile devices (Johnson, Smith, 2011). “In the US alone 61% of Americans age 12 and up own a mobile device, and 44% specifically own a smartphone” (Johnson, Adams, & Cummins, M., 2012 p11) Filtering can be difficult and costly to manage, as users must continually upgrade programs so that it is able to stay abreast of the new “blacklisted” sites.The best program is only 85% effective so it is either over blocking or under blocking by 15%.May prevent access to relevant sites such as those dealing with sexual harassment or drug related information if levels are set too high. (Hitchcock, 1998).
So where do we go from here?It is important and vital that our emphasis is on a curriculum that is centred on safe and ethical use of the internet at all times (Adams, 2008). If we as a school work in a cooperative manner then the negative effects of filtering may be reduced and students may learn internet skills that will be useful throughout their lives. Just as other media we distribute to students is monitored under classification laws so to should the internet. By having some form of filtering I feel we are assisting students and also modelling good digital citizenship for them. Following are a number of questions to assist us in our policy making decisions with regard to filtering and where we are to go if we are to keep pace with the ever developing technology.
Adams, H. R. (2008). Filters and access to information part III, School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(3) p55, retrieved April 11, 2013 from http://technologyandschools.pbworks.com/f/Filters.and.Access.pdf Ayre, L. B. (2004). Filtering and filter software. Library Technology Reports, 40(2), 1+. Retrieved on April 25, 2013 from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE%7CA115036325&v=2.1&u=csu_au&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&authCount=1Cullen, S. (November 9, 2012). Governement abandons plans for internet filter. ABC News. Retrieved on 18 April, 2013 from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-09/government-abandons-plans-for-internet-filter/4362354Deibert, R. (2008). Access denied: The practice and policy of global Internet filtering. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Forde, L. & Solomonidis, R. Unlawful behaviour. Teacher: The National Education Magazine, October 2009. 52 – 55. Retrieved on 11 April, 2013 from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=156859019855682;res=IELHSS Forde, L. and Stockley, R. Techno Nightmare: Legal Issues for Teachers and Schools [online]. Teacher: The National Education Magazine, June/July 2009: 48-51. Retrieved on 16 April, 2013 from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=815614771442558;res=IELHSS Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Cummins, M., (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K – 12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report.Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Hitchcock, T. The internet in the classroom: separating the good from the bad, the ugly and the mediocre. School Planning & Management, July 1998: 37(7). 35-36. Retrieved on 15 April, 2013 from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/62466440 Netbox BLUE. (2012, May 9). Cyber Safe Schools. [Brochure]. Retrieved from http://netboxblue.com/sites/2012.netboxblue.com/files/Brochure%20-%20CyberSafeSchool-v1.9-May2012_0.pdfNetbox BLUE. (2013). Category web filtering [webpage]. Retrieved from http://netboxblue.com/products/cwfNSW Department of Education & Training (n.d). Employee responsibility duty of care. NSW Department of Education & Training code of conduct [PDF] retrieved on 18 April 2013 fromhttp://www.dec.nsw.gov.au/detresources/Duty-of-care_aINKBMeyYD.pdf Rosebank College (2013) Staff Handbook 2013 [PDF]Saubert, P., Desch, M., Winn, J., & Kiser, E., (2011) Internet filtering systems: A resource guide. [PDF] retrieved 28 April, 2013 from http://eekiser.iweb.bsu.edu/edtec_artifacts/470/470/assets/Booklet.pdf
Sourced from Ayre, L.B. (2004)URL & CONTENT FILTERING• The administrators can set to block or allow pages not found in the databasesPersonRequests WebPagePageRetrievedBlockedAccessDeniedAllowedPageDisplayedPerson Requests WebPageFilter ChecksDatabase for URLBlocked AccessDenied e.g.www.facebook.comAllowed e.g.www.csu.edu.auPageRetrieved Page DisplayedNot found*Content FilteringURL Filtering
WHAT IS BLOCKED?By StarrGazr on flickr under creative commons license.
THE PROS AND CONSPros ConsDuty of Care Unless AUP monitoredpointlessFocused use of Internet Resources not availableDigital footprint False sense of securityResponsible usage model Can be circumventedProtection from malwareand virusesMany students havemobile devices today
QUESTIONS?1. If part of our duty of care as teachers in particular is to have responsibilityto ensure that all necessary steps are taken for students to gain theknowledge and skills they require to become effective learners andresponsible citizens. And this includes, but is not limited to:• devising and supporting effective learning programs and evaluationmechanisms;• meeting the learning needs of students; (staff handbook)Are we doing this by using filtering?2. If we continue to filter the internet for students should we evaluate whatparameters we are using to block these sites? Whose responsibility shouldthis be?3.Currently the filtering program has the capability and does monitorstudents, conversations via email etc. if using the College laptops? Do wehave a Duty of Care to monitor this and if so, whose responsibility is it tooversee this?
SUGGESTED READINGSBy cellar_door_films on flickr usedunder creative commons licenseAyre, L. B. (2004). Filtering and filter software.Library Technology Reports, 40(2), 1+.Forde, L. & Solomonidis, R. Unlawful behaviour.Teacher: The National Education Magazine,October 2009. 52 – 55.Forde, L. and Stockley, R. Techno Nightmare:Legal Issues for Teachers and Schools [online].Teacher: The National Education Magazine,June/July 2009: 48-51.Rosebank College Staff handbook: Duty of Care
REFERENCES• Adams, H. R. (2008). Filters and access to information part III, School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(3) p55, retrieved April 11, 2013 from http://technologyandschools.pbworks.com/f/Filters.and.Access.pdf• Ayre, L. B. (2004). Filtering and filter software. Library Technology Reports, 40(2), 1+. Retrieved on April 25, 2013 fromhttp://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ps/i.do?action=interpret&id=GALE%7CA115036325&v=2.1&u=csu_au&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&authCount=1• Cullen, S. (November 9, 2012). Governement abandons plans for internet filter. ABC News. Retrieved on 18 April, 2013 from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-09/government-abandons-plans-for-internet-filter/4362354• Deibert, R. (2008). Access denied: The practice and policy of global Internet filtering. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.• Forde, L. & Solomonidis, R. Unlawful behaviour. Teacher: The National Education Magazine, October 2009. 52 – 55. Retrieved on 11 April, 2013 fromhttp://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=156859019855682;res=IELHSS• Forde, L. and Stockley, R. Techno Nightmare: Legal Issues for Teachers and Schools [online]. Teacher: The National Education Magazine, June/July 2009: 48-51. Retrieved on 16 April, 2013 fromhttp://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=815614771442558;res=IELHSS• Johnson, L., Adams, S., and Cummins, M., (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K – 12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.• Johnson, L., Smith, R., Willis, H., Levine, A., and Haywood, K., (2011). The 2011 Horizon Report.Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.• Hitchcock, T. The internet in the classroom: separating the good from the bad, the ugly and the mediocre. School Planning & Management, July 1998: 37(7). 35-36. Retrieved on 15 April, 2013 fromhttp://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/62466440• Netbox BLUE. (2012, May 9). Cyber Safe Schools. [Brochure]. Retrieved from http://netboxblue.com/sites/2012.netboxblue.com/files/Brochure%20-%20CyberSafeSchool-v1.9-May2012_0.pdf• Netbox BLUE. (2013). Category web filtering [webpage]. Retrieved from http://netboxblue.com/products/cwf• NSW Department of Education & Training (n.d). Employee responsibility duty of care. NSW Department of Education & Training code of conduct [PDF] retrieved on 18 April 2013 from• http://www.dec.nsw.gov.au/detresources/Duty-of-care_aINKBMeyYD.pdf• Rosebank College (2013) Staff Handbook 2013 [PDF]• Saubert, P., Desch, M., Winn, J., & Kiser, E., (2011) Internet filtering systems: A resource guide. [PDF] retrieved 28 April, 2013 from http://eekiser.iweb.bsu.edu/edtec_artifacts/470/470/assets/Booklet.pdf
PHOTO CREDITS• Photo from christianitycommonsense.wordpress.com, retrieved on 20 April, 2013 from http://christianitycommonsense.wordpress.com/tag/god-god/• Photo from christianitycommonsense.wordpress.com, retrieved on 20 April, 2013 from http://christianitycommonsense.wordpress.com/tag/god-god/• Diagram based on Chapter 2 Adams, H. R. (2008). Filters and access to information part III, School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(3) p55, retrieved April11, 2013 from http://technologyandschools.pbworks.com/f/Filters.and.Access.pdf• Photo from StarrGazr on flickr under creative commons license. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/tracylee/165431518/sizes/l/in/photostream/• Table from Netbox BLUE. (2013). Category web filtering [webpage]. Retrieved from• http://netboxblue.com/products/cwf• Photo from duncans photostream on flickr.com creative commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/duncan/478984969/• Photo from Tyler Ingram on Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license. Retrieved on 25 April, 2013 from• http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/laptops_class_Tyler_Ingram_flickrcc.jpg• Photo from Laurence OP on flickr Retrieved on 25 April, 2013 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/6206946182/sizes/z/• Photo from Nosha on flickr. Retrieved on 25 April, 2013 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/nosha/2466860959/sizes/l/in/photostream/• Self photo• Photo from Dave Bleasdale on flickr. Retrieved on 25 April, 2013 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/sidelong/41249775/sizes/o/in/photostream/• Photo from cellar_door_films on flickr. Retrieved on 25 April, 2013 from http://www.flickr.com/photos/cellardoorfilms/7747309714/sizes/m/in/photostream/