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Web Filters And Other Evil Doers


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Web Filters And Other Evil Doers

  1. 1.     The Problems with Web Filters.  
  2. 2. Types of filters. Black list filters These block access to "bad" sites which have been blacklisted.  White list filters These are the most restrictive, allowing access only to sites on a  list. Keyword/ content list blockers. These check sites for specific keywords and content, and block  access if present. Very often, due to the nature of this filter, sites with acceptable  content are blocked.
  3. 3. None are perfect. Black list filters - Can't possibly block all "bad" sites    4.2 million, or 12%, of all websites are pornographic*    Thousands of new websites come up every day. White list filters are so restrictive that the Internet is crippled. Keyword/ content list blockers very often block sites that have  no pornographic or unacceptable material.     Example - Yahoo Images blocked. *   Source:  Internet Pornography Statistics, retrieved March 21, 2009, at
  4. 4. What detriment do filters cause to high school students/teachers? Filters in high schools prevent student learning in different ways:   • Filtering blocks students from accessing websites to gather data or research for  school work when the site may be perfectly acceptable but the filter has blocked it   • Teachers may know of a great website to share with students or use as they are  teaching a lesson but it is blocked. This interrupts the lesson or the teacher has to  research another site to use.   • If the teacher needs to request a block be removed, this is not always done in a timely  manner. Often it can take up to three days.
  5. 5. What detriment do filters cause to high school students/teachers? How can and how do teachers at this level protect and monitor students if there is not a filter or even if there is one (they can't all be 100% perfect to achieve the goal!):   •     Teach students responsibility with consequences for misuse    • Use the internet in a learning environment and teach how to enhance learning, not  just "look stuff up"   • Communicate and let students know often what the policy is for internet use and be  sure parents are aware as well. What students do at home is not always appropriate  for the classroom!
  6. 6. The Emphasis is on Science and Technology • Our role as educators is to create a love of learning among our students  and to prepare them to enter the workforce to be productive, contributing  members of society.   • Having filters gives schools a false sense of control.  Tech savvy students will  find a way around the filters.     • We must educate our students on what is and is not  appropriate use of  computers.  A gradual release of responsibility must be given to students if  we expect them to be successful, independent learners. 
  7. 7. Education is Key!   • Implement clear guidelines on the expectations for appropriate  computer usage at school.  Create a culture that encourages and  understands the power of the computer as a learning tool when  used appropriately.    • Have clearly stated consequences for first and repeat offenders,  similar to other rules and school policies.   • Have the guidelines and consequences included on the Acceptable  Use Policy, which is signed by students and parents.  
  8. 8.  Filtering in Elementary Schools? Two schools of thought in support of the anti-filtering debate I.  Elementary schools should not be filtered.    • EdUCATE young students - teach students at a young age how to behave responsibly online  o Teach how to use the Internet to find the information they need and how to avoid useless/harmful sites o Build confidence and trust in children by using computers for online activities jointly with them   • Children should avoid bulletin boards and their chat rooms, where they are introduced to strangers  o Teach them to never give out personal information   • Students using the Internet should be supervised and monitored the same way they are when viewing television o Set and adhere to rules for access to the Internet   • Teacher-parent communication to ensure student safe Internet education and practice is occurring at both home and school
  9. 9. II. Teachers at elementary schools should not have the same restrictions that students do. • Teachable moments • Teachers surveyed do the majority of their planning/downloading of educational materials at home due to the stringent filtering process at their school o Currently, when teachers want to access something that is blocked, they contact the Network Administrator o The Net Admin then evaluates the site to ensure that it doesn’t violate any of the district’s Acceptable Use Policy o If it doesn’t violate the policy, the Net Admin would unblock the site o This process could take up to 48 hours o Teachable moment is long gone
  10. 10. Should your public library filter the internet?
  11. 11. Children's Internet Protection Act • CIPA, as it is commonly known, compels libraries that recieve federal assistance for internet access to filter computers with access to the internet to prevent access to obscene or pornographic images and prevent minors from accessing material that could be "harmful" to them. • In U.S. v. American Library Ass'n, 539 U.S. 194 (2003), the Supreme Court upheld CIPA, ruling that the First Amendment does not preclude Congress from attaching "strings" to benefits provided through federal funding. • One key: libraries are obligated to allow access to a specific website or to turn off the filter at the request of an adult patron.
  12. 12. Why Care If Your Public Library Filters? Filtering software is incapable of blocking only images that are pornagraphic or obscene (the specific focus of CIPA) because "the current definition of obscenity doesn't work on the Internet." Companies that sell filtering software do not disclose the types of things or the specific sites they block -- categories are described in 1 or 2 sentences so there's no way to know if constitutionally protected material is being blocked. In other words, you probably won't know that you can't access sites that meet your search criteria. Internet Filtering Software Tests: Barracuda, CyberPatrol, Filtergage, & WebSense, San Jose Public Library, April 2, 2008
  13. 13. Why Care If Your Public Library Filters? • Consider how the software company's definitions might affect content blocked in the "Tasteless" category, for example. • Current software is particularly ineffective when applied to images -- the filters tested either overblocked or underblocked significantly. Internet Filtering Software Tests: Barracuda, CyberPatrol, Filtergage, & WebSense, San Jose Public Library, April 2, 2008
  14. 14. Why Not Try Alternatives? • Locate internet terminals in public areas, especially near the checkout desk, and away from the children's area. • Install privacy screens to shelter screen images from casual passersby. • Australian Communications and Media Authority study concluded that educating children about online safety is as effective as filters in blocking access to inappropriate content and more effective at preventing fraud, illegal contact and cyber-bullying. o, February 26, 2008