Internet Filter Blocked Educational Sites, But Left Open Porn

from the reverse-filters dept

The Australian gov’t has been pushing for widespread internet filters for a while, but perhaps they should take a look at some of the smaller scale tests being done in the country. Someone who prefers to remain anonymous, alerted me to the news that filters installed for high school students by the NSW education department were found to block educational sites, while letting porn flow through. Of course, with any filter there’s going to be some Type I and Type II errors, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. But, for some reason, there are many people who seem to think that filters must work, when they really tend to just give a false sense of security – people think that if filters are in place, they no longer need to worry.

Filed Under: ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Internet Filter Blocked Educational Sites, But Left Open Porn”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
16 Comments
ojkelly (profile) says:

This has become perhaps the most unpopular piece of policy in many years. Every single respected IT, hell any technologically inclined person can not only see how a filter like this cannot work. They can also see the horrifying slippery slope it starts.

Fact of the matter is, none of us are for it. The only reason it is still being pushed for is because “Senator” Conroy is trying to save face. I highly doubt they will get another term.

Thankfully the internet sees filtering as damage and simply reroutes around it.

NullOp says:

Filter

Someone actually thought a filter would work? You’re kidding, right?

Governments need to stop thinking they can control the internet. The net is the electronic life of this planet. No one can control where is goes. Politicians use it as a power platform thinking they can gain points by saying “look how much power I have.”

CStrube (profile) says:

Filtering

If they really want to filter the big bad Internet to keep the kiddies safe, why then don’t they just hire some people to physically be men-in-the-middle? Any web request from a filtered location goes first to some intermediary who would physically have to look at the page and either allow or deny the request. This would give them accountability for each request, as each allow/deny could be logged, and in the current economically tough times could get people off the unproductive dole and get them working on important things, like protecting the kiddies and showing the electorate that the politicians are doing something (wither or not it’s a good idea).

Seems like it would be a perfect plan from a politician’s viewpoint. Sure it would cost a lot, but it’s government money, not real money.

JB says:

Re: Filtering

Why not simply use a whitelist filter? Each domain/subdomain must be approved by a human and no other sites can be accessed. This is the only way to completely prevent access to ‘harmful’ sites. However, it does restrict access to many ‘useful’ sites.

It all depends on what the overall goal is. If your goal is to block any and all access to ‘harmful’ sites, then a whitelist should be used. If your goal is to block most access to ‘harmful’ sites, while allowing access to all potentially ‘useful’ sites, a blacklist should be used.

Or you could just educate people of the proper use of the internet when at school/home/work. There are many options available to monitor use and this could be used as a curb to direct people to use the tool wisely.

Spectere (profile) says:

Filter Fails

You say this like it’s something new.

When I was in high school we had the (in)famous Bess filtering system and it had a nasty tendency of letting kids go to hardcore porn sites while blocking the rest of us from researching.

After graduating I spent some time doing IT work for a different district and ran into the same problem. Doing any research was highly annoying because blogs (even ones from MSFT and the like) were blocked and we’d have to constantly authenticate ourselves to get to a benign web site.

I haven’t worked there for a few years now, but I’ve kept in touch with the system administrator from there. Guess what? Their response to their filters being inherently ineffective was to tighten them up even more. Way to go, guys. Way to go.

Sean T Henry (profile) says:

Re: Filter Fails

If any school uses filtering what should when a page is blocked there should be a form to request access to the page/site (pending review). Also to aid in research but “protect” the kids, disable all non-text elements for the page and block all calls to display those items from the domain/directory.

Then all kids could get off on is text porn.

Spectere (profile) says:

Re: Re: Filter Fails

Bess used to have a system like that, but they discontinued it for reasons unknown. It’s not like it was ever particularly useful; I used it once and it took about two weeks for them to approve the site.

Blocking images probably wouldn’t be too helpful. I recall having several assignments, even in the high school level, that required illustrations and/or photos in them. Cutting off access to them would certainly hinder any in-school lab work.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...