Studies

by Mike Masnick




Surprise, Surprise: Web Filters Still Suck

from the not-so-helpful dept

For years, we've been hearing stories about how schools and libraries need to install web filters (usually "to protect the children"). When the government first tried to require such filters in places like libraries, the courts struck it down, noting that the filters sucked, and not only would ban way too much legitimate content, but would also fail to stop an awful lot of the content it was supposed to stop. This decision was later overturned by the Supreme Court, though the dissenting decision pointed out that (like so many of these "for the sake of the children" policies), since the filters are so bad, it would lead to a false sense of security. In other words, such laws don't protect the children, they make things worse, by not teaching them how to be responsible surfers and makes parents think they don't need to be as vigilant over what their children do online. Of course, supporters of the law said that at least the filters did "something" and they would get better over time. Still, if that "something" is only a false sense of security, that doesn't seem very useful. As for the filter improvements, a new study has found that the filters still are dreadful, blocking all sorts of information that should never be blocked (much of it, based on ideological viewpoints, rather than what's required by the law). The report notes that it's unlikely that the law will be repealed any time soon (and, as we've noted some politicians are looking to expand it to cover social networks and instant messaging as well). However, it does suggest no longer using filters that include blocks based on ideology as well as making sure blocked sites are clearly explained, along with instructions on how to remove the block, if it's determined to be in error. In the meantime, parents go on thinking their kids are somehow "safe" while those kids are probably getting around the filters anyway.

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  • identicon
    Allan, 18 May 2006 @ 2:15am

    Web Filters

    As the author notes the indiscriminate nature of web filters makes them both ineffective and problematic.
    I think that it is the parent the has the ultimate resposibility to ensure that their children do not recieve harmul content from the internet.
    The rest of us can take care of oursleves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jim, 18 May 2006 @ 11:14am

      Re: Web Filters

      I agree with the parents being responsible. But let me ask a question that I do not have the answer to. Which as an IT person for a large school district troubles me.

      What would you have the public schools do without filters?

      And let me make sure you understand the problems with some of the responses you are going to make.

      We should watch them when they are online. Fair enough, are the taxpayers ready to pay for the added staff? Of course not.

      We should discipline them when they are caught. Fair enough, are you ready for virtually all the students to be suspended...and then the district to go bankrupt when all the parents then sue?

      Should we just keep them off the internet? To be honest, that is about where my thinking is right now.

      I see all these articles bashing filters, yet no one takes the time to offer a real soluton.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike (profile), 18 May 2006 @ 12:19pm

        Re: Re: Web Filters

        I see all these articles bashing filters, yet no one takes the time to offer a real soluton.

        Did you read the entire post? At the end, it does have a bunch of suggestions...

        However, the most important one, which you don't mention, is TEACHING KIDS that the internet isn't always a safe place, and teaching them how to watch out for themselves and recognize when they're in danger.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        jack driscoll, 30 Mar 2007 @ 8:19am

        Re: Re: Web Filters

        we should just get rid of the internet completely destroy all the computers and the world will be a little bit better

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          omelet, 4 May 2007 @ 5:31am

          Re: Re: Re: Web Filters

          how about we only destroy yours and slash your tires?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Geek, 25 Mar 2008 @ 5:51am

          Re: Re: Re: Web Filters

          Computer's are a heavy part of life nowadays, in case you didn't notice. I'd go into detail of how, but it would take up the entire list. Just as the other people on the site who actually give a damn.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 May 2006 @ 6:10pm

    "At the end, it does have a bunch of suggestions... "

    Yes I did. And now I have re-read it three times. Please quote those suggestions. Because all I see is some vague suggestions on what kinds of filters not to use. And how to make sure they can get stuff unblocked as needed. We do that btw.

    Now, as for teaching kids......do expain how you want a High School teacher to teach a 16 year old boy not to surf for porn.

    Again, my question was, and is. What do you the public want the schools to do?

    Right now, today. How do you want internet access for your children handled at the school level.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Andrew, 29 Jun 2006 @ 4:59am

    Re: Re: Web Filters

    Honestly,

    I remember when I was 16 years old and looking for porn. um..I don't see a problem with it.

    And the best way to make a better society is to educate our children. Porn, okay fine I don't care about porn, boys will be boys and if they don't get it from the internet they'll just find their fathers porn collection, or use the Walmart lingerie ads. I think whats more important though is pages about Nazi's, the KKK and other extremist groups. I do believe in free speech and think that they should be allowed to express their beliefs, but there comes a critical time when raising children that they must learn to evaluate things for themselves. This goes back to the whole idea about santa, cartoons aren't real, movies aren't real, what do you believe and what don't you believe?

    the odds of a 10 year old stumbling upon a KKK page while looking for pokemon is quite small. But if the children are old enough to find the content, then they should be educated on how to handle it. After all, if they don't find it on the internet, they're going to find the racism in their community, on the TV, in movies, in newspapers and pretty much any other place. Eliminating their internet isn't a solution to the problem, just the plugging of a hole in the side of the boat during "The perfect storm".

    Education is the key, not censorship.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stute, 14 Feb 2007 @ 1:01pm

    They do "something" alright

    Bypassing filters in school taught me how to... Well... Bypass filters and do other such naughty things with a PC...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    carl denham, 30 Mar 2007 @ 8:17am

    filters suck

    filters suck

    Goodbye

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Get a life, 28 Sep 2007 @ 12:56pm

      Re: filters suck

      You are just saying that probably because you are sexial deviant or just a young person who wants to view naked pics

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Up yours, 25 Mar 2008 @ 5:55am

        Re: Re: filters suck

        Do you have any Idea how much the web filters block? Game sites, youtube, and forums to name a few. And despite popular belief, I don't beat off in public where the filters are used. Dumbass.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        electo, 19 Oct 2009 @ 5:33am

        Re: Re: filters suck

        not everyone who wants to get past these pointless blocks are perverts. The filters realy do block lots of legitamate sights and even if they do block legitamatly bad ones than kids will always find a way around it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    coby, 30 Apr 2007 @ 7:57am

    bebo

    hello

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, 17 Sep 2007 @ 4:28am

    me

    get me passed the school filter NOW!!!!!!!!!! bitch

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cricket, 15 Oct 2007 @ 9:45am

    all i wanna do is get on myspace during school!
    thats all i wanna do...my teacher always gives us work to do but, honestly its extremly stupid! but, no one else does there work in here either...help me out people
    love yall!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Reynold Hoek, 13 Sep 2011 @ 6:50pm

    The only thing people ever seem to focus on in these stories are the content blocking feature of web filters. Many organizations install systems like the M86 web filter in order to block malware, viruses, high-bandwidth sites, etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brett Keane, 8 Nov 2013 @ 8:02am

    Fuck The Children!

    Fuck the children! ... Literaly

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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