Filtering software

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Discus: College Confidential Café: 2004 Archive: Filtering software
By Jcsmom (Jcsmom) on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 03:19 pm: Edit

I'm researching Internet Filtering software.

Please respond only if you have filtering software on your computer (at home or at school).

What do you consider to be the pros and/or cons of filters?

Do you consider filters to be censorship?


By Demingy (Demingy) on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 03:55 pm: Edit

Sorry, the only question I can answer is the last one because I personally don't have filtering software on my PCs.

I think that in the home, in businesses, and even in certain "public" settings filters are not censorship. I'm sure someone will disagree with me on this, but in those places people have a right to keep out content that they don't want. In my home, I don't want Playboy magazines and I don't consider it censorship to not buy them. If I'm watching a show on television that bothers me in some way, I don't consider it censorship to change the channel or turn it off. I also don't consider it censorship to just automatically delete spam.

By Kwtortoise (Kwtortoise) on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 03:57 pm: Edit

I think filters are censorship because they prevent everything from being viewed. Sometimes this can be a good thing, such as in elementary schools, when the kids are too young to be exposed to the innapropriate material on the web.

Throughout my schooling, schools have always used filtering software. Several times this has prevented me form accessing a legitimate website for research. We were not allowed to play games on library computers, even if it was after school.

I think the pros are it protects kids, and if parents have it at home, they may be more at-ease with having their kids online and knowing what they are doing. Cons are the invasion of privacy, and the blocking of legitimate stuff.

By Hunter1985 (Hunter1985) on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 03:59 pm: Edit

That's not censorship, that's choice...censorship is when someone else chooses for you.

I hate censorship, one area that I'm very liberal on. Although you should obey some basic moral codes and not go as far as the ACLU does (they defend some sick people), I just don't think seeing Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl will turn every child into psychos. Biggest. Overreaction. EVER!

By Demingy (Demingy) on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 05:27 pm: Edit

"I think filters are censorship because they prevent everything from being viewed."

That is false. Granted, SOMETIMES there will be some problems with certain sites being blocked even though they are research based, but filters can be set up so that doesn't happen very often. They don't "prevent everything from being viewed" unless the person who sets up the filter sets it that way.

It is choice because filters are customizable and they aren't a requirement. If a library sets up filters on their computers it is their right to do so (those are THEIR computers), and the same goes for schools and businesses.

By Jcsmom (Jcsmom) on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 05:54 pm: Edit

Thanks everyone for your replies!!

I agree with you, Demingy....there are always sites that slip through the filters.

One more question.....Do you think that filters lend a false sense of security? That parents/schools think they are protecting their kids with the filters so they are less involved in monitoring their online activities.

Thanks again!

By Demingy (Demingy) on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 05:59 pm: Edit

Absolutely. I think that parents should monitor their kids activities online as they would (or should) what they watch on TV. Of course this is age specific. There are many things that would look fine to an internet filter that could be a problem. Sadly a lot of predators also end up in chats that would seem okay for kids.....that's where the kids are that they're looking for (yes this is a generalization--but it does happen).

Unfortunately many parents do get a false sense of security when it comes to filters. Internet filters aren't infallible. Plus, parents should be involved in what their kids are doing anyway. It shows that they care and keeps the lines of communication open (yep, at least in the ideal world).

By Purgeofdoors (Purgeofdoors) on Friday, June 25, 2004 - 10:22 pm: Edit

Internet filters sure aren't infallible. As every library I've visited knows, anyone with semi-mediocre h4xx0r 5killz can get around the best of 'em.

By Gottagetout (Gottagetout) on Saturday, June 26, 2004 - 03:39 am: Edit

Sometimes. Sometimes the filters are on proxies upstream, however. To get around these, you must use a nonblocked proxy yourself. This isn't so hard to set up on a home computer to which you know the IP, but it is quite annoying -- and impossible to do if you cannot change the proxy settings on the browser/OS (although you could probably get around that with a boot disk, but at this point it's not even worth it).

So yes, internet filtering is censorship. I have no choice what to view. My parents pay taxes to the local, county, state, and (sadly) federal government to educate me. If a filter disrupts my learning experience, it is censorship. I can complain, but nothing is done. I can convince my school officials that a site is should not be filtered, but nothing can be done because the filtering happens all the way from the district to the state.

I'll give you an example: I help with my school's computer systems some. Frequently, when researching security flaws, patches, viruses, trojans, worms or anything else security related, I am disallowed access to sites under the category "Hacking". Also common is the blocking of sites that inform users about linux and open source software because they are also closely related to security. The major application used by my school/district/state is CyberPatrol Proxy (

Overall, I feel if there is specific localized control over filtering or the filtering is applied judiciously to only those who "need" it (elementary kids are probably OK with filtering turned on), then it is acceptable. Otherwise it is not.

In addition, the sheer futility of blocking software both from its easy circumvention on the client and from the nature of blocking via keyword, context, or site lists either overblocks or underblocks significantly.

Another example: Say I wanted to access pornography at school (why? I dunno.). I could do so by either locating a site that is unknown to the blocking software and then goto school and access it or by commercially hosting/hosting through a free service/hosting at home the content that I locate via other computer resources.

So, why should our government spend money on a crummy nonsolution?

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