[K12OSN] dansguardian filter

Christian Einfeldt einfeldt at gmail.com
Fri Sep 7 23:01:25 UTC 2007


On 9/7/07, Mel Wade <mel at melwade.com> wrote:
> We use and 8e6 content filter.  We whitelist some areas by category
> and black list labs with adequate supervision.  We have found it to be
> effective in blocking circumventors even in a blacklist environment.
> I would state that most filters do not block circumventors and thus
> you really are only filtering the honest or stupid.

I support a public middle school in San Francisco, and I concur with what
Mel is saying above, both as to the methods he uses as well as the
limitations on filtering.  I am also an attorney, and I explain filtering
this way to parents and administrators:  The US Supreme Court is unable to
come up with a one-sentence definition of obscenity.  Instead, they use a
balancing of factors tests.  So if the US Supremes can't define obscenity,
how is it possible for a filter to define it?

It is inevitably true that the most secure way for a parent to avoid
pornography is to lock the student up at home and never allow them to 1)
watch TV; 2) go out with friends; 3) go on the Internet; 4) read books.  Of
course, that is extreme, but the point is well-taken: sex is part of the
human experience.  It is only with constant vigilance and constant adult
presence IN THE ROOM that it is possible to minimize contact with
undesireable content, and even then, a few bikinis will sneak through, but
probably no bare breasts or posteriors.

Another way of putting it is that life is generally PG.  You can probably
cut the XXX stuff down to a 2% chance of encounter; you can cut the PG-17
stuff down to a 10% risk of exposure; but it seems as if you have a 90% risk
of exposure to PG-13 stuff, simply because that is life in the US.

The other thing that I tell parents and administrators is that, as George
Kocke says, we can trace their steps, and we will.  If you suspect a
particular student, take a few moments to follow their steps, and then pull
them off of all computer use for a period of time, according to the level of
their abuse of their privileges.

There is no such thing as perfect control, not even in a totalitarian state
like China, and certainly not in a democracy, not even in schools in a
democracy.   That is why it is so important to be involved in the kids lives
to prepare them so that they will make good choices when they inevitably
encounter undesirable stuff.
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