Another source:

This was a press release issued around April 1999, by David Burt, then running the pro-censorware advocacy website "Filtering Facts".

Study of Utah School Filtering Finds "About 1 in a Million" Websites wrongly blocked



A study conducted by a group of anti-filtering activists called "The Censorware Project" of filtering in Utah schools has uncovered 205,737 blocked attempts in one month to access mostly pornographic websites. Of the blocks, only 64 websites did not meet the filtering criteria out of 53 million accesses, showing that misblocked websites were "about 1 in a million".

 The study, conducted by an activist who does not believe pornography harms children and has compared children viewing pornography to children reading the Bible, wrongly claims "hundreds" of websites are inappropriately blocked. Among the websites judged by the Censorware Project to be inappropriately blocked for schoolchildren were hardcore SM pornography sites, sites with recipes for making Methamphetamine and PCP, and on-line casinos.



In October of 1998, a group of anti-filtering activists called "the Censorware Project" obtained one month's worth of Internet access logs from the state of Utah. The logs represent all of the Internet access attempts by Utah's public schools connected to the Internet, and contained 53 million entries of Internet files accessed during September, 1998. The filter SmartFilters screened requests for Internet files, and the filter blocked 205,737 files.

That same month Censorware Project members recruited volunteers to review the list of 200,000 blocked sites. Recruitment notices for volunteers were placed on such anti-censorship electronic mailing lists as PeaceFire. The Censorware Project would not reveal how many volunteers participated in the 5-month effort to review the logs. The study is available on-line at


The report reduces the number of banned accesses by more than half to 95,059 by two methods. First, image files are removed, and two, websites that feature pornographic ads are removed. This massaging of the raw data causes serious problems.

 First, the report actually admits that attempts to access banned websites do not result in images being logged. When a user enters a URL for a banned website, say "", only the URL "" is recorded. No images are recorded as logged because the images are never loaded. Instead a "blocked" message is displayed. Page 8 of the report concurs with this assessment, "Load a page. The page is banned by Smartfilter and rejected. No images are loaded. The total number of access is one."

Since no images are logged in the banned access attempts, it seems reasonable to conclude that the remaining 111,000 banned access attempts were removed because they featured pornographic ads. These admittedly pornographic websites are removed from the sample because the project author believes that "very many of the original "Sex" bans were not caused by people looking for pornography by were banner ads, probably completely innocent." (page 9)

The author provides no evidence to justify his believe that websites displaying pornographic ads are viewed mostly by users who are not seeking pornography. Further, the author cites no evidence of any kind to reinforce any assumptions about user motivations and the viewing of pornographic ad sites. In this regard the report must be described as seriously flawed, given that the author has removed half the pornographic websites from the sample based on a belief supported by no evidence.


The report includes a lengthy discussion about the nature of the users, which is illustrated by several graphs. The author makes a great deal out of the fact that banned accesses, as a percentage of total accesses, increase during non-school hours. The author even claims this distinction is "crucial", and that it demonstrates that "high school students are much less likely to access banned material, or adults are more likely to." (page 7).

Obscured in the discussion and the graphs is that fact that the overwhelming number of banned access attempts occurred during schools hours. The report itself says that 182,600 of the 205,737 banned access attempts (89%) occurred during school days. The report does not reveal how many of the banned access attempts occurred during school hours, but in an e-mail message the primary author, Michael Sims, stated that about 500 out of 530 banned accesses (94%) occurred during schools hours on school days for a "typical day". Assuming this 94% for all "school day" accesses, that comes out to 171,644 attempts to access banned sites during school hours, or 83%. This also results in a figure of 161,218 attempts to access sex sites during school hours.

Further, the report provides no evidence to base assumptions regarding the ages of users during non-school hours. The report also repeatedly states that "adults are also subjected to this filtering". Eight public libraries use the Utah School filtering service, but the report fails to document whether or not adults are actually required to use this filtering. The only adults documented as using the Utah school filtering service are teachers and school staff.


The report has its more serious problems in its claim of "hundreds of wrongly blocked sites". SmartFilter blocks sites in Utah schools based on five categories, "Sex", "Criminal Skills", "Gambling", and "Drugs". The report lists 383 wrongly blocked sites. But many of these sites are listed multiple times, and when duplication is removed, there are only 279 individual websites.

When the stated blocking criteria was compared with the content of these 279 websites, only 64 websites clearly did not match the blocking criteria in use. (For a complete examination of the 279 websites, see

Some of the categories are indeed broadly defined and implemented. "Drugs" includes "information on the purchase and use of recreational drugs", which includes sites by beer companies and sites advocating marijuana use. "Gambling" includes sites that "encourage betting", including sites about casinos and lotteries. "Sex" includes "discussions of sex (including for example, sexually transmitted diseases, safe-sex, teen and pregnancy), bikini-clad women and men..." This results in site such as and the Sports Illustrated site being blocked. This type of broad blocking would be inappropriate for adults in a public library, but is perfectly appropriate for children in a public school. The well-established legal standard for the exclusion, even the removal of material from a classroom is that it be "educationally unsuitable", and these sites, while some of them would be legal for minors, would seem to meet this criterion.

Many of the websites listed as wrongly blocked are astonishing in this context. Numerous pornography sites, including those dealing with SM and other fetishes, sites with recipes for making Methamphetamine and PCP, and on-line casinos.

 Many of the "sex" sites blocked are in fact outright pornography sites. The site says on its opening page "This is a site designed and intended for ADULTS." Among the offerings schoolchildren would have access to would be "public exhibitionism", "glory hole girls", and "girls who shave smooth".

 Another place the author apparently deems appropriate for schoolchildren to visit is This collection of sexually graphic adult chat rooms contains such areas as " Analopolis- Anal Sex Chat", "Men in Lingerie-Cross Dressing Chat". has such offerings as " the doghouse - Dogslaves and their Owner/Trainers", and " leatherpage - Discussion of same-sex bondage and S&M interactions." shouts that it has for sale, "NEW BONDAGE & FETISH ACCESSORIES! Brand new XTC bondage pieces! Bras,G-strings, restraints, whips, leather hoods & more!" The author does not explain what course work these items would be suitable for. , a personal homepage, isn't a porn site. But it is a very graphic site about piercing, including a gallery of close-up photos of mutilated genitalia. states on its opening page, "If you are under 18, DO NOT Continue Beyond This Point!" Edos offers such offerings as " Memorable Experiences with Sexy Ladies of Porn, Part II", "Barely Legal Nymphos". features "Erotic Stories, Adult Video Reviews of New Releases and Sexy XXX Hot Links", including such titles as "110 All Star C**shots", " Anal Annie Just Can't Say No", and " Seymore Butts Mounts Tiffany". offers schoolchildren a special emphasis on fetishes: "Dungeons of Fun", "Mistresses and Slaves", etc. , contains a whole gallery of graphic, close-up color photos of mutilated genitalia. , a personal webpage of SM-related resources, including "the Seattle SM scene", as well as such works of pornographic SM fiction as " Aaden's Punishment",

Among the sites blocked under "drugs" are which includes "Chemical Synthesis - this plus a chemistry degree is all one might need to manufacture illegal drugs" - recipes for LSD, Methamphetamine, PCP

It is difficult to understand how the primary author of the report, Michael Sims, could feel that these sites are appropriate for children in a school setting. An examination of the author's e-mail postings offers some insights into the values that he applies to such judgements. Mr. Sims has often said he does not believe that pornography harms children. In one recent post to the librarian's discussion list PUBLIB, Mr. Sims compared children viewing pornography to children reading the Bible:

 [PUBLIB] Re: Internet Porn
Michael Sims (
Tue, 26 Jan 1999 07:06:19 -0800 (PST)

> I found out that Saturday one of our regular kids was caught in a
> porn site by a patron. The Reference Librarian was at lunch, so
> the patron had to go into the Childrens Room & get the Childrens
> Librarian.

 Yeah, the other day, at a library I frequent, I caught a kid looking
at Christian literature and had to get the librarian to make him put
it down and escort him out of the library. Impudent kid. Can you
imagine the nerve? If I hadn't been there, he might have made it all
the way through Genesis.



 Under closer examination, only 64 sites out of 205,000 blocked do not meet the stated criteria for SmartFilter. When one considers that 53,000,000 Internet files were accessed, that is close to "one in a million". Contrary to the claims of the report's authors, the results presented show that the filtering employed by the state of Utah using SmartFilter performs largely as advertised, and that "bad blocks" are in fact quite rare.