IT: SmartFilter stupidity - school sites as SEX

Seth Finkelstein
Tue, 17 Sep 2002 23:48:20 -0400

[Archived at ]

SmartFilter stupidity - school sites as SEX

On September 18 2002, several civil-liberties groups are sponsoring an
event focusing on the impact of a Federal censorware law (CIPA) as
applied to schools:

School Communities Give Internet Filtering Law Failing Grade
Research Reports Thousands of Sites Incorrectly Blocked

I'm speaking at the Boston-area press conference. So for talking-points, I
decided to bring a few more egregious examples to the party. The twist here
is that these aren't websites useful in school, but are schools or
school-related themselves. And they are all blacklisted as "Sex".

These are from SmartFilter, the censorware program made by Secure
Computing. I used that censorware because it's a different program from
those examined in the report above, and I had some work handy from the last
set of ridiculous censorware examples. Virtually all censorware
programs have such problems.

Some school sites banned as "Sex" by SmartFilter, September 17 2002: 
[My comments in brackets]
Creekside Village School - "... ages 6 weeks through kindergarten"
[Not clear why this was blacklisted, maybe it's a combination of all
the mentions of "child" and "free expression" - as in "We encourage
active play, free expression ..."]
Dennison Academy, Adult Education, High School Diploma Programs
[Obvious - "Adult Education" "... adults and qualified minors ..."]
Homeschooling at The Trent Schools
[This is an odd one - maybe too many references to "child"]
Kirshner Driving School
[Bingo, a killer keyword: "... teen driving, teen drivers ...". ]
[I can't read a word of it, but it's obviously not a porn site. One day
I'll figure out exactly why these sorts of sites show up on censorware
blacklists. My current theory is that the oriental characters just
happen to form some byte-sequence which has something along the
lines of "XXX" in English characters. Again, that's just a theory.]
New Hampshire Homeschooling Coalition
[While one might be tempted to think SmartFilter has something against
Homeschooling, I suspect the answer is less obvious. But I don't know
what it is. Maybe because the pages link to a tracking system called
"", SmartFilter tends not to like the word "Extreme" ]

These can be verified to all be considered "Sex" by SmartFilter, by using
SmartFilter's lookup form at or by just
clicking directly on the following Quick-check URLs:

Seth Finkelstein  Consulting Programmer  sethf[at-sign]
Anticensorware Investigations -
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog -