December 11, 2003

Why not to get into the censorware evaluation game

Every so often, someone suggests that the American Library Association, or even myself, issue some sort of "lesser of all evils" evaluation of censorware. I have always thought that was a bad idea, for many reasons, including purely pragmatic grounds. Any such thing is going to quickly be promoted as an endorsement. Today an article Teacher resigns; allegedly looked at porn web sites demonstrates why:

Walker Schools Science and Technology Coordinator Wayne Robinson said a computer system, Bess, monitors all computers in the schools with Internet access. N2H2, headquartered in Seattle, Wash., produces the monitoring system.

"We use a filtering solution, which was deemed to be the best Internet filtering solution in the world by the U.S. Department of Justice," Robinson said. ...

The U.S. Department of Justice said no such thing. There was a study done for the U.S. Department of Justice, which also said no such thing. But that's the power of the press release.

Other (unintentional) good stuff :

"Our No. 1 priority is not about providing Internet access to the schools; it's about safeguarding the use of the Internet," he said.

Robinson said the software not only filters objectionable web sites, but monitors Internet usage, as well.

"Every time a machine has Internet access, a complete log is generated for the use of the Internet from that machine," he said. "It's a very extensive log. Every time there is a click of a button, that click is logged." ...

Although the schools are very well protected, some objectionable web sites will always slip through the virtual cracks, Robinson said.

"No software solution is completely fail-proof. I don't know if it's realistic to think that all objectionable sites can ever be completely blocked through any solution," he said.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on December 11, 2003 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
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