Internet Filtering

this if for education it will not tell you how to get around it but it will give a basic user a good undertanding of how it works...

don't laugh to hard. and please feel free to question my termenology

Now before I begin I must apologies if this paper shows internet censorship in a negative light, however out of my experiences and extensive research and the viewing of statistics, I have come to the conclusion that internet filtering as it is today is not doing what it is meant to be doing, thus this author is against it. Because this presentation is meant to be informative I will attempt to look at it from an unbiased point of view, then hopefully you can draw your own conclusions.

The "Internet" is the word used to describe the world-wide network of computers. The word "internet" literally means "network of networks". The Internet is made up of thousands of smaller networks scattered throughout the globe. On any given day it connects roughly 20 million users worldwide. The World-Wide Web is mostly used on the Internet; they do not mean the same thing. The Web refers to a body of information - an abstract space of knowledge available via the Internet, while the Internet refers to the physical side of the global network, a giant mass of cables and computers.
-Online Dictionary Encarta
Having access to the Internet usually means that one has access to a number of basic services: electronic mail, interactive conferences, access to information resources, news groups, also the ability to transfer files.
The World-Wide Web uses the Internet to transmit hypermedia documents between computer users around the globe. Much in the same way, nobody "owns" the World-Wide Web. People are responsible for the documents they author and make available publicly on the Web which is one of the reason we have filtering today.
Since the reader now understands what the internet is it is time to go more in-depth to understand how filtering systems work. One of the things that one needs to know as a restricted internet user is how internet censoring systems work. There are two basic web censoring strategies. Personal computer based software, or server based software.

Personal computer based software such as Net Nanny, Cyber Sitter, or Cyber Portal are software packages that can be installed on a personal computer. It allows the ability to control what is to be seen, or not seen

Server based software such as N2H2/Bess is a little different. These technologies are manly used in schools, libraries, or government facilities. To understand this process one needs to look at what happens when typing something such as into the web browser. would be labeled as a request. The request would then be sent to the internet gateway server or proxy. The gateway/proxy server then sends the request to Yahoo’s server. Yahoo would then connect to the requesting computer, reversing the process that the requesting computer connected to it. Yahoo would then send the web page requested.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how the internet works from a network, let’s look at how you are blocked from pages deemed inappropriate for viewing. First blocking software such as N2H2/Bess is installed on the internet gateway/proxy server. Once this is done the server begins to analyze every request for a website that comes through it. It does this using a combination of techniques.
*It checks if the site you requested is on the block list.
*If the site is not found on the block list the site itself is then scanned for a number of key terms such as adult, xxx, porn, nude etc.

Now that the reader understands how it works, it is time to understand why it is put into place. Mainly filters were put into place at schools and libraries because the CIPA (Child Internet Protection ACT.) had passed congress and was signed by President Clinton during his term. CIPA basically states that all libraries or schools receiving federal funding are required to have internet access filtered or-else the school or library would have to pay every cent of the federal funding back to the government . This is all well and good but the problem is not the ACT itself it is the companies that make internet filtering software.

Study Released on Internet Blocking in Schools
Filtering Software Overblocks and Miscategorizes Websites
Electronic Frontier Foundation Media Release
San Francisco, CA - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Online Policy Group (OPG) today released a study documenting the effects of Internet blocking, also known as filtering, in U.S. schools. The study found that blocking software overblocked state-mandated curriculum topics extensively -- for every web page correctly blocked as advertised, one or more was blocked incorrectly.
The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires all schools and libraries receiving certain federal funds or discounts to install and use a technology for blocking visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or in the case of minors, "harmful to minors."
"Restrictions on viewing constitutionally protected speech contradicts the primary educational mission of schools," said EFF Media Relations Director Will Doherty. "CIPA holds students and teachers hostage to Internet blocking software that does not and cannot fulfill legal requirements and likely prevents students from obtaining a well-balanced, globally competitive education."
Researchers analyzed the extent to which blocking software blocks information related to state-mandated curriculum topics.
The report drew the following conclusions:
• The use of Internet blocking software in schools cannot help schools comply with the law because schools do not and cannot set the software to block only the categories required by the law, and because the software is incapable of blocking only the visual depictions required by CIPA.
• Blocking software does not protect children from exposure to a large volume of material that is harmful to minors within the legal definitions. Blocking software cannot adapt adequately to local community standards. Most schools already have in place alternatives to Internet blocking software, such as adoption and enforcement of Internet use policies, media literacy education, directed use, and supervised use.
• Blocking software in schools damages educational opportunities for students, both by blocking access to web pages that are directly related to the state-mandated curriculums and by restricting broader inquiries of both students and teachers. Teachers and students 17 years or older (most high school juniors and seniors) should be exempt, yet suffer the consequences of CIPA implementation.
After testing nearly a million web pages related to state-mandated curriculums, the researchers found that of the web pages blocked, 97 - 99% of a statistically significant sample were blocked using non-standard, discretionary, and potentially illegal criteria beyond what CIPA requires.

- Electronic Frontier Foundation

more soon to come