LDS Extended Access is quite restricted

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aebrown
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LDS Extended Access is quite restricted

Postby aebrown » Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:49 am

A clerk brought to my attention that the LDS Extended Access filtering of the Meetinghouse Internet program was blocking a lot of sites he thought was reasonable. The examples of blocked sites he listed seemed so ridiculous that I did not believe him at first. However, I did some testing on our building that has LDS Extended Access, and I verified that the following sites are blocked:


Apparently the filtering is category based. I gather that ldsmediatalk.com is blocked because all social networking or talk sites are blocked. Any uncategorized sites, such as ldsclerks.org are blocked. I would guess that byubroadcasting.org is blocked because it has media content, just like youtube does. I can't figure out why ldscatalog.com is blocked, since I can go to other online ordering sites, such as some of those I use to purchase computer hardware and software. However, it's comforting to know that I can go to msn.com and see the latest entertainment news on Brittney Spears. In other words, the filtering is aggressive but inconsistent.

I certainly want the filtering to protect users from harmful sites, and I know that it is always difficult to strike the balance between protection and reasonable access. But when those last two perfectly harmless, and quite useful sites are blocked, and furthermore they are sites owned by the Church, I think the balance is tilted way too far on the side of protection.

I had assumed that LDS Extended Access would be similar to the filtering that is used in Family History Centers, but it is much more aggressive in its blocking. Does anyone know of a process we can use to request adjustments to the filtering? In its current configuration, it is preventing clerks from doing very reasonable clerk work.

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Postby LakeyTW » Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:01 pm

Alan_Brown wrote: Does anyone know of a process we can use to request adjustments to the filtering? In its current configuration, it is preventing clerks from doing very reasonable clerk work.


I believe there is a link from the block page to request access to a site be reviewed.

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Postby jdlessley » Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:00 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:I had assumed that LDS Extended Access would be similar to the filtering that is used in Family History Centers, but it is much more aggressive in its blocking.
This is strange because my understanding is that LDS Extended Access is what is being used in family history centers. There should be no difference for LDS Extended Access for non-CCN internet access.

Did you try the sites you mentioned on a family history center computer? Were those sites blocked on the FHC computer?

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Postby aebrown » Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:14 pm

jdlessley wrote:This is strange because my understanding is that LDS Extended Access is what is being used in family history centers. There should be no difference for LDS Extended Access for non-CCN internet access.

Did you try the sites you mentioned on a family history center computer? Were those sites blocked on the FHC computer?


In our stake center we are connected to the CCN in the FHC. I connect regularly to several of those sites (in particular, ldscatalog.com and ldsclerks.org) in the stake center just fine.

Where did your "understanding" come from? I have to admit that I made that assumption as well, based on some things I had read, but no documentation I can find ever actually says that. So I may have once said something along the lines of "there should be no difference for LDS Extended Access for non-CCN internet access," but that was not based on experience or documentation.

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Postby jdlessley » Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:26 pm

In my communications with GSD/OTSS technicians while trying to solve other wireless network issues. I asked about filtering and that was their response. I was told that the LDS Extended Access was set up in the PIX, or other firewall device, using the "standard" configuration for that type of filtering. Only when a unit requested additional sites to be added to the filtering or exempted from the filtering was there any difference.

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Postby aebrown » Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:43 pm

jdlessley wrote:In my communications with GSD/OTSS technicians while trying to solve other wireless network issues. I asked about filtering and that was their response. I was told that the LDS Extended Access was set up in the PIX, or other firewall device, using the "standard" configuration for that type of filtering. Only when a unit requested additional sites to be added to the filtering or exempted from the filtering was there any difference.


Well, that's a nice theory, and I wish it worked that way, but I have incontrovertible evidence that LDS Extended Access blocks at least half a dozen sites that the CCN PIX allows, at least in the installations in our stake. I'm sure I could find dozens more if I cared to spend the time. I also have a report from a stake clerk of another stake that confirms the same behavior (he's the one who raised the issue in the first place).

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Postby jdlessley » Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:53 pm

So I guess that there really is no "standardized" LDS Extended Access.

Do we have a Church employee that is willing to address this?

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Postby lajackson » Sun Jul 13, 2008 8:48 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:I have incontrovertible evidence that LDS Extended Access blocks at least half a dozen sites that the CCN PIX allows


Are you sure that you actually have LDS Extended and not the more restricted version?

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Postby aebrown » Sun Jul 13, 2008 8:54 pm

jdlessley wrote:So I guess that there really is no "standardized" LDS Extended Access.


I suppose that could be. However, I wouldn't reach that conclusion until someone could report an instance of an installation of LDS Extended Access that can successfully hit the sites listed above. Unless that happens, it seems more likely to me that LDS Extended Access is standard, but different from FHC filtering.

So, anyone out there with an installation of LDS Extended Access: can you hit those sites?

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Postby aebrown » Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:00 pm

lajackson wrote:Are you sure that you actually have LDS Extended and not the more restricted version?


I am 100% certain. Not only is it what I asked for and GSD confirmed that they configured, but when the block message is displayed, that message explicitly states that the filtering level is "LDS Extended Access".

I have to chuckle, because the questions people are asking me are almost exactly the same questions that I was asking the clerk who originally reported this. It is indeed a little hard to believe, and I didn't believe it myself, until I actually tried it.

Do you have the ability to test it in your stake? If so, I'd sure appreciate some additional evidence, either to confirm or disprove if what I am seeing is generally true or an exception. But thus far, of the actual tests I have ever heard a report of, 100% (2 out of 2) do what I am reporting. I'd love more evidence, as I am well aware that a sample size of 2 is not statistically significant.


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