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Why internet filtering can be a bad idea

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Why internet filtering can be a bad idea

#1Postby Eric777-p40 » Thu May 14, 2009 3:59 pm

Hi folks! I saw that other thread, and thought I'd share my experience with you guys.

Disclaimer: Everyone is different. What works great for one family may not be so great for another.

The problem: Kids surfing the web unprotected can stumble on icky stuff.

The worse problem: Kids may surf the web actively looking for icky stuff.

Given #1: Icky stuff is bad, harms spirituality, self esteem, respect, etc. Present and future happiness requires that it must be actively avoided.

Given #2: Especially for boys, hormones and curiosity lead to a desire to see icky stuff.

Given #3: The icky stuff is out there, and some of it will be seen at some point or another. There is no reasonable way to prevent this from happening.

Given #4: It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their children about free agency, choosing good or evil, temptation, self control, repentance, forgiveness, etc.

For my family, I wanted a solution that teaches my children to avoid the icky stuff. It must be esteemed as having no value. Scarcity of anything can lead to the perception that it has value, so I had to be very careful. I wanted to make sure that finding the icky stuff not turn into a challenge or a game! Rather, I wanted to teach my children to avoid it themselves, so that when they are elsewhere, out of my direct control, they won't be as tempted.

There are two parts to the solution:

The first part is a rule. All the kids know the rule. It's very simple. If they are using the computer, TV, or whatever, and they see something that is wrong, they have one and only one action, which must be done immediately: turn off the screen. If it's a computer, just turn off the monitor. Then come and tell mom or dad. Don't try to exit anything, just power off the display and come get us.

The second part is full visibility and accountability. I run a server at home that has two network cards in it. One connects to the internal LAN, to which the home computers are attached, and the other connects to the internet. This cheap little box (running the free debian linux) runs a transparent proxy (squid). It addition, it hosts my websites. The squid logs, which show all internet traffic, are automatically published to the website. Anytime, anyone can look at the logs, and see what websites were visited. Grandparents, friends, the bishop... whoever.

So far, we have not had any problems with accidental exposure, that I know of. It's become harder and harder to accidentally stumble on icky stuff in the past few years. We had one problem with some searches, which, due to the visibility, was quickly discovered, and led to a long talk, which was followed with what has so far been a long stretch of very good behavior.

We are on this earth to learn to choose the right. Preventing access to icky stuff has the downside that it may become perceived as desireable. I hope that the environment that I've set up teaches self-control and accountability. The icky stuff is out there, just a search away, but my goal is to prevent the search from happening, either in my network, or wherever else my children may find themselves.

I hope this is useful. --- Eric
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#2Postby steph.younger » Thu May 14, 2009 4:20 pm

Nice approach, Eric.

I get questions about filters pretty often, and usually end up not installing one. Normally, I just show the parents (not the kids) how easy it is to get around an internet filter and they decide that a more hands-on approach is a good idea. Relying on a piece of software to do our parenting for us is dangerous.

- Stephen
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Filtering is For Protection

#3Postby terrellthomas » Thu May 14, 2009 5:50 pm

I have found using a filter is just a help to protect those that do not want to stumble into bad sites. Free agency is still there even with filtering if a person wants to find bad sites they are going to find what they want. I found that you must be proactive and post active by monitor what is happening on your connection to the internet. I would not be without the proctection of filters. I have tried several the best I have found is built into Home Vista.
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Types of internet filtering

#4Postby Klarken-p40 » Fri May 15, 2009 5:14 am

There are four types of filtering that are possible/available:

  1. Black List - Blocking known bad sites
  2. White List - Only allow known good sites
  3. Dynamic Filtering - filter content on known bad content, keywords and phrases
  4. Personal filter/compass - personal knowledge of how to avoid and deal with trashy content.
It is true that the only filter that is portable into all situations is #4.

While it is possible to run without a filter and do okay, running without at least a basic filter is, IMHO, the equivalent of stocking your home with a full library of DVDs including all R and XXX porn titles but teaching your children not to touch them.

While it is true that any filter can be disabled or bypassed by a sufficiently technical user, people are foolish to have no filter at all on their home, work and personal computers.

Ads with phishing links and trashy ads do, and always will, exist on what are otherwise valid websites. This is true of almost all news and media websites as well as almost all wikipedia and educational type websites.

As for me and my house I prefer to keep the trash out as much as possible thank you. I block known bad sites at my routers and our computers run basic filters that log the traffic.

This is a personal choice but so are the movies we chose to keep in our home.

--Keith
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#5Postby atticusewig » Fri May 15, 2009 7:21 am

Klarken wrote:Ads with phishing links and trashy ads do, and always will, exist on what are otherwise valid websites. This is true of almost all news and media websites as well as almost all wikipedia and educational type websites.

As for me and my house I prefer to keep the trash out as much as possible thank you. I block known bad sites at my routers and our computers run basic filters that log the traffic.
--Keith


Do you filter out the trash Ads on the valid websites ?

I ask because I had just read about some controversy of a large
ISP wanting to implement a "Times Square Effect" on any
advertising on websites their subscribers log into.

Basically, the "Times Sqaure Effect" is the substituting of advertisements
on websites. It is so called, because in any movie that films Times
Square in New York the Advertisements on any video screens or billboards
are now digitally modified to only carry the advertisements companies have paid to appear in the film.

The article I read about the ISP warns that by substituting ads in a large-scale way, the ISP is breaking the business model for many of the websites.

On a small-scale way, however, it would be nice to replace ads with something like "Enlarge your...Testimony, click here to go to lds.org"

- Atticus Ewig
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#6Postby kennethjorgensen » Fri May 15, 2009 7:57 am

I started off by having my router record the web history and then did a FHE on the whole subject with the aim to promote self-control and accountability. I think it did the trick as we havent had any problems.

I must admit I have since turned to having a web filter as I felt it was easier, had peace-of-mind and came with a few extra's.
I would normally have done the web-filter via the router but with the K9 web filter product I have come to LOVE their time-grid so the web goes OFF at set times with no argueing :-)
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#7Postby mkmurray » Fri May 15, 2009 8:00 am

dkjorgi wrote:...but with the K9 web filter product I have come to LOVE their time-grid so the web goes OFF at set times with no argueing :-)

I think my Linksys router also has that ability built-in.
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#8Postby steph.younger » Fri May 15, 2009 9:52 pm

Let me be clear ...

I'm not opposed to using a filter - I'm opposed to the idea of installing a filter as a substitute for keeping your internet connection in a common area and using it responsibly. If you want to install a filter, and are willing to accept the fact that it doesn't and can't relieve you of your responsibility to keep your family safe, I'll be glad to help you out. I even have a favorite I'll recommend.

I wish people knew how easy and important it is to implement the solutions we're talking about - my ward is having it's second fireside in a month to discuss this topic and it is, quite honestly, a little depressing that we need two of them in so short a time.

- Stephen
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#9Postby kennethjorgensen » Sat May 16, 2009 5:31 am

scjayounger wrote:Let me be clear ...

I'm not opposed to using a filter - I'm opposed to the idea of installing a filter as a substitute for keeping your internet connection in a common area and using it responsibly. If you want to install a filter, and are willing to accept the fact that it doesn't and can't relieve you of your responsibility to keep your family safe, I'll be glad to help you out. I even have a favorite I'll recommend.

I wish people knew how easy and important it is to implement the solutions we're talking about - my ward is having it's second fireside in a month to discuss this topic and it is, quite honestly, a little depressing that we need two of them in so short a time.

- Stephen


Stephen,

I didnt get the impression anyone here is thinking of filtering as a substitute for their own responsibility but rather as a useful tool in addition so I assume you must be thinking of other people.

If you have any good tips that others can learn about to bring back to their own people then I think you should bring them out here. Lets hear your solutions, your personal favourites and bring up ways in which to protect against children bypassing your router filter.

if you are using slides for these two firesides then why not share those slides with the rest here. It can only start others to perfect your original ideas and thoughts and together we will come up with something that can be shared with more people.
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#10Postby steph.younger » Sat May 16, 2009 11:23 pm

dkjorgi wrote:I didnt get the impression anyone here is thinking of filtering as a substitute for their own responsibility


I didn't get that impression either, but that's a philosophy I encounter pretty often.

Usually, people call me too late - I get an earful of how their "teenager" (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't) must have accidentally clicked on something and now their computer is acting funny and they keep getting popups inviting them to visit explicit websites. So, I clean up their computer and lecture them on the dangers of giving their "teenager" easy access to smut.

As far as filters go, I've had pretty good luck with K9 (bluecoat), but although it works for me, it has some quirks that some people find irritating.

If you have a problem in your home, and it just isn't practical (really?) to supervise, install a filter, restructure your bios so it doesn't boot to CD, and review your logs.

I'm not speaking at the fireside, but I think a collaborative effort at putting together an educational piece is a great idea. A little "groupthink" is a good way to catch the flaws in a plan.

And while my first visit is free - my second is not.

- Stephen
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