LUKASKO: Keyword-based firewall censors blindly
April 3, 2017
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Roseville High School recently upgraded the school’s web filter in an effort to increase bandwidth. The web filter is so also much stricter than the previous filter, accidentally blocking many appropriate websites such as the New York Times, Vox, CNN, and for a short while, YouTube.
The filter largely operates on a keyword system to tell it which sites to block, instead of what pages. Of course, when a new filter like this is implemented into schools, the filter needs to be tailored and fixed as problems regarding what sites get blocked inevitably occur.
Bandwidth is essentially the speed at which information comes and leaves your computer (basically internet speed).
Officials have indicated that certain activities, such as listening to music using Spotify, have been blocked to save bandwidth and improve network speeds. If you’ve used the network since the filter was implemented, you probably haven’t noticed a bump in network speeds and it’s probably still painfully slow for you.
However, an increase in bandwidth makes the network more reliable. It also allows more devices to connect to it, solving issues created at peak hours of network usage, such as during lunch when everyone is on their phone and trying to connect while half the school is still in class working.
There is not a super effective way for someone to measure this but the reasoning behind the measures is sound. Classes should absolutely have priority over network usage.
The incredibly arbitrary system of blocking that the filer uses is counterproductive for students using the network and the needed fixes have not come yet. Here we are, still waiting a few months time after the filter’s introduction, with no helpful changes.
Blocking a website based on a few words the filtering system has deemed “inappropriate” or “lewd” is ridiculous. Students can drive cars to school, take college levels, and get lectured about maturity by self righteous teachers, yet they can’t see an entire site because of a few “bad” words. Quite the double standard.
I am not making an appeal to freeze peach but rather one to good sense. It’s impractical to block websites in this fashion. Where is the human oversight with this filtering?
Why weren’t reputable websites like YouTube already on some sort of whitelist?
That’s not too much to ask. The current implementation isn’t responsible and is an embarrassment.
Students that notice an unnecessary ban (e.g. CNN) can’t easily point this out to administrators or IT.
Why do I have to hunt down IT’s email, when I could click a button or notify my teacher?
Why don’t we have a solution for reporting websites that were not meant to be blocked?
A ticket process needs to be introduced, where a student can inform a faculty member with little effort required.