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> Date:    Sun, 2 Apr 2006 10:26:25 -0700
> From:    Mark Williams <markwilliams@MAKAW.NET>
> Subject: And a child shall lead them
> The student's ideas in the article Nancy cited have merit,
> but........   are districts going to hire a fleet of censors who will
> "review the sites", or will it become someone's job in addition to
> what they already do  (we know the answer to that one, don't we? <G>
> ).  The recording system the students suggests would have to have its
> results reviewed daily and action quickly taken if it were to be
> effective.  The sheer volume of sites to be reviewed in any but the
> smallest districts would lead me to doubt that "Lists of good and bad
> sites could be built up quickly, and students who abused the system
> could be punished."
This is why I recommend intelligent content monitoring. However, another
form of monitoring I recommend is to tell a class at the beginning of class
that at the end of class you will ask five students to print off their
history file also ought to be a very effective variable reinforcement
monitoring approach.

> I am NOT a fan of filtering programs.  NO filtering system is
> fool-proof or 100% effective, but I accept that, given the legal and
> social climate we work in, they are a fact of life for schools.  What
> is needed, IMHO, is a filtering system with both a black list and a
> white list that can be accessed locally by the librarian, so that an
> incorrectly blocked site can be opened, or a inappropriate site that
> gets through can be immediately blocked.  Failing that, several
> people at the distritct who are always available and have the
> authority to block or unblock sites that are called in to them by
> individual schools.  Way too many districts have completely given up
> their authority to some anonymous corporate entity in this
> must submit a request to the software company and wait for them to
> approve or deny your request.  The process takes at least a few days,
> sometimes a week or more.  By that time, the class(es) have moved on,
> or word of the 'porn site you can access' has spread throughout the school.
> Mark Williams
> Consulting Librarian
> Professional Services for Conferences, Districts, Workshops

I agree wholeheartedly with Mark's guidance -- except I would add one thing.
I think this approach is required constitutionally. If you look closely at
the US Supreme Court decision on CIPA you will find some very
interesting language. Review for the concurring opinions of Justices Kennedy
and Bryer. Both of them relied very heavily on the fact that it was
presented to them that filtering software could easily be overridden to
provide access to material that was inappropriately blocked. They reference
the ability to override in the context of adult access because this is how
the case was presented to them.

It is my opinion that the way filters have been implemented in the vast
majority of schools is unconstitutional because the district has not
provided for the ability to promptly override.

But the ACLU will not touch this issue because they are seeking to defeat
COPA -- a criminal law that requires sites with adult material to have age
verification systems. COPA would not be effective anyway, since the Internet
is international. But in the late 90's, the Internet civil rights folks
decided that they could use filtering software as a strategy to defeat
federal laws seeking to address online porn. The ACLU never presented any
evidence in the CIPA trial about the ineffectiveness of filtering because
this would have defeated their argument in COPA that filters are effective
and a less restrictive alternative to the COPA criminal law.


Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use

Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social
Cruelty, Threats, and Distress, a resource for educators, is now available
online at 

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