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Infopeople Webcast Series. Technology Tuesdays: Internet Filters.

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infopeople webcast series

Infopeople Webcast Series

Technology Tuesdays:

Internet Filters

Infopeople is supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian. Any use of this material should credit the author and funding source.

internet filtering what have you done for me lately
Internet Filtering: What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

12 Noon to 1pm

Presenter: Lori Bowen Ayre

technical housekeeping
Technical Housekeeping
  • No handouts, just PPT and
  • Use Chat window to ask questions or post to group
  • Click IM button to send a private message
  • For technical problems, send IM to HorizonHelp
  • Evaluation pops up during Q&A; please fill it out
  • Webcast is being archived; will be available on Infopeople’s website tomorrow
agenda for today
Agenda for Today
  • Review
    • filtering basics
    • CIPA
  • Features all libraries need
    • accurate and customizable block lists
    • flexible and easy-to-use override features
    • informative block page
    • feedback mechanism
  • Other features needed if using categories
some filtering basics
Some Filtering Basics
  • Filters block access to a web page based on rules
  • Same rule can apply to all users – single block list, or
  • Different rules can be applied to different groups of users (“filter profiles”)
  • Administrator creates “filter profiles” by selecting categories of content to block for each group
cipa and e rate
CIPA and E-Rate
  • The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) mandates that anyone receiving E-Rate discounts on their Internet access costs must filter all their computers, including staff computers.
  • “install a technology protection measure that protects against visual depictions of material that is obscene, child pornography or harmful to minors”
library bill of rights
Library Bill of Rights
  • Libraries should challenge censorship in fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  • Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  • A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views.
rocks and hard places
Rocks and Hard Places
  • I am not pro- filter
  • I am not anti-filter
  • I am anti-CIPA
  • I am attempting to help libraries find the best spot for them between the rock and the hard place
libraries have three choices
Libraries Have Three Choices
  • Minimally filter everyone
  • Filter all computers but use different “filter profiles” for groups of library users
  • Give up E-Rate discounts and do whatever you want to do
filter features important to all libraries
Filter Features Important to All Libraries
  • Flexible and easy-to-use override features
  • Informative block page
  • Accurate and customizable block lists
  • Feedback mechanism for patrons
if minimally filtering all users the same
If minimally filtering all users the same
  • Do not need an expensive filter
    • don’t need multiple filter profiles
  • Do need access to a reliable block list
    • list should be viewable
    • monitoring overblocks less problematic
    • fewer override requirements
    • may not need to offer “disable filter” option if only blocking illegal content
if filtering users differently
If Filtering Users Differently
  • Will undoubtedly use “categories”
    • will be blocking content way beyond CIPA requirements
    • requires greater oversight
    • requires ability to modify how sites are categorized
  • Do need a feature-rich filter
    • more overrides will be necessary
    • must be able to “disable filter”
    • need good reporting tools
additional features needed if using content categories
Additional Features Needed If Using Content Categories
  • Greater flexibility in handling overrides
  • Ability to disable filter
  • Good reporting tools for monitoring blocks
  • Ability to re-categorize URLs
features we ll discuss today
Features We’ll Discuss Today
  • Flexible and easy-to-use override features
  • Ability to disable filtering
  • Informative block page
  • Feedback mechanism for patrons
  • Accurate and customizable block lists
  • Good reporting tools for monitoring blocks
  • Ability to re-categorize sites
overriding a blocked page
Overriding a Blocked Page
  • Important to correct erroneously blocked sites
  • Must be done immediately, not in a couple days
  • Any staff person should be able to do it from patron’s workstation

Every library must be able to override a blocked site on the fly

how override features are implemented
How Override Features Are Implemented
  • Send in request electronically
  • Warn
  • Temporary password for patron
  • Password Override
    • Block page
    • System tray (like WinSelect)
send override request
“Send” Override Request
  • If local admin
    • Adds computer to no-filter group, or
    • Adds site to never block list, or
    • Re-categorizes site (requires review)
  • If filter company….come back tomorrow

Message typed in by user requesting override

May go to local admin or filter company

Advantage: request can be anonymous

  • Patron can override their own blocked site
  • Filters can record overrides for later review by staff

Sorry! The content of this URL is currently blocked. is rated as: nudity,pornographyIf you require further assistance, please contact:the PC reservation clerk


Click Here to Override

temporary password for patron
Temporary Password for Patron

How it works: batch of passwords available to distribute to patrons upon request

Advantages: less involvement for staff, more privacy for patrons

Disadvantage: managing a new batch of passwords each day can get messy

password override
Password Override
  • Easiest for Staff
  • Can sometimes control more than single page overrides, including disabling filter
  • Disadvantage: requires patron to “ask”
    • site must be “bad” so patron discouraged from asking
    • eliminates possibility of remaining private
duration and extent of override
Duration and Extent of Override
  • Duration
    • preset for all overrides, or
    • can be set on the fly
  • Apply override to
    • page
    • category
    • all blocking (effectively disabling filter)
ability to disable filtering
Ability to Disable Filtering
  • Flexible password override features can allow staff to disable filtering
  • If not,
    • staff logs out Patron and logs them in under “unfiltered” profile or
    • administrator changes patron or computer to “unfiltered status”

Avoid products that require staff to track down the filter administrator every time a patron wants unfiltered access!

what about passive filtering
What About Passive Filtering?

Welcome to Happyvale Public Library

These computers are filtered. Here’s our AUP.

[No illegal anything, etc]

  • If you are an adult and you agree to the AUP, you may choose to browse the Internet unfiltered by clicking the appropriate button below.

AGREE no filters please


but keep filters on

passive filtering so far not permitted
Passive Filtering So Far Not Permitted

Welcome to Happyvale Public Library

These computers are filtered. Here’s our AUP.

[No illegal anything, etc]

  • If you are an adult and you agree to the AUP, you may choose to browse the Internet unfiltered by clicking the appropriate button below.

AGREE no filters please


but keep filters on

passive filtering tips
Passive Filtering Tips
  • Limit passive filtering options to adults
  • Require patrons to sign “Internet Use Agreement” stating

a) they have read, understand and

agree to IUP

b) the have selected unfiltered access

  • Annually renew the agreement
risks of noncompliance
Risks of Noncompliance

It is unlikely that any library will be found “noncompliant” because the FCC

  • is not proactively checking for CIPA compliance
  • is counting on community "concern" to serve as a key mechanism to enforce compliance
  • stated they cannot determine if an image is obscene

Having a policy in place to address complaints can help minimize any possibility of more formal legal action.

feedback mechanism for patrons is important
Feedback Mechanism for Patrons is Important
  • the library belongs to the community
  • the library wants to avoid complaints to Board or FCC
how to get feedback
How to Get Feedback
  • Place “Request Review of Website Categorization” on block page
    • message may go to library or filter company
  • Involve community in filtering decisions
    • AUP and filter strategy
    • website category reviews
    • analyze logs
  • Filter Feedback Forms
respond to feedback
Respond to Feedback

Filter Feedback Form

□ I’m generally happy with how filtering works in the library but ________________________________ _________________________________________

□ I’m generally unhappy with how filtering works in

the library because__________________________ _________________________________________

□ Please add this site: _________________________

to the □ Never Block □Always Block list.

□ Let me know what you decide:____________________

(provide your name, phone and/or email)

access denied the block page
Access Denied: The Block Page
  • Provide information about why page was blocked
  • Let them know their options

The “block page” is patrons first encounter with the filter

a very bad block page
A Very Bad Block Page

Not Found

The requested URL /hotpics.html was not found on this server.

Apache/1.3.14 Server at Port 80

a very good block page
A Very Good Block Page

Access to Page Denied

Click here if you believe the site has been erroneously blocked and we

will review it.

This page is blocked based on the library’s Internet Use Policy (IUP).

Read IUP is rated as sexually explicit.

For immediate access to this page, contact any library staff.

Please Review

considerations for the block page
Considerations for the Block Page
  • How can patrons provide feedback if they don’t know they were blocked?
  • How can patrons know if

block was in error if they

don’t know category or URL?

  • Make it possible to get to

IUP from block page

  • Allow everyone to contribute feedback – make anonymous feedback possible
using categories
Using Categories
  • Filter companies classify websites into content categories
  • Library chooses content categories to block
  • Cannot see URLs in each category
  • Cannot be sure how a site has been or will be categorized
librarians are information professionals
Librarians are Information Professionals

Using a filter with content categories amounts to outsourcing the cataloging job

Your Choice

monitor the work of your subcontractor closely

maintain your own lists

category related responsibilities
Category Related Responsibilities
  • Managing categories
  • Monitoring accuracy of filter
  • Overriding and disabling filter
ability to re categorize urls
Ability to Re-categorize URLs
  • Minimal Requirement:
    • ability to move URLs to “always allow” or “always block” categories
  • Better:
    • ability to create new categories
    • ability to move URLs to a different category

PornographySex Education

William College

“Sex & Sexuality”

good reporting tools for monitoring blocks
Good Reporting Tools for Monitoring Blocks
  • Minimal Requirement:

ability to view URLs blocked and the category that caused the block

  • Better:

robust reporting tools

examples of reports
Examples of Reports
  • URLs Visited By Category
  • Blocked Sites By Category
  • Top External URL Hits
  • Top Internal URL Hits
  • Search Engine Queries
  • Instant Messaging for All Users
reports and logs tips
Reports and Logs - Tips
  • Before choosing a filter
    • Make sure you know if reporting is included in price and if there are any additional hardware or software requirements
  • Use them to analyze accuracy of filter
  • Use them to learn about community’s interests
  • Every day…purge information that links activity logs to patron’s identity
    • IP address + sign-in list + time = patron identity
  • Generate summary reports for analysis
ways to maintain your own lists
Ways to Maintain Your Own Lists
  • Use “always allow” and “always block” lists instead of relying on filter’s categories
  • If filter allows for creating new categories, build your own CIPA list
  • Use lists compiled by other information professionals – coordinate and share
how to use always lists
How to Use “Always” Lists
  • Always Allow
    • *.edu and *.gov sites
    • get lists of good sites from reliable sources
      • LII
      • Internet Public Library
      • Gary Price
  • Always Block
    • Get lists of sites to block from reliable sources
    • Share URLs with other libraries
    • Find sites in your own log files
using and sharing lists
Using and Sharing Lists
  • Must use a filter that can import free text lists
    • Squidgard
    • WebMarshall
  • Use available sources of such lists
    • University of Toulouse
  • Or, use a product that doesn’t hide URLs so you can modify list as needed
advantages of single cipa list
Advantages of Single CIPA List
  • Cheaper
    • not paying for categories and features you don’t need
  • Easier for staff
    • no filter profiles to manage
    • fewer overrides
    • same filter policy applies to everyone
  • Better match for libraries – who better to decide what fits into “CIPA” category?
hybrid approach
Hybrid Approach
  • minimal blocking for everyone using your own block list
    • try to match to CIPA mandate, or
    • block as little content as appropriate for community
      • illegal + pornography
  • add a kid’s blocking program on kids computers only
next webcast product highlights and lowlights
Next Webcast: Product Highlights and Lowlights
  • We’ll review specific filters on the market today
  • Before then, please visit …

  • Bring questions!