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Blog Blocked?

Do any of you folks know (1) whether our blog is blocked by some filters, and (2) how, if at all, we can try to get it unblocked? A reader e-mails that a filter named Bess seems to have it in for us, which keeps up from being accessed on some high school computers. I'm not sure that we'd want to invest a great deal of effort in trying to get unblocked, but if we can quickly find out -- with your help -- who blocks us and just send a few e-mails that might help some high school students get hooked on that Volokh Conspiracy crack take advantage of the information and opinion that we provide, that would be nice.

By the way, I'm not terribly outraged or even upset that we might be blocked. While we don't consciously try to run a "family blog," my sense is that even the 1% of our stuff that may be slightly racy is mighty tame by modern high school standards; but if some filter manufacturer disagrees, I won't to be too upset. I just suspect that the blockage is more a matter of automated word searches than of deliberate and particularized judgment, and that a filter manufacturer who does look more closely at us would probably conclude that we're not really R-rated. (As to pre-high-school students, let's just say that one doesn't need a filter to keep a typical 11-year-old from reading a blog like ours; and if some 11-year-old does read us, I suspect that it'll have to be a generally pretty mature 11-year-old.)

roy (mail) (www):
No specifics here, but many web filter companies would be glad to tell you if you're blocked. I suggest you Google "web filter" and politely mass-mail the top twenty or so results.
3.2.2006 2:51pm
NYU Jew (mail):
Maybe the problem lies in the VC's title. Would you want your 15-year old reading about the Conspiracy? (I would). Are there really many 11-year olds getting hooked on VC crack reading the VC? It's one thing to read it in law school--you're online and have a ton of class-time to spare--but another to read it while balancing the rigors of 6th grade.
3.2.2006 2:57pm
Dylanfa (mail) (www):
I'm sure you're right about automated word searches. "Pornography" sure shows up here enough to scare such things.
3.2.2006 3:01pm
Chris S (www):
Bess is developed by SecureComputing (smartcomputing.com) specifically for the education industry. The filters are, predominately, automated, they also err on the side of blocking sites as opposed to unblocking them. So if someone reported the site because of a single, somewhat lewd post that would automatically get you blocked.

You can request that it be removed here [http://www.securecomputing.com/index.cfm?skey=234] but it's an open loop process so you won't get feedback on whether or not they removed the filter.
3.2.2006 3:05pm
Kovarsky (mail):
EV:

You should embrace the bad boy image in the blogosphere. Put up pictures of you on a motorcycle, at the playboy mansion, and playing darts.

Well don.
3.2.2006 3:07pm
Chris S (www):
Quick Follow-Up. volokh.com is being blocked by the Politics\Opinion filter so the categorization is accurate.

Why schools want to block political and opinion pages is anyone's guess.
3.2.2006 3:08pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Is there an explanation for why it's being blocked by Politics/Opinion? Are there particular opinions or political subjects that the filter tries to block? (I assume the "Politics/Opinion" filter doesn't mean "block all politics/opinion.")
3.2.2006 3:11pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Better take down the nude shots of "Long John" Marshall.
3.2.2006 3:15pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Some general data is at http://www.salon.com/tech/log/1999/07/29/censorware/ -- Bess is used by schools with about 4.5 million students. It also blocks parts of Time Magazine and all of Mother Jones.

He's a (perhaps noncurrent) list of categories blocked. No mention of opinion, but there is one for weapons and one for hate speech. http://www.sno-isle.org/page/?ID=1789 CLicking on any category takes you to the next page, which I list in next para.:

Here's one that does list opinion: http://www.securecomputing.com/index.cfm?skey=86#we . Definition: "Politics/Opinion (po)
This category includes URLs covering political parties, individuals in political life, and opinion on various topics."

So I suppose some school administrators think it valuable to insulate young minds from "opinions on various topics," including, oh, the US Constitution and laws.
3.2.2006 3:23pm
Sasha (mail):
I thought it was because of the lesbians.
3.2.2006 3:31pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
EV and Chris,

volokh.com is being blocked by the Politics\Opinion filter so the categorization is accurate.

High Schools commonly block many CONSERVATIVE sites or those sites considered CONSERVATIVE by the left wing censors in education. It is not surprising that your site is blocked, sadly, because left wingers definitely consider your site to be filled with plenty of pro Conservative pro libertarian fascists.

Rush Limbaugh has talked many times about his web site and internet radio broadcasts being blocked by high schools while moveon.org, dailykos, etc. are NOT BLOCKED.

In the Atlanta area a truly wonderful libertarian talk radio host named Neal Boortz (now syndicated nationally) talks about his website and internet radio broadcasts being blocked by High Schools while again moveon.org, dailykos, and all the left wing sites are perfectly free to access.

Chris, you seem to know something about this, maybe you could confirm if rushlimbaugh.com is blocked, boortz.com is blocked, dailykos is NOT blocked, moveon.org is NOT blocked, powerlineblog.com is blocked, Josh Marshall is NOT blocked, Michelle Malkin is blocked, wonkette is NOT blocked.

I'm sure EV and others here would be interested in what you find.

Of course all those here who argue there is no evidence of liberal bias in academia at any level will just tell us no doubt how this is just anecdotal evidence and not a valid finding of real actual bias by left wing administrators and teachers who preach their UNION NEA line that is designed to protect union dues and power at the expense of a quality education free from left wing propaganda.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 3:36pm
Kovarsky (mail):
JYLD,

Nice metaconspiracy.
3.2.2006 3:43pm
Martin Grant (mail):
JunkYardLawDog,

Do you have more than just a secondhand anecdotal story to back that accusation up? In my experience many conservative Christian groups are more likely to get involved in the development of Web filtering and blocking software than liberal ones. In my employment in the security area I have seen a couple instances of blocking software (at businesses, not schools) not allowing access to sites containing non-Christian religeons (e.g. blocking wiccan religeous sites) but allowing access to similar Christian sites. I do realize all I am providing is my own firsthand anecdotal evidence. And I seriously doubt my experience in this small area of security software is enough to provide a sufficient sample size. However I am sure both liberals and conversatives employ this kind of unnoticed fly under the radar censorship and get away with it.
3.2.2006 3:46pm
Parsi (mail):
See Boing Boing's Guide to Defeating Censorware. Plenty there to keep a mature 11-year-old usefully occupied.
3.2.2006 3:51pm
SamChevre:
Note on site-blocking: much of the blocking of Politics/Opinion sites (SecureFilter, for example) is by filters that are primarily designed for workplaces. My employer uses SecureComputing's filter, which blocks all blogspot blogs, and other blogs apparently at random--instapundit and VC are both unblocked.
3.2.2006 3:56pm
Martin Grant (mail):
Parsi,

My work's filtering software blocks that site under it's hacking / criminal skills category. :-)

Not that those of in the computer security groups don't often get exceptions relating to our work.

-Martin (2-8514)
3.2.2006 3:57pm
Martin Grant (mail):
Hmmm.... I wish I could edit out my work exension. But I guess it's not classified material, so who cares.
3.2.2006 3:59pm
Fishbane (mail):
More general background on Bess here.

BTW, Dog, Esq.: Bess blocks Mother Jones, sex ed sites, gay-rights sites, and completely random things like cat sites. They're very much equal opportunity censors. I very much doubt that Kos is currently omitted.

The software is semi-automated - I don't know how exactly Bess is implemented, but the general technique is a web spider that looks for a list of keywords. This list is then augmented by random sampling by a human of the results, as well as response to complaints.

As you might guess, the results of this process are very error prone.

Additionally, the filters are not going to be uniform; local administrators can add additional things to the list. So, Mom complains about site X, or a teacher sees Bobby looking at site Y, and those go in for one district but not for another.

Amusingly, Google Translate (and similar services) are routinely blocked for these sites, because it can be used as a proxy, thus evading the filter. Little Sally doesn't need to learn another language, anyway.
3.2.2006 4:01pm
Fishbane (mail):
Martin Grant: after your extension comment, I went to fmr.com, out of curiousity.

It currently tells me: "Proxy denies fulfilling the request". Heh. (I don't have a proxy in front of me.)
3.2.2006 4:04pm
Martin Grant (mail):
One of the ways I've seen creative tech savvy people get around these filters, is by running different types of pass through proxies on their home machines. Then when they go to work or school and browse to their home machine they can hop off to anywhere else regardless of the filtering. Although, if discovered, such a clear attempt get around most businesses' electronic communications policies can get you warned or fired.
3.2.2006 4:09pm
Nonny (mail):
Martin: Yes. I did not mean, by starting this discussion, to deny that there are many easy ways to circumvent these filters. There are, which every day allows my students to view a whole range of lesbians.
3.2.2006 4:21pm
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Back in 2003, Volokh Conspiracy was blocked by State Dept. The word "conspiracy" triggered the block. I requested that it be unblocked and within a few weeks it was. I'm no longer there, though, so I can't say whether or not that's still the case.
3.2.2006 4:38pm
Kovarsky (mail):
JYLD,

Actually, given that the subject of the filtering is the volokh conspiracy, I should instead say, nice

meta-meta conspiracy theory.
3.2.2006 4:41pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Fishbane,

Additionally, the filters are not going to be uniform; local administrators can add additional things to the list. So, Mom complains about site X, or a teacher sees Bobby looking at site Y, and those go in for one district but not for another.

Or the librarians or administrators in charge of tweaking the list are left wing censors and block conservative news sites.

High School students regularly call in to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz complaining that their websites are blocked at their high school yet they have no problem reaching moveon.org's web site, CNN's website, etc. There has never been a call in to these shows complaining that they can get foxnews' website but not CNN's or they can get powerlineblog.com but not Josh Marshall.

Its far more and more consistent than would be accounted for by the inaccuracy of the web filters. Mother Jones should be blocked they promote drug use. Cat sites get blocked because the words "pussy cat" and "nice pussy" might appear on them. DailyKos should be blocked routines as it is filled with immature filthy language from the permanently disaffected classes on the left.

None of these things can be said about FoxNews' site, Rush Limbaugh's site, Neal Boortz's site. Their sites are routinely blocked because they are known to present a conservative viewpoint not approved by the lefties of the NEA, and will definitely contradict the multi-culturalist (i.e., its all whitey's and the USA's fault) curriculum's advocated by the NEA and most of its members.

People like Chris who were able to check the blocking should do some tests as I indicated to see how many filters are blocking FoxNews but not CNN, Rush Limbaugh but not Air America or Josh Marshall, Neal Boortz and William Bennett but not Robert Reich or Moveon.org.

An even better test would be to have every high school student you know go to the library and try to access as a logged in student these various sites and report back which ones if any are blocked.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 4:41pm
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Well if you aren't outraged I will be outraged for you.

Personally I see little difference between censoring a teenager/pre-teen's access to content because it has bad words, talks about sex or is otherwise 'racy' and blocking democratic or republican sites.

There is just as much good reason to believe (probably more) reading wacked out left wing screeds or reactionary conservative rants is going to damage young minds as reading discussions about sex, lesbians, and seeing bad words. The only difference between the two is that blocking bad words and racy material is approved of by more people than blocking political speech of kind X.

I think it is important not to treat blocking sites mentioning lesbians or swear words any differently than sites blocking democratic party material because to do otherwise is to implicitly condone this sort of blocking. Ultimately the idea that 'shit', 'fuck' and talk about sex, prostitution and whatever is bad or even bad for kids is no more a reasonable position than the idea that republicans are a good choice to run the country (or democrats) and children placed in a learning enviornment should have the ability to seek out disagreeing positions (and not ones denied the ability to express their position in the most natural and effective way possible).

If this is only for buisnesses I have different feelings about the subject.
3.2.2006 4:49pm
Walter:
I was at the Sheraton in downtown Boston and volokh.com was blocked by the hotel. The blocking software said that the site was blocked because the word "Gestopo" was used on the homepage.

These were computers setup in the lobby for guests of the hotel or member of public that were will to pay for internet service (in a cobranding service with Yahoo!)
3.2.2006 4:51pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Martin, we aren't discussing businesses or PRIVATE schools. Both should be able to block whatever they want willy nilly. PRIVATE schools are supposed to have a point of view, unless they claim they have no point of view.

We are discussing sites blocked by local PUBLIC high schools. Government supported schools and government paid employees are NOT supposed to be arbitrarily blocking conservative political content when not blocking liberal political content. Yet they do this often enough to be the subject of numerous complaints to various individuals.

Even the CBC in Canada, until very recently, blocked FoxNews but NOT CNN.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 4:52pm
mdemeusy (www):
I would agree with what a number of people have already said; it's probably either a word-search block or a subject matter (politics) block. Boing Boing was recently censored, and they have a page up on how to defeat the censorware and they list a variety of ways.

Other than that, I think the subject matter/word content is enough to get the site blocked, even as silly as they may be.
3.2.2006 4:56pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Logicnazi, you have the right to expose your children to all the filthy and vulgar things, books, language and discussions as you care to so do. You do NOT have the right to make that decision for other PARENTS with regard to THEIR CHILDREN who are REQUIRED under threat of ARREST and CONFISCATION of their property to support financially and send their children to a GOVERNMENT RUN SCHOOL.

People without Children who are compelled under threat of arrest and confiscation of their property to financially support these government run school have a legitimate interest in the kind of education and experiences inflicted upon the children of the community as they grow up. Again while you have the right to teach your children all the plumbing and positions and filthy language your little heart so desires, but you do NOT have the right to enfoce your moral values upon the children of others.

If your children aren't getting enough porn, filthy language, deviant sex descriptions, or literature like the "Story of O" then the solution is NOT to compel access to these materials by OTHER PARENTS unsupervised children, your solution to this delima is to make sure YOU PROVIDE your children at HOME with all the necessary porn and deviant materials you feel is necessary to their success in life.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 5:01pm
Steve:
High School students regularly call in to Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Neal Boortz complaining that their websites are blocked at their high school yet they have no problem reaching moveon.org's web site, CNN's website, etc. There has never been a call in to these shows complaining that they can get foxnews' website but not CNN's or they can get powerlineblog.com but not Josh Marshall.

Emphasis added. Why on earth would you call Rush Limbaugh to complain that you are being blocked from reaching a left-wing site?

One has to be seriously befuddled to base a claim of left-wing bias on evidence that "more of Rush's callers are reporting left-wing bias than right-wing bias."
3.2.2006 5:01pm
Steve:
If your children aren't getting enough porn, filthy language, deviant sex descriptions, or literature like the "Story of O" then the solution is NOT to compel access to these materials by OTHER PARENTS unsupervised children, your solution to this delima is to make sure YOU PROVIDE your children at HOME with all the necessary porn and deviant materials you feel is necessary to their success in life.

If your children aren't getting enough exposure to Christianity then the solution is NOT to compel access to these materials by OTHER PARENTS unsupervised children, your solution to this delima is to make sure YOU PROVIDE your children at HOME with all the necessary exposure to Christianity you feel is necessary to their success in life.

I hope you didn't mind me editing your comment slightly. Everyone who agrees with the first point should agree with the second as well, right?
3.2.2006 5:04pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Walter, you make a good point. The censorship of conservative content, while not as completely bad as it was a few years ago, is still prevalent. How many have experienced stays in hotel rooms where CNN is provided but not Fox Cable News? I had never thought about their internet access blocking things, but maybe they do.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 5:05pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
JYLD: "libertarian fascists" is a contradiction in terms.

However, I agree that the libertarian viewpoint forwarded here, albeit a very moderate one, could be seen as threatening to the public school bureaucracy.
3.2.2006 5:05pm
Fishbane (mail):
An even better test would be to have every high school student you know go to the library and try to access as a logged in student these various sites and report back which ones if any are blocked.

Well, I don't know any high school students at the moment, but my mother is a public librarian (DLS) in Tennessee, and my partner's mother is a public school librarian in Alabama.

My mother is forced by law to run filters, but cripples them as much as possible to allow the widest possible access she can.

My partner's mom can't go quite so far, but does go out of her way to encourage students to ask her to unblock (the admin override) things they're trying to see.

Sure, only two datapoints. But I think you'll find that librarians, as a rule, are intensely interested in providing access in as much information as possible, no matter what the viewpoint. If you go back and look over debates about the CDA, COPA, and state filter mandate legislation, I think you'll find that librarians put up strong fights against all of them.

I'm sure there are exceptions, but librarians, as a professional class, are about as free-speech absolutist as you'll find.
3.2.2006 5:08pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Steve,

I hope you didn't mind me editing your comment slightly.

Not at all. You are free to make as big a fool of yourself as you may so desire.


Everyone who agrees with the first point should agree with the second as well, right?

Only if they are moronic enough to equate Christianity with pornography, vulgarity, and deviant behaviors. Only if they are uneducated enough about the constitution to NOT know that religion and the free exercise thereof is protected, whereas porn is NOT protected.

Only if they were clueless enough to fail to recognize a parent's inalienable and fundamental right to direct and control the moral and religious values that are taught to their children.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 5:11pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Fishbane,

Yes public libraries NOT part of a local SCHOOL may have as expansive a filtering policy as they can get away with. They are however not library's and computers within the computer lab or local public school. Its the high school computer lab computers, high school internet access, and inside the high school library computers that are the subject of the discussion as I understand it.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 5:19pm
Martin Grant (mail):
>Government supported schools and government paid employees are NOT supposed to be arbitrarily blocking conservative political content when not blocking liberal political content.

I wholeheartedly agree with the conclusion, but not the premise. Of course they shouldn't be blocking political content. However I seriously doubt that the liberal conspiracy you perceive really exists.
3.2.2006 5:20pm
Fishbane (mail):
and inside the high school library computers that are the subject of the discussion as I understand it.

...And you're completely ignoring one half of my examples. I think I'm done here.
3.2.2006 5:27pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Kevin Conners,

Yes there may be many things wrong with the term "libertarian Fascists", but it is a term posted to me just today on a left wing blog by a leftwinger who asked me to return the Volokh Conspiracy where all "the other Federalist Society libertarian fascists hang out".

I was merely pointing out that while many, such as myself, do not consider Volokh Conspiracy to be a conservative site, the loonies of the left do.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 5:31pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Fishbane, I'm not ignoring your examples, I'm differentiating your examples as not applicable to conservative political censorship in local high schools.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 5:34pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Martin Grant:

However I seriously doubt that the liberal conspiracy you perceive really exists.

It may well not be a conspiracy in the traditional sense of knowing concerted action among a group of individuals. It may well be like minded left wingers all acting individually on their own to protect the children from being exposed to ideas and thoughts they consider wrong and dangerous. It just so happens that those ideas are always the conservative ones because of the domination of left wing thought in schools of education and the kinds of personalities who choose to become teachers instead of business majors or science majors, etc.

While it was quite a long time ago that I was in college, at the major university I attended the male students who were education majors were always the pot heads, long haired losers who couldn't cut it in any other program, and social worker types who didn't want to actually do social work. Not exactly the kind of crowd expected to be Reagan Republicans.

The above paragraph reminded me of this true story. A few years back I was at dinner with the local president of a local bank. He told me his daughter was getting ready to attend the University of Georgia and that she told her father she was going to major in social work. He told her she wasn't going to go to U of G on his nickle and major in social work. He told her she could go to work at the local Krystals and work with the exact same people and make the same amount of money. All without spending anything for a college education.

Funny and true.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 5:42pm
Jeremy Pierce (mail) (www):
In all fairness, the Rush Limbaugh point wasn't that more people called in with complaints about censoring of conservative sites than called in about liberal ones. The point is that this claim has been made over and over again with never a caller suggesting that the information being presented isn't correct. Liberals do listen to Limbaugh, at least enough to call in regularly and disagree with him.

As for Christianity, it's kind of hard to teach history or literature without teaching Christian content. The bulk of the best literature taught in schools relies on Christian imagery throughout, and students ignorant of what that means haven't been taught the material. You can't teach 16th century European history without dealing with the controversies between Catholics and Protestants, and teaching the early settlement of the Americas without at least some content on what the Puritans believe would be a real travesty. This does take place, of course. It's just immoral and doesn't accomplish the purpose of teaching history to begin with. I see nothing comparable to this with teaching kids vulgar language or showing them porn.
3.2.2006 5:53pm
Fishbane (mail):
Fishbane, I'm not ignoring your examples, I'm differentiating your examples as not applicable to conservative political censorship in local high schools.

No, in fact, you're ignoring the example that contradicts your point so that you can concentrate on calling the other not applicable.
3.2.2006 5:55pm
Martin Grant (mail):
JYLD,

I should have been more specific. I doubt the problem exists to a large extent for conservative website any more than liberal ones.

I'm sure you could probably find liberals complaining that all the software is developed my conservatives who purposely have it block website that talk about contraception and abortion. Do you want your teenage daughter accessing a site about reproduction rights? Those types of callers are not likely watching the Rush Limbaugh show in the any where near the same numbers as conservatives.
3.2.2006 6:20pm
Kovarsky (mail):
JYLD,

I've read all your posts and I'm inferring that you don't know too terribly much about what public libraries are and are not allowed to do in terms of filtering, beyond anecdotes that you've heard on the radio.

(1) For starters, under the CIPA, most libraries are required to use either filtering or blocking software.

(2) There is a difference between filtering and blocking devices. A filtering device prohibits access based on content (obscenity, pornography, etc.) wheras a blocking device prohibits based on URL.

(3) Filtering and blocking software is imperfect, and sweeps up a lot of protected speech even when operating effectively to exclude speech excludable under CIPA. That's why courts pay a lot of attention to as-applied challenges under that law.

(4) Public libraries must allow access to anythihng to anybody that can verify their status as an adult.

(5) Public libraries are nonetheless subject to first amendment restrictions, and cannot viewpoint discriminate through their filtering/blocking software. So if the content-based restriction filters are programmed to exclude pornographic material, those filters might naturally capture all sites that talk a lot about pornography, but it is not targeting a viewpoint about pornography. If a library implements a block (as opposed to a filter), and that block is based on viewpoint, it is quite plainly unconstitutional. I absolutely defy and challenge you to identify a single instance where a library has restricted access to material based on viewpoint and a court has upheld it. You won't be able to find one. Instead you will come back with anecdotes about this or that you heard on Rush, etc.

It was cute for awhile, and I generally find your antics and conspiracy theories pretty entertaining, but you really don't know what you're talking about here.
3.2.2006 6:32pm
Ender:
Bess blocks Mother Jones, sex ed sites, gay-rights sites, and completely random things like cat sites.

I'm gonna go ahead and guess that the word "pussy" is often used at cat sites, thereby leading Bess to block them.

Praise God we have Big Besser to protect our children from the evil cat sites!!
3.2.2006 6:33pm
Steve:
Only if they were clueless enough to fail to recognize a parent's inalienable and fundamental right to direct and control the moral and religious values that are taught to their children.

I'm not sure how this gives you the right to insist that my child should be exposed to Christianity in public school. In fact, it sort of suggests the opposite, "the Dog."
3.2.2006 6:38pm
Fishbane (mail):
I'm gonna go ahead and guess that the word "pussy" is often used at cat sites, thereby leading Bess to block them.

Yes, that was my point, perhaps to softly made. I was attempting to suggest that reliance on machine technology to filter "harmful" stuff by definition is going to generate both false negatives and false positives, and that is before people start arguing about what "harmful" means.

No doubt Limbaugh continues to ensure he will stay on blacklists through references to "Hitlary" and "feminazis". How should a poor software agent tell the difference between that and something like stormfront.org?
3.2.2006 7:05pm
countertop (mail):
Uh, whats the "Story of O"?
3.2.2006 7:05pm
Kyle Stedman:
To check your site's status on Secure Computing's N2H2 Sentian/Bess, and their latest product, Smartfilter, go to

http://database.n2h2.com/cgi-perl/catrpt.pl

and http://www.securecomputing.com/index.cfm?skey=234

Volokh.com is categorized by both, which doesn't mean that you're being blocked by any given site using this product. It does mean you CAN be blocked by these products.
3.2.2006 7:05pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Kyle,

I have a feeling that you're not the one I need to be addressing this too, but I think it's best if everybody keeps the difference between blocking and filtering straight.

Under blocking, some dude says, "this terminal is not allowed to retrieve that URL."

Under filtering, a piece of software runs an algorithm on the website's code to determine whether it possesses content sufficient to restrict access to it.

Filtering is obviously still capable of being manipulated to present a particular viewpoint, but given that the restricting agent is an algorithm rather than a dude, it is far less suspect than a block.
3.2.2006 7:16pm
gvibes (mail):
Don't most of these programs use both filtering and blocking (blacklisting), as well as whitelisting? That was my impression.
3.2.2006 7:37pm
Kyle Stedman:
Hi Kovarsky,

Yes, I was not using the term blocked in a strict definitional sense...very loose. Just wanted to point out some possibilities for why Volokh might be being blocked.

Under Bess, Volokh.com is catagorized as "Web Page Hosting/Free Pages." A catagory frequently blocked in Junior libraries and at schools.

Under Smartfilter, Volokh.com is catagorized as "Politics/Opinion, Personal Pages" (ver 4), and "Personal, Politics/Religion" (ver 3.X Premier)
3.2.2006 7:39pm
Kyle Stedman:
Gvibes.

Yes, the do. I've worked with Secure Computing's filters for years now.

Kyle
3.2.2006 7:42pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
JYLD: "I was merely pointing out that while many, such as myself, do not consider Volokh Conspiracy to be a conservative site, the loonies of the left do." I rather suspected that was an unattributed quote - just wanted to be sure.

All one has to do is visit Daily Kos, Liberty Forum, or watch C-SPAN'S Washington Journal, to understand the vast spectrum of individuals who have very passionate opinions, but lack any breath or depth to their knowledge, or skill at analytical thinking.

I, and (I'm reasonably sure, most) other regulars at VC, come here for the high level of commentary, analysis, and discourse (and, occasionally, the recipes). This is why it would be a travesty of education for this site to be filtered from our high school computers.
3.2.2006 7:42pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Kovarsky, in general I don't advocate conspiracy theories. That's just yours and others incorrect interpretation of what I say at times.

Is CIPA applicable to computers in the local high school computer lab? Is CIPA applicable to computers in the internal high school library? Is CIPA applicable to computers or internet connection provided to students inside classrooms and labs?

The discussion, if you've read all my posts you should know this, was about access to certain conservative political websites being blocked/or filtered out so that high school students couldn't view foxnews.com or rushlimbaugh.com or boortz.com but could view from that same connection CNN.com, moveon.org, Josh Marshall's site, and a whole host of liberal political websites.

Did I say a court had ruled this kind of game playing was legal? No I didn't. We were discussing whether this kind of game playing was HAPPENING.

It DOES happen. When it does happen its almost entirely to foxnews and not CNN. Almost entirely to Rush and not moveon.org.

If CIPA does apply to computers and internet connections inside classrooms at public high schools then it isn't working very well.

If it doesn't, it wasn't I posting messages about things I knew very little. Next time read the messages for greater comprehension before replying. I did like your meta and meta meta conspiracy jokes. I meant to reply with a grin, but was overwhelmed with the other messages.

I still like you, just didn't care for the tone of your last sentence.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 7:44pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Kevin,

I, and (I'm reasonably sure, most) other regulars at VC, come here for the high level of commentary, analysis, and discourse (and, occasionally, the recipes). This is why it would be a travesty of education for this site to be filtered from our high school computers.


I completely agree. There are so many lucid and knowledgable posters here of every persuassion that I often just read some threads without comment myself.

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 7:48pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Steve,

I'm not sure how this gives you the right to insist that my child should be exposed to Christianity in public school. In fact, it sort of suggests the opposite,

I don't recall stating this or advocating it. If you can show me where I did say this, I'll be happy to withdraw it.

There was another poster that commented that Christianity, its beliefs, and its institutions are interwoven in ours and Europe's history and literature and it is impossible to properly teach some of these subjects without covering those aspects of Christianity, its beliefs, language, and institutions that give context to and explain the events of history and literature. I would certainly support this rather obvious observation. That however is not advocating that any child be forced to study religious dogma in a devotional sense.


Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 7:56pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Countertop, you should be able to get the description of the Story of O off a google search, but you'll also get a lot of porn site hits that don't have anything to do with the actual book written by a Frenchman during the first half of the 20th Century.

Of course I'm assuming you don't have a computer connection at your local high school that will block this info along with Rushlimbaugh.com and Foxnews.com. (smile)

Says the "Dog"
3.2.2006 8:04pm
Wintermute (www):
Some blog software has a feature enabling each reader to ignore selected commenters.
3.2.2006 8:22pm
Kovarsky (mail):
JYLD,

I didn't mean to offend - I just couldn't believe that the "data" on which your posts rely are anecdotal reports that stuff is blocked.

Also, if this "stuff" is happening, it is because rules aren't being administered properly, and not - as rush would have you believe, because the law allows schools to selectively block material.

Again, I think you have to be careful when you distinguish between blocks and filters. If Rush is filtered but Moveon.org isn't, it's presumably because of content and not viewpoint. Whether the filters are viewpoint discriminatory is hard to say as a matter of law, but it is pretty easy to look at their algorithms and see whether they are engineered beforehand to nail rush - almost every person that I've ever heard look at these algorithms (I used to write consumer profiling algorithms in my previous professional incarnation) has laughed off any such political inflection.
3.2.2006 8:23pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Rush claiming that he's filtered but Moveon is not based on their respective viewpoints is a little like the "naked polygamous dancing dildo dressers for saving the spotted owl" claiming they are filtered for their environmental preferences.
3.2.2006 8:32pm
Visitor Again:
If you can fire a high school teacher for airing his political views in a high school classroom, per the next post on the VC, surely there's nothing wrong with preventing the VC or any other source of political views from reaching students.

By the way, I don't support either form of censorship.
3.2.2006 8:55pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
One is compelled to wonder if Story of "O" - Pauline Réage's literary masterwork, and (IMHO) the apex of porn's cinematic heyday - is more accessible in high school libraries than The Volokh Conspiracy?
3.2.2006 9:11pm
The Drill SGT (mail):
I did a quick check of VC and KOS and both are graded the same way.
--------------------------
Thank you for your submission. Below please find a listing of the category (ies) in which your submitted URL appears. For a detailed description of each category, visit our filtering categories section.


The Site: http://www.dailykos.com/
is categorized as:
Web Page Hosting/Free Pages


The site you submitted resides on a Web page hosting server that provides Web page hosting for their users such as homepages that share a common domain. These sites include those provided by ISPs, University/education servers, free Web page hosts, etc. Although many of these Web page providers post rules and regulations for content, they do not always adequately monitor this content. Users often abuse Web page services by posting offensive content under multiple pseudonyms.

Because this category contains hundreds of millions of pages, it is not practical to assign more granular categorization to individual pages. However, any page can be added to your local block and allow list, enabling access to specific content even if the category has been selected to be blocked. Local block or allow lists are maintained at the discretion of your local network administration. You can reach your network administration by contacting those that provide our filtering for you, whether that be your school, Internet Service Provider, or place of employment.
------------------------------
List Current Categorization Suggest Change

V4
Politics/Opinion, Personal Pages

3.x Premier
Personal, Politics/Religion
3.2.2006 9:17pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Sir: Thank You, Sir.

For providing a definitive answer to this dilemma. :)
3.2.2006 9:41pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Oh, but wait a Minute: What are the results for Story of "O"? :)
3.2.2006 9:47pm
IANAL:
VC is NOT addictive, it is just for fun, and I can quit anytime I want. The trembling is just stress.



...



Stop looking at me!
3.3.2006 10:49am
Matt L (mail):
It's blocked at my high school, but I think it's a function of unilaterally blocking all "blogs". Needless to say, this is quite annoying to any other high school students addicted to blogs (I'm sure they exist). Finally, I wonder how rational it is to block this site. The content isn't offensive and it's far more intelligent/engaging than the kinds of blogs the filter is meant to stop (Xanga, etc).
3.3.2006 7:49pm