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More Filtering Follies

Ok, I wasn’t going to talk about this, but it’s been driving me crazy all day. And since it’s Friday, blogging about this saves me from doing other, more tedious stuff. So…

To back up a bit, I had read this Battling Censorship entry as well as others that have passed through my Bloglines this week. Basically everyone was lamenting the fact that MySpace.com was being filtered by schools. My intial reaction to this was “If you’re a teacher with a lab full of kids to pay attention to, it’s nice to have one less thing to concern yourself with if you know the kids can’t get places they shouldn’t be.” That opinion was further enhanced when I saw that one of the bemoaners hadn’t been a classroom teacher since about 1992. I mean, the web as we know it wasn’t even around. Anyway, I shrugged it off and moved on.

Fast forward to this morning, when I returned a call to the outreach coordinator for one of our state univerisities. She was asking about blogs, specifically about WordPress.com and Edublogs.org which I use during blog workshops. It seems that they were having a hard time adding blogging to their educational technology certification courses because these sites were being blocked by a particular district’s filters.

Me: WHAT!? What do you mean they’re being blocked?

Her: Yes, the tech director told me that they block all blogs. He said that allowing teachers to create their own blogs violated the Children’s Internet Protection Act since they wouldn’t be hosted on the district site…

Me: WHAT!?

Her: Yes, he told me that if they allowed blogging sites through they would be helping teachers break the law. The tech director wanted to have absolute control over what the teachers were putting on the web.

Me: Well, now that you’re talking control issues I see that yes, you were talking to a tech director. But the CIPA business is complete bunk.

Her: Thanks for the conversation…have a great day!

I had told her that I was ready to punch this person in the nose for making up lies, but she allowed as how I didn’t need to. Thankfully she contacted me later in the day to tell me that she had again spoken to this tech director and had convinced him that since our ISD and other educationally sound institutions were using free sites such as WordPress.com and Edublogs.org that they, too, would allow these sites to go through.

The upshot is that web filters in the wrong hands are not so helpful…


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