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Secure Computing Corporation,
was originally designed for the corporate environment, but
and the Internet" states that schools as well should be
"rightfully concerned about
inappropriate content (sex, obscenity and pornography, hate speech,
criminal skills and gambling)".
Since SmartFilter's list of blocked sites is divided into categories, we tested the
filter with those categories enabled -- "sex", "hate speech", "criminal skills"
and "gambling". We also enabled the "drugs" category since this could reasonably
be expected to be activated in a public school setting.
In a disclaimer elsewhere
on their site, Secure Computing describes the "sex" category as encompassing
"sexually transmitted diseases, safe-sex,
teen pregnancy" along with hard- and soft-core pornography. According to the
disclaimer, such topics "are deemed
potentially inappropriate for today's typical workplace". The disclaimer does not
mention the First Amendment implications for public schools, i.e. whether
school administrators have the right to censor information about topics such as
white paper goes on to state
In school as in the workplace, students should think in terms of
"checking their privacy at the door" when accessing the Internet
through the school's official Internet connection. They may have the
privilege of using a classroom-wide, school-wide or district-wide
Internet connection, and therefore, are held accountable to the policies
and guidelines that apply to a specific group.
The following sites were blocked in our tests in September 1997:
- Community United
Against Violence -- Community United Against Violence is a
15 year old nonprofit agency preventing hate crimes against gays and lesbians.
Their site includes links to pages about domestic violence, prevention of
hate crimes, and youth activism.
- Dutch Organization for Integration of Homosexuality (COC) --
"works to make lesbians and gays accepted by society
and gain equal rights by lobbying politicians."
- Lambda --
"Canadian-based organization that promotes research
into lesbian and gay issues and lifestyles for the
purpose of public education."
- The Safer Sex Page, one of
the best-known sex education resources on the Web, and a named
plaintiff in the successful lawsuit against the Communications
Texans for Firearms Rights -- supporting gun owner's rights in Texas
- Marijuana Policy Project --
"full-time lobbying organization in Washington DC persuading
members of congress to
support medicinal marijuana and reducing harmful marijuana
legislation and sentencing."
- The National Institute
on Drug Abuse -- official government Web site
- The Stop AIDS Project
-- "prevention info, training manuals, media
campaigns, and extensive links to other on-line
- The Hepatitis Information
- Nizkor, the premier
Web site devoted to remembering the Holocaust and refuting
claims of Holocaust deniers.
- The Feminist Majority
- Mother Jones magazine
- The National Abortion Rights
- The Ontario
Center for Religious Tolerance
- Campaign For Our Children --
"a non-profit, abstinence-based
teen pregnancy prevention program."
- United States Information
Agency -- official government site.
"USIA's mission is to understand, inform and influence foreign
publics in promotion of the national interest, and to
broaden the dialogue between Americans and U.S. institutions
and their counterparts abroad."
Islam and the Muslims -- an educational resource site
focusing on dispelling prejudicial myths about Islam. Maintained
by a University of Oregon student.
- Youth.org --
"exists to provide young people with a safe space
online to be themselves". A popular educational and social resource site for
gay, lesbian, and questioning youth.
- The American Friends
Service Committee --
"a Quaker organization
which includes people of various faiths who are
committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service.
Its work is based on the Quaker belief in the worth of
every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence
on Peace Research, Education and Development --
spreads effective methods of nonviolent social change
among diverse racial and socio-economic populations."
The organization includes
"almost 500 institutional and individual
members, including K-12 educators, peace activists, conflict
resolution practitioners, university professors and clergy"
- Oasis Magazine --
magazine whose articles cover topics of interest to
In August 1997, Lt. Gov. Joanne Benson of Minnesota announced that
school districts would be encouraged to apply for a grant to receive SmartFilter
filtering software for their networks (see
Channel 4000 article).
Although a press
release from Secure Computing described the arrangement as a $9 million donation
to the Minnesota public school system, a
report prepared by one school official
revealed that the "grant" waived only the $6,000 purchase fee. Schools would still
be required to pay $1,800 per year for continued updates of the blocked site
list. The report also states that about 50 school districts have applied for the
grants as of August 1997; it was unclear how many of those would actually be using
SmartFilter is also used by
Flinders University in Australia
to censor student Internet access, one of the few universities known to
be using filtering software.
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