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Internet Filtering Q/A 

Why do we need to filter the internet?
CIPA [Children's Internet Protection Act] requires it if you have internet in your school district. In order to receive federal funding for internet and hardware to provide internet in our school, it is a federal mandate. We don't have a choice. 

In addition, to protect the innocent. There was a time where going to whitehouse.com would bring up a porn website. With sites mostly being .com, we don't want our students to access a common mistake of typing in a website. Porn sites are now using l's for one's, w's for two uu's, and many other creative ways to get people to go to sites.

Just as important, an internet filter prevents users from going to sites that might have malware [computer viruses] or other damaging material.

How does filtering work? The Laundry Analogy 
Since filtering has been such a pain point this year it is important that our users understand how filtering works. We all know that the internet is a great big place. There is no way that anyone can know everything about all sites as new sites are added every day. This is why schools and businesses use filtering companies like Lightspeed and iBoss. They write software to categorize sites.

The CMT team with the guidance of SACS administration and our filter company choose what categories are allowed for each type of user such as teacher and student. This categorizing process is much like sorting your laundry at home. You put all the whites together, all the towels together, all the reds together. Lightspeed and iBoss put all the shopping together, all the education together, all the adult content together.

Occasionally a white sock gets in with the reds and it turns pink. This also happens with filtering. Sometimes an educational site gets put in a category that isn’t allowed. Sometimes it’s the other way and inappropriate content is in a category that is allowed. We have the ability to fix this but we have to know about it. This is where you come in since you are on the front lines. We need you to tell us when a site you need isn’t allowed or when a bad one is allowed. Most of the time we can correct this with just a few mouse clicks… no bleach needed. More information will be coming soon about how you can tell us when things aren’t quite right. 


Why SACS decided to pursue a different filter?

Although Lightspeed provided a good solution, we still had issues with home filtering and in some cases here at school not working. The internet has become an invaluable resource that becomes difficult to conduct education without it. CMT wanted a solution that would solve some of those existing issues and minimize others. In addition, in the event of failures, our internet would be unavailable since there wasn't any redundancy to Lightspeed. 


Why was iBoss selected?
*Fewest obstructions to filtering the internet
*Redundancy built in if the hardware would fail. We had three "blade servers" where if on or two failed internet filtering would still work. If all three failed, we could direct the internet to their servers for filtering.
*Best management and reporting tools of those we tested. 

Why are we going back to Lightspeed?
CMT researched several solutions last winter and spring and concluded iBoss would be the best solution. Lightspeed was a top contender, but some of the issues we faced with them, especially with at home filtering, were concerns we couldn’t prove were solved with their new version at the time of our decision. After looking at it again this week, we are far more comfortable going back to Lightspeed. In addition to a complete new version of software to run Lightspeed, we are starting over with all new hardware as well. We expect it to be much better than it was in the past and eliminate most of our issues we had. 

The other solutions didn't meet our minimum of expectations for reporting, management, and redundancy. 

What can we do to help?
If you requested a site to be unblocked in the past you may need to do it again. The more you help us with this the more we can help you gain access to sites you and your students need. 

CMT had 10 years configuring the old Lightspeed, it will take time to configure the new and improved Lightspeed since we are starting over. We are not bringing over anything from the old Lightspeed since we believe starting over will eliminate some issues everyone had with it in the past. 

 

 

Posted by DCHASE On 22 September, 2017 at 1:51 PM  

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