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A blog about a possible internet filtering solution for libraries



Library Internet Filtering

Frankly, I think the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Children's Internet Protection Act case was wrong.
It is virtually always wrong to censor information, especially in a library. But that is how the law in the United States stands at the moment and if a library accepts federal funding it must install internet filtering technology on all of its internet enabled computers.


This website is about a particular internet filtering product IF 2K and its application to libraries.

This product is flexible, publishes its block list, is reasonably priced and it can be configured to meet library's particular requirements.

It is not a perfect solution but it is inexpensive and, with librarians' input, the least obnoxious filtering solution on the market.

Links
Jay Currie
IF 2K

Monday, June 30, 2003

Filtering and Religion


via the Shifted Librarian
Nancy Williard wrote a report entitled Filtering Software: The Religious Connection. Unfortunately it is no longer available at the link provided at Library Journal. If anyone has a copy of the report or a link to where it can be found I would be happy to put it up at this site or provide a link.

Update
via Catablog Here is the Williard paper.

Update II
Nancy Willard writes:

Thanks for your suspicions about folks who have an agenda. Pay close
attention to what the ALA will be doing with respect to filtering. They will
be looking for products that provide full disclosure about their
methodologies, that are only blocking the porn garbage, and have a really
easy to implement override system, preferably an override that can be
implemented at the desktop without librarian intervention.

One of the things that has happened in filtering is that while filtering
started out as a means to block access to porn, it has migrated into a
technological approach to manage Internet use. This has resulted in
increased filtering categories and product functions -- all of which have
added to cost. Libraries need "filtering-lite" at a very low cost, with high
accountability and usability.


We agree. Most of the feedback we have been getting has stressed the need for limited blocking and easy over-ride. And everyone is concerned about the filtering companies' agenda.

It is tough to prove you don't have an agenda but, if we did, would we have this weblog up and would we be linking the Seth Finkelstein?


Filtering News



There is an excellent summary of filtering News at The Shifted Librarian.

Interesting that North Dakota is approaching the issue on a statewide basis. This makes a good deal of sense as most commercial filtering solutions, including IF2K, discount their product according to the number of licences purchased. As well, by implementing filtering statewide North Dakota will ensure that there is a uniformity of blocking. While this cuts both ways from an anti-censorship perspective, it does at least ensure that every citizen of the state is treated the same way.

The other advantage of a statewide program is that the creation of "white lists" could be co-ordinated centrally.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Internet filtering Roundup



via Liblog

The Washington Post has a valuable roundup of press reaction to the SCOTUS CIPA decision.

Co-operative Filtering



I received a wonderful note from Marylaine Block responding to my rquest for comments from librarians on what they'd like in filtering tech.

Along with wanting to turn it off - echoing many other responses - Marylaine suggested that librarians be given an advisory role in designing block lists and bringing a degree of human oversight into the filtering process.

While I am waiting for confirmation from our technical folk on some of the specifics of Marylaine's comments the idea of co-operation with librarians is one of the key drivers of this program. The IF2K filtering technology is designed to be easily configured so that "white lists" can be added to the mix. This allows a level of librarian input at every level. In local libraries a librarian can create specific white lists for either local resources or to match the requirements he or she percieves in the community.

At a national level it would be relatively easy for the ALA to act as a clearing house for topic specific "white lists" which could be downloaded and would allow local librarians to customize their IF2K filtering.

And it is also possible for 3rd party organizations to create white lists of sites which they could make available to librarians using the system.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Four Score



via textism

If only Abe had Powerpoint he could have made a great presentation at Gettysburg.

A little warm up to help deal with the sales guys who are going to be arriving at the library.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Filter Problems I



via Instapundit

Mark Glaser has a roundup of reaction to the CIPA decision.

The problem is at all the various schools and libraries throughout the country. Who polices these software controls? Anyone with an agenda.


As they say in blog land, read the whole thing.

First Ammendment Friendly



Jerry Berman, the president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a high-tech policy group in Washington, said libraries should use their buying power. "I hope that they turn this unwelcome decision into an opportunity to make filtering First Amendment-friendly," he said, including requiring companies to disclose sites they block and to make programs easy for librarians to turn off and on.
link et seq new york times


there are the two key questions for librarians: does the filter provider disclose the sites it blocks and can a librarian, without becoming a code monkey, turn off filtering for adult users.

Some libraries may decide to forgo federal financing if the alternative is filtering, said Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the Washington office of the American Library Association. "Some library boards have already decided that they are not going to offer their library patrons second-rate information," she said. `They are going to make sure that their library patrons get access to the same quality of information that rich people get at home."


We agree. And filters which overblock or can't be turned off will mean library patrons really do get "second-rate infomation".

Plus most of the filtering solutions out there are based on an installation price plus a yearly subscription fee. Lirarians and Library Boards need to evaluate the total cost of filter implementation over a number of years. Our filter, IF 2003 does not charge any subscription or update fees.A library pays once and that's it. Updates are free.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Overblocking


A key argument against filtering is that it tends to "overblock", that is a filter will include websites which are not offensive in any way. The classic example is the blocking of breast cancer sites because they mention, well, breasts.

IF 2003 has tried to address this issue with context sensitive filtering algorithms; but a computer is only so smart so there are manual overides built in.

Because we make our "block list" available to registered users a user can delete material which, in their view, is not offensive. We leave it up to the library to decide what should be blocked.

On/Off


One assumption that SCOTUS made in its decision was that libraries would be able to turn off filtering for their adult users. Easier said than done but with IF 2003 on/off capacity is built right in.

A librarian with the proper access can turn the filter off for a particular computer or group of computers. He or she can also turn the filer off for a set number of minutes for a particular computer knowing that it will come back on when the time is up.

This feature allows adults to have full surfing privledges just by asking.

Pricing



The cost of filtering solutions can be huge where a library or system of libraries may have hundreds or even thousands of internet enabled computers.

Worse, the cost of filtering in many cases is ongoing: there is an intital purchase price and then a yearly subscription. IF 2003 has a relatively low purchase price and no subscription fees ever.

The one time fee for a 10 computer intallation is $ 435.00 or $43.00 per computer
The one time fee for 100 computers is $ 2,485.00 or $24.85 per computer
The one time fee for 1000 computers is $13,485.00 or $13.48 per computer

This intital purchase price is all a library will ever pay for the IF Filtering solution!

If you have already invested in filtering software you may be eligible for our competitive upgrade program.

Cost of ownership over even a couple of years is significantly lower with IF 2003 - click here for cost comparisons with other Filter Companies


Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Internet Filtering for Libraries



The recent Supreme Court ruling on the Children's Internet Protection Act means that any library in America which has internet access and accepts federal funding must install an Internet Filter.

Librarians have expressed concern that most commercial filters available today do not publish a list of the sites they block, are hard to modify in special circumstances and are expensive.

This website is about an Internet Filtering technology which:

1) makes its block list available;
2) is easy to modify
3) costs less to buy than any comparable product on the market - a one time fee with no subscription or maintenance charges.

It is also about a technology which can be installed on one machine or 50,000 machines.

I will be writing more about this technology on this site in the next few days but if you want to find out more right now go to

IF 2003

For more information email Jay Currie

Archives

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