I’ve been thinking about Internet filtering and blocking in schools, trying to puzzle through the shades of gray and understand how current policies in this area can seem like a good idea to anyone.

I understand that filtering is mandated by law. At one extreme, most people can probably agree that blocking access to pornographic sites is a good idea. At the other extreme, we can (hopefully) all agree that blocking access to all Internet is a bad idea.

In between there are a lot of gray areas. Here are some questions that I think are worth some thought and discussion:

– Who should make the decisions about what is blocked? The federal government, the state, districts, schools, or individual parents?
– Are there any filtering systems that kids can’t get around?
– Should general tools (blogging sites, wikis, video sharing sites, nings, etc.) be blocked across the board, even though they may host some sites that are potentially objectionable?
– If we start blocking tools like this, doesn’t that logically lead to blocking most or all Internet sites? (How about paper and pencils? These too are tools that can be used to create objectionable content.)
– Can technology be used more intelligently to filter?
– What treasures are we depriving students of by blocking sites that don’t even have objectionable content? (Is this a technological challenge or a human decision?)
– Where are the respective borders of responsibility and censorship?
– What message are we sending students with our filtering policies?

I’m really trying to see both sides of this issue, but I guess my bias is showing. Please comment on this post. I’m especially interesting is heaving from anyone who could explain any possible rationale for blocking things like Blogger statewide. (Of course, if you live in one of those states, I guess you won’t be able to post a comment anyway. Sigh…)

Internet blocking – help me understand
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