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> From: Joel VerDuin <firstname.lastname@example.org> > > Nancy, > > To your question about, "So who is deciding what sites students can and > cannot access? And is this constitutional?" - I would offer two answers. > > The company decides to some extent - and this is true in almost any product I > know of on the market today (8E6 or otherwise). The company categorize the > sites. > > My second answer is, locally, we accept or reject their categorizations... To > some extent, "we the school system professionals" decide what is and what is > not filtered. Granted this goes well in some schools and less well in others > - but that is not the fault of the company itself. > > And we all know that we only reject the categorizations when we actually find > out about them. This means that some sites might remain blocked and we'd > never know it because nobody ever tried the site. > > I don't know that a school system would be hung on the line for whether or > not there was a Constitutionality issue. If your product is categorizing and > discriminating on viewpoint AND you know about it AND you are doing nothing > about it - then there could be some cause for alarm. Pretty understanding of good constitutional law, Joel. Schools have a constitutional and statutory obligation not to discriminate based on religion or gender - this includes sexual orientation. So the best way to consider whether or not they might be engaging in unconstitutional bias in blocking is to look for these categories. It is also important to consider whether the filtering companies might be blocking material that students ought to be able to access in categories with material that no one would argue they should access. Symantec used to have a filtering product with a category called "sexuality" that included sites addressing sexual technique, multiple partner relationships, and homosexuality. They blocked the support sites like GLAAD and GLSEN in this category - but did not block the religious sites objecting to the "gay agenda." Here from 8e6: <http://www.m86security.com/resources/database-categories.asp#paranormal> Society/Lifestyles: Lifestyle Sites that contain material relative to an individual's personal life choices. This includes sexual preference, cultural identity, or organization/club affiliations. Sample sites: www.qrd.org, www.gaywired.com, www.polyorlando.org (On the BSecure site this category is described as follows: "Lifestyle (blocked by default) Sites that contain material relative to an individual's personal choices. This category includes advocating sexual lifestyles outside of marriage.") Religion: Paranormal Sites dealing with subjects of the paranormal. This includes topics such as mysticism, UFOs, Astrology, Numerology, the Occult, and conspiracy theories. Sample sites: www.ufomind.com, www.prairieghosts.com, astrology.yahoo.com Wanna bet that support sites for LGBTQ teens are in the Lifestyle category? Highly likely. But it is also highly likely that there are sites blocked in this category that would not be at all appropriate for teens - just like heterosexual lifestyle sites would not be appropriate. For the record, Pagan/Wicca is a protected religion - yes, there are cases on this. So likely are all "earth based" religions. Likely all of which are blocked in this category. Block or not block? Hmm, let's look at Websense: <http://www.websense.com/content/urlcategories.aspx> Religion Parent category that contains the categories: * Non-Traditional Religions and Occult and Folklore - Sites that provide information about or promote religions not specified in Traditional Religions or other unconventional, cultic, or folkloric beliefs and practices. * Traditional Religions - Sites that provide information about or promote Bahai, Buddhism, Christian Science, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, Shinto, and Sikhism, as well as atheism. Should you block Non-traditional? Better not. Society and Lifestyles * Gay or Lesbian or Bisexual Interest - Sites that provide information about or cater to gay, lesbian, or bisexual lifestyles, but excluding those that are sexually or issue-oriented. Again potential sexual orientation discrimination - but also likely some sites that are likely not appropriate for teens. So do you block or not block? Baracuda's categories are not apparently discriminatory. <http://www.barracudanetworks.com/ns/technology/content-categories.php> But the company does not mention homosexuality or non-traditional religions at all. So where might they be blocking these sites? Not sure. Lightspeed is the only company that seems to distinguish between what might be appropriate for students and adults in the homosexuality category. <http://reports.lightspeedsystems.com/Reports/Databases/CategoriesDefault.aspx> Under "Adult" they have "adult.lifestyles Adult lifestyles" (Their adult category appears to include all of the categories that I would recommend blocking - porn as well as hate, violence, and the like.) Under a category of "Normally Unblocked" "Education" they have "education.lifestyles Education about lifestyles - gay, lesbian, alternate" and under "Family Life" they have "family.religion Religion & Spirituality" I totally agree with the need to have a robust overriding approach - preferably starting with the librarians at the school having override authority. This way they can mentor other teachers on literacy and web site credibility. But if your district may also be blocking categories in areas that could raise concerns to a student if he or she asked for an override - such as a student who is questioning his or her sexual orientation - the student likely will not ask for access unless this can be done confidentially. Oh, and don't think that you are not going to get into trouble for unconstitutional blocking. <http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights_hiv-aids/aclu-sues-stop-tennessee-schools-censoring-gay-educational-web-sites> May 19, 2009 Filtering Software Allows Anti-Gay Sites NASHVILLE, TN – The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Tennessee sued two Tennessee school districts in federal court today, charging the schools are unconstitutionally blocking students from accessing online information about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Knox County Schools and as many as 105 other school districts in Tennessee use Internet filtering software to block Web sites containing pro-LGBT speech, but not Web sites touting so-called "reparative therapy" and "ex-gay" ministries. The "LGBT" filter is not used to block sites containing pornography, which are filtered under a different category, but it does block the sites of many well-known LGBT organizations including Parents, Families, And Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Nancy -- Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D. Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use http://csriu.org email@example.com --- Edtech Archives, posting guidelines and other information are at: http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~edweb Please include your name, email address, and school or professional affiliation in each posting. To unsubscribe send the following command to: LISTSERV@H-NET.MSU.EDU SIGNOFF EDTECH