Internet filters: What do they really block?
by John Bowen
“For speech class, senior Dave Jennings needed to find information about Nirvana and Kurt Cobain,” Maggie Beckwith, senior reporter for the Lakewood Times, began her story on the effects of Internet filtering.
“I was trying to go to the Rolling Stone magazine web site to get lyrics” Jennings said. “I couldn’t get to anything.”
Later in the story, Beckwith quoted Judith Krug, director of the Office of Intellectual Freedom, a division of the American Library Association. “Administrators can say they are ‘protecting the children’ but no they not. Filters limit choices young people have in terms of accessing school work and pursuing their own intellectual curiosity.”
That was in 2002.
Beckwith went on to study journalism at Syracuse University and interned at the Student Press Law Center.
Internet filters continued blocking legitimate sites.
Since then, groups have challenged the effectiveness of Internet filters as educationally unsound and operations for prior review and censors that set up barriers and taboos instead of educating you, according to a fact sheet on The Free Expression Policy Project website.
To raise awareness of overly restrictive blocking in schools and school libraries of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools, The American Association of School Librarians has designated Wednesday, Sept. 24 as Banned Websites Awareness Day.
AASL asked school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning as part of Banned Books Week.
As part of that recognition, JEA’s Scholastic Press Rights committee will conduct a national survey of the impact of Internet filters beginning that day and last a week. We invite you and your students to take part in the survey by going to jeasprc.org and accessing the survey information there.
The commission asks students and advisers to test their Internet filters to see if their filtering goes beyond what filters are charged with blocking by the Children’s Internet Protection Act as numerous studies and groups have argued.
When information has been gathered, SPRC will report on the survey’s results and share that data.
Please check the committee’s website, its Facebook page or JEA’s Facebook page Sept. 24 for access to the survey.