Skip to main content

Internet Content Filtering

INTERNET CONTENT FILTERING


To comply with federal law, Lincoln County School District (LCSD) #1 employs several methods of Internet content filtering and monitoring. However, no Internet content filtering system can be 100% effective in preventing access to harmful and inappropriate material. There is a risk that students may access material not considered to be of educational value in the school setting. Students receive instruction on what to do if they accidentally access such material. 

Users should not use district resources to view or otherwise gain access to potentially objectionable materials. This includes text materials, video, images, or sound files that may be considered objectionable in an educational setting. If students mistakenly access inappropriate information, they should immediately disclose this access to their teacher or other supervising staff member. If students find that other users are visiting offensive or harmful sites, they should report such use to the supervising teacher. 

There are times when filtering may not catch objectionable material, and there are ways to bypass any filtering.  Students should always use vigilance, care, and guidance, especially when students are using Internet resources in the classroom. 

QUESTIONS

What devices are protected by the content filter?

By law, all connections made from within the District network to any Internet resource are filtered.  This includes student traffic, staff traffic, and any users on our "guest" network. 

As a receiver of federal E-rate monies, LCSD #1 must provide Internet content filtering to all connections from network and from any district owned devices. We use a physical network appliance that filters Internet traffic (ours is provided by Sophos, a company specializing in cyber security and web control). 

What content is automatically filtered by the district?

Sites we block and/or filter are divided into three categories: 

  • Sites we must block: Federal requirements state that sites categorized as adult and pornography must be blocked for all educational users (students and staff).  
  • Sites we should block: We choose to block additional categories such as security and malware, “parked” network domains, and peer-to-peer traffic.  We also choose to block proxy/VPN sites and services that would allow savvy students to bypass content filtering by using an offsite service as a “stand-in” for their Internet requests.  These sites are not required to be blocked, but are considered undesirable for security.    
  • Sites we choose to block: These vary by school level but are generally considered time-wasters, waste of network bandwidth, and/or undesirable in an educational setting.  These include alcohol, drugs, gambling, “offensive,” some streaming music and video hosting sites, and sites allowing the posting of anonymous comments, chat, and bullying. 

 

How do we accomplish content filtering?

We employ several content filtering methods: 

  • Every device connecting within our network that generates Internet traffic must pass through our Sophos XG content filter. The filtering appliance applies filtering rules depending on criteria such as school of origin and user group (staff, students, or guest).  Sites are categorized by Sophos and their database is updated daily. This is a “passive” filtering that works no matter who owns the device; it watches all traffic.    
  • For student one-to-one Chromebooks, an additional filtering solution named Securly is in place. Securly filters all traffic on a Chromebook, even if that Chromebook is used outside of the network boundaries (at home, at the public library, etc). E-rate requires us to provide filtering to student-issued devices that we own, no matter where they may be used. This is an “active” agent that is installed on every Chromebook and cannot be turned off (and students sure have been trying).    
  • YouTube Safety Mode is turned on for all Chromebook users, and all traffic that comes in and out of the district network. Safety mode should not show videos that are from personal accounts and/or not tagged with relevant categories, such as news and education. Incidentally, we receive numerous complaints about safety mode being overprotective and blocking valid educational content.  

 

However, a growing number of students possess smartphones with their own third-party Internet connection (i.e. Verizon or Union.) These are not on the district network or owned by the district; therefore, they are not protected by district filtering.