A recent article on the UK Government’s plans to introduce ISP level Web content filtering provoked the usual level of interesting responses and heated debate. Unfortunately, the article and some of the responses also contained the usual vitriolic attacks on Web content filtering companies who are “unaccountable, sleazy censorware companies”.
In addition, the myth that it’s impossible to accurately inspect and categorise web content in real-time is perpetuated. The technology to do this is not “science fiction” as the article claims, but is now a reality.
The journalist is correct about the growth of the Web – millions of new or updated URLs being created every day. That’s why the types of approaches that seem to be talked about in the article are unsustainable and no longer fit for purpose.
As the article rightly states: “As for human filtering: there simply aren’t enough people of sound judgment in all the world to examine all the Web pages that have been created and continue to be created around the clock, and determine whether they are good pages or bad pages.”
Software, such as Bloxx’s Tru-View Technology, can deliver the real time classification of Web pages as they are requested by users and then apply the filtering policy. This is a dramatic step change from using human resources to create block or allow lists of Web pages. It also addresses the issues of pages being blocked through the use of less sophisticated approaches such as keyword scanning and scoring.
One point on which we do agree with however, is that content filtering is not the panacea, and that young people need to be informed about the risks and dangers to be found on the Internet. The reality is it’s not if they will stumble upon inappropriate content, but when. That needs parents to take a strong interest in what their kids are doing online, and not blaming everyone else. You wouldn’t throw your five year old into a swimming pool with no arm bands or without teaching them the basics of swimming, so giving them unsupervised open access to the Web needs to be viewed in a similar way. There are loads of great resources to help parents get a better understanding, and we have listed a few below.