Even before the Children´s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) of 2000, the federal government had attempted to introduce web content and URL filtering for elementary schools. Both the Communications Decency Act (1996) and the Child Online protection Act (1998) were found to be unconstitutional, and even CIPA had to survive a legal challenge prior to being enforced in 2003.
Objectors to the legislation argued that the language of the Acts was too broad and could be interpreted as a restriction of free speech. Subsequent improvements to filtering technology have overcome these objections, and now twenty-four states have enacted similar legislation to protect children against “access to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors”.
How URL Filtering for Elementary Schools Works
URL filtering for elementary schools works by comparing a request to visit a website against a list of URLs known to contain material inappropriate to children. These lists can be obtained from the websites of Internet safety groups or supplied by a filtering service provider. They are frequently updated as new websites are created containing adult material.
It is also possible to obtain lists of websites known to be harboring malware and known phishing sites. When a request is made to visit an infected website, the filter denies the request and the user is shown a message informing them why the request has been denied. Using these lists, URL filtering for elementary schools provides a level of protection against phishing.
Web Content Filtering for Elementary Schools Takes Protection to a Higher Level
Web content filtering for elementary schools uses category and keyword filters to block access to specific categories of website or web pages containing certain words. System administrators choose which categories filters they wish to apply from a range including pornography, racial abuse and religious intolerance. Keyword filters can be applied to block or allow access to certain web pages.
In order to be fully effective, web content filtering for schools should have SSL inspection. This feature reads the content of encrypted web sites (those with a https:// prefix) before allowing access. Web content filters unable to read encrypted websites will not be able to prevent children accessing inappropriate material or being exposed to online predators.
Other Factors to Consider with Elementary School Filtering Solutions
In order to maximize the effectiveness of web content filtering for elementary schools, the chosen filtering solution should be sufficiently versatile to set different filtering settings for different age groups. It should also be possible to apply multi-lingual filter settings, prevent access to numerical IP addresses, and prevent the use of VPNs, proxy servers and anonymizer website services. The ability to extend protection for students at home is important. During the pandemic, when many students had to complete online lessons using school-issued Chromebooks or their own personal devices, this feature of web filters became essential. School web filters could be extended to protect devices off the school network through a roaming agent installed on the devices.
There should also be a comprehensive reporting suite so that administrators are advised of attempts to access prohibited content or circumnavigate the filter´s parameters. With this information, administrators can ensure that acceptable use policies are adhered to – the enforcement of acceptable use policies also a requirement of CIPA for schools applying for E-Rate discounts.
Elementary School Filtering Solutions from TitanHQ
TitanHQ offers schools, libraries and colleges a selection of elementary school filtering solutions. WebTitan solutions provide constantly updated URL filtering for elementary schools and – at the same time – a versatile mechanism of web content filtering for elementary schools that has a high degree of granularity yet a low maintenance overhead. The only difference between our elementary school filtering solutions is how they are deployed:
- WebTitan Gateway is a virtual appliance installed behind a school´s firewall. Offering the highest level of anti-virus protection, WebTitan Gateway is compatible with all operating systems and universally scalable.
- WebTitan Cloud is a cloud-based filtering solution that has a quick installation and configuration process. Equally as versatile as WebTitan Gateway, WebTitan for Cloud is managed via an online portal that can be accessed from any Internet-connected device.
- WebTitan Cloud for WiFi has been designed for elementary schools that offer a wireless network for students to connect to. There is no limit on how many students can connect simultaneously to this solution, which delivers a filtered Internet service with imperceptible latency.
Try WebTitan Free for Fourteen Days
Although web content and URL filtering for elementary schools is required by law in many jurisdictions, schools have a moral obligation to protect their students from online profanity and web-borne threats. Therefore, we are inviting schools, libraries and colleges in all areas to try WebTitan free for fourteen days – with no credit cards required, no contracts to sign and no obligation to continue using the service after fourteen days.
In order to take advantage of this opportunity, simply contact us and discuss your current situation with one of our sales technicians. Our sales technician will determine which of our elementary school filtering solutions is most appropriate for your needs, and walk you through the registration process. If you subsequently need any assistance configuring your elementary school filtering solution, our team will be at hand to give you all the help you need.
Even if your school has already implemented web content and URL filtering for elementary schools, we invite you to give us a call. It may be possible to greatly reduce your Internet filtering costs and improve usability. A comparison of your current solution and WebTitan might help you with forming workable acceptable use policies and enforcing them. Importantly, it will help you better protect your students against harmful online material and web-borne threats.