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Author Topic: Connecticut highschool blocks conservative websites, allows liberal ones
Seneca
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quote:
One of the lessons that Andrew Lampart learned from being on his school’s debate team was to gather facts for both sides of an argument. So last month when his law class was instructed to prepare for a debate on gun control, Andrew went online using the school’s Internet service.

“I knew it was important to get facts for both sides of the case,” said the 18-year-old at Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury, Connecticut.

When Andrew tried to log onto the National Rifle Association’s website, he realized there was a problem – a big problem.

“Their website was blocked,” he told me. Andrew decided to try the Second Amendment Foundation’s website. That too, was blocked.

His curiosity got the best of him – so Andrew tried logging on to several pro-gun control websites. Imagine his surprise when he discovered the pro-gun control websites were not blocked.


“I became curious as to why one side was blocked and the other side was not,” he said.
Andrew decided to set aside his debate preparation and started researching other conservative websites. He soon discovered that he had unfettered access to liberal websites, but conservative websites were blocked.

For example, the Connecticut Republican Party website was blocked. The Connecticut Democratic Party website was not blocked. National Right to Life was blocked, but Planned Parenthood was not blocked. Connecticut Family, a pro-traditional marriage group, was blocked, but LGBT Nation was not blocked.

Andrew found that even Pope Francis was blocked from the school’s web service. But although he could not access the Vatican website, the school allowed him to access an Islamic website.


“This is really border line indoctrination,” Andrew told me. “Schools are supposed to be fair and balanced towards all ways of thinking. It’s supposed to encourage students to formulate their own opinions. Students aren’t able to do that here at the school because they are only being fed one side of the issue.”

Andrew gathered his evidence and requested a meeting with the principal. The principal referred him to the superintendent, which he did. The superintendent promised to look into the matter and fix the problem.

“I gave him a week to fix the problem,” Andrew said. “But nothing had been done.”

So last Monday, Andrew took his mountain of evidence to the school board.

“They seemed surprised,” he said. “They told me they were going to look into the problem.”
Since the school board didn’t resolve the problem, I decided to take a crack at it.

Superintendent Jody Goeler sent me a rather lengthy letter explaining what happened.

He admitted there are “apparent inconsistencies” in the school district’s filtering system “particularly along conservative and liberal lines.”

“Many of the liberal sites accessible to the student fell into the ‘not rated’ category, which was unblocked while many of the conservative sites were in the ‘political/advocacy group’ category which is accessible to teachers but not to students,” he said in a written statement. “The district is trying to determine the reason for the inconsistency and if the bias is pervasive enough to justify switching to another content filtering provider.”

I find it hard to believe the superintendent needs more evidence to make that determination.
“The district does not block individual sites, only categories of websites,” he wrote. “The categories are supposed to be inclusive of all sites that fall into a common description.”

Without getting into the weeds here, the school district is blaming the blocking on Dell SonicWall, their content filtering service. They said they are waiting for Dell SonicWall to clarify its process for assigning websites to categories.

Dell SonicWall did not return my telephone call so I can’t tell you whether the district’s statement is the gospel truth or baloney. But something smells fishy.

Superintendent Goeler said they have “an interest in exposing students to a wide and varying number of viewpoints."

“The district does engage in unblocking sites to provide diverse points of view and balance in the instructional process,” he wrote.

Pardon me, sir, but that’s a load of unadulterated, Grade-A hooey.

The National Rifle Association, Red State, SarahPac.com, National Right to Life, Second Amendment Foundation, Paul Ryan for Congress, Town Hall, TeaParty.org, ProtectMarriage.com, and Christianity.com are just some of the websites the school blocked.

And they still remain blocked.

“The thing that bothers me the most is that public education is supposed to be neutral,” Andrew said. “It’s supposed to expose kids to both sides of an issue and allow them to formulate their own opinions.”

Andrew has discovered the issue I write about in my new book, “God Less America.” Public schools have become leftwing indoctrination centers.

“Students are only being given information from one side of the issue,” he said. “They are told this is the information we are giving you – make the most of it. They are not giving them both sides of the argument.”

Andrew Lampart has done his community and his nation a great public service by exposing the politically correct firewall that was erected at Nonnewaug High School.

And now we must do our part and demand a free exchange of ideas not just in Woodbury, Connecticut, but around the nation.

Mr. Superintendent, tear down this wall!

Smart kid to get to the bottom of this despite the Leftinista Machinery of the District trying to shut him down repeatedly.
It doesn't surprise me that the NEA-indoctrinated public school system is openly abusing system administrative powers to unblock all their pet liberal sites, while leaving conservative sites blocked by default. I'm willing to bet all of it was blocked by the stock filter from Dell, but did everyone see the quote from the Superintendant that the district DOES manually unlock sites that it wants to? Clearly they can't claim this is an IT-issue that is out of their hands. In 2014 everything is fairly intuitive and it doesn't surprised me that a washed-up liberal teacher or school administrator has found a way to abuse this system.

Public education is a sacred trust, it is the shaping of our next generation's minds. And apparently liberal teachers are too greedy to be objective and not force their indoctrination on our youth. In my opinion whoever did this should be fired, but knowing the average tenure and collective bargaining protections that the perpetrator probably has, I doubt there will even be a verbal reprimand. If there is a consequence, it will probably be just a slap on the wrist for getting caught, not because it was wrong.

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LetterRip
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Here are the software categories for Dell Sonicwall

quote:

Abortion/Advocacy Groups
Adult/Mature Content
Advertisements
Alcohol/Tobacco
Arts/Entertainment
Business/Economy
Chat/Instant Messaging
Cult/Occult
Cultural Institutions
Drugs/Illegal Drugs
Education
Email
For Kids
Freeware/Software Downloads
Gambling
Games
Government
Hacking/Proxy Avoidance Systems
Health
Humor/Jokes
Illegal Skills/Questionable Skills
Information Technology/Computers
Internet Auctions
Internet Watch Foundation CAIC
Intimate Apparel/Swimsuits
Job Search
Malware
Military
Multimedia
News/Media
Nudism
Online Banking
Online Brokerage/Trading
Pay to Surf
Personals & Dating
Political & Advocacy Groups
Pornography
Real Estate
Reference
Religion
Restaurants and Dining
Search Engines & Portals
Sex Education
Shopping
Social Networking
Society and Lifestyle
Sports/Recreation
Travel
Usenet News Groups
Vehicles
Violence, Hate & Racism
Weapons
Web Communications
Web Hosting
Other

http://www.sonicwall.com/us/en/products/Network_Security_Content_Filtering_Categories.html

It does have categories for weapons, religion, political and advocacy groups, and abortion. If they are only filtering sites from the top 100,000 searches or whatever - then he may have chosen small sites.

[ June 19, 2014, 08:37 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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LetterRip
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What doesn't make sense is why would the local republican site and not the local democratic site not be blocked. It is possible that it is a hosting issue - that is if one site is hosted with a high traffic site (ie the GOP site is part of the main GOP hub) and the other is a small independent site, then the first would have enough traffic to go in the political category, whereas the second would not have enough traffic to be classified. Similar for the islamic site, etc.

The software does has custom whitelisting and blacklisting so it is possible that someone doing deliberate blocking based on politics but it is also possible that it is just a poor design issue for the filtering software. Would be interesting if we could find someone who has a trial of the software and see what it does/doesn't block.

[ June 19, 2014, 08:43 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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Seneca
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quote:
What doesn't make sense is why would the local republican site and not the local democratic site not be blocked. It is possible that it is a hosting issue - that is if one site is hosted with a high traffic site (ie the GOP site is part of the main GOP hub) and the other is a small independent site, then the first would have enough traffic to go in the political category, whereas the second would not have enough traffic to be classified. Similar for the islamic site, etc.
Let me quote the article for you in case you missed it.
quote:
the Connecticut Republican Party website was blocked. The Connecticut Democratic Party website was not blocked.
These weren't neighborhood, local, city or district party websites, these were the state party websites.

Here they are:
http://www.ctgop.org/
quote:
Registrant Org Domains By Proxy, LLC was found in ~10,912,200 other domains
Dates Created on 1997-08-18 - Expires on 2014-08-17 - Updated on 2012-09-05
IP Address 64.203.108.81 - 75 other sites hosted on this server
IP Location United States - Tennessee - Chattanooga - Smartech Corporation
ASN United States AS25817 SMARTECHCORP - SMARTECH CORPORATION,US (registered May 14, 2002)
Domain Status Registered And Active Website
Whois History 48 records have been archived since 2001-08-18
IP History 12 changes on 6 unique IP addresses over 9 years
Hosting History 6 changes on 5 unique name servers over 11 years
Whois Server whois.pir.org
Website
Website Title The Connecticut Republican Party | CTGOP.org
Server Type Apache
Response Code 200
SEO Score 87%
Terms 288 (Unique: 173, Linked: 78)
Images 9 (Alt tags missing: 1)
Links 39 (Internal: 33, Outbound: 4)

http://ctdems.org/
quote:

Created on 1996-08-21 - Expires on 2017-08-20 - Updated on 2012-05-08
IP Address 216.194.166.122 - 95 other sites hosted on this server
IP Location United States - California - Los Angeles - Inmotion Hosting Inc.
ASN United States AS22611 IMH-WEST - InMotion Hosting, Inc.,US (registered Nov 02, 2012)
Domain Status Registered And Active Website
Whois History 40 records have been archived since 2001-08-27
IP History 13 changes on 9 unique IP addresses over 8 years
Hosting History 3 changes on 3 unique name servers over 8 years
Whois Server whois.pir.org
Website
Website Title Connecticut Democratic Party
Server Type Apache
Response Code 200
SEO Score 76%
Terms 2696 (Unique: 963, Linked: 245)
Images 20 (Alt tags missing: 12)
Links 118 (Internal: 58, Outbound: 59)

As you can see, that explanation doesn't fly.

quote:
The software does has custom whitelisting and blacklisting so it is possible that someone doing deliberate blocking based on politics
No, it isn't just possible, the Superintendant stated that it is purposefully done on a regular basis. Here is his statement:
quote:

“The district does engage in unblocking sites to provide diverse points of view and balance in the instructional process,” he wrote.

Clearly it is not simply a case of this:
quote:
but it is also possible that it is just a poor design issue for the filtering software

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Adam Masterman
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Seneca, you aren't getting what's going on here. My district uses a filter, as does nearly every district in the country. We don't make our own; no one does. You buy one; and you might have 2-3 people in the entire district who know how it works. Administrators are highly unlikely to be among those few.

The Superintendent said that they sometimes "unblock" sites to "blah blah blah". What that means is that you can write in an exception to the filtering, and allow a specific website to be shown which is normally blocked. I've requested it in my district for some art sites that trip the nudity filter (I teach art). Your request gets sent to the district tech admin, or whoever fills that role, and they have to review the site, determine if its something they want to allow (possibly in consultation with other administrators) and then manually create an exception for it. Its a rare process, because it takes time and effort from everyone involved, so it really only happens when a teacher has a specific site they want to use for instruction. Its not on a "regular basis", nor does the Superintendent in this quote even say that; he just says that it happens. Any teacher can tell you that its rare.

Its also not something that teachers have access to. The filtering software is housed on the district server, or whatever they use as their internet hub. Even if I was some movie computer hacker, I couldn't fiddle with my district's filter unless I went to the tech office and used their machines. And knew the admin passwords for those machines. Which I'm not allowed to have, because there are very strict laws governing how information is shared in schools.

Probably anticipating this exact paranoid conspiracy, the superintendent posted the letter in full on the district website. Obviously there is a cover-up going on when the head of the district publicly admits there is a problem, and outlines all the steps being taken to rectify it in a completely transparent manner. [Roll Eyes]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
the Connecticut Republican Party website was blocked. The Connecticut Democratic Party website was not blocked.
Man, you keep bringing up "scandals" that, because they're literally right in my professional wheelhouse, keep making you look ignorant and grumpy, like an old man complaining about weird-looking kids on his lawn.

quote:
No, it isn't just possible, the Superintendant stated that it is purposefully done on a regular basis.
So here's what you've got to know in order to conclude that there "clearly" is bias: 1) that both political party sites were originally blocked; 2) that someone requested that the Democratic site be unblocked, at which point it was; and 3) that someone requested that the Republican site be unblocked, and it was not (in a timeframe similar to #2).

I should also note that InMotion is a fairly reputable hosting provider, whereas I've never heard anything about "Smartech." So it's possible that SonicWall, depending on its filtering criteria, may well have flagged one and not the other.

The way this sort of software works in schools is as follows:

1) A school buys it.
2) It gets installed on their proxy server.
3) It gets reviewed every six months or so, when someone thinks about it, to see if teachers are viewing porn or if some classroom is hitting restricted sites abnormally often.
4) It sends an alert if certain restricted sites are hit at all.
5) When a teacher or student tries to go to a site that they think shouldn't be restricted by the software, they tell the server admin and ask him to unblock it after review.
6) Conversely, but far more rarely, someone who hits a site -- usually a spam ad server -- that should be blocked will ask the admin to add it.
7) More often, sites are automatically added to a blacklist by the vendor. Note that the vendor also initially categorizes visited sites, often automatically (by searching for certain terms), and the school can choose which categories to permit and/or log.

I wouldn't get all het up about this, Seneca.

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TomDavidson
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And, hey, I'll add this: I do think it's very likely that there was "bias" involved in the decision to unblock Planned Parenthood. I imagine that both it and National Right to Life were blocked originally, but I'm almost certain -- as happens in almost every school -- that a guidance counselor or the like requested that Planned Parenthood be made available to students for a number of reasons. I can't think of a reason why a counselor might want to make the National Right to Life site similarly available, since it's not quite the same level of informational resource, but certainly that would have been a subjective decision; it probably never even occurred to them to unblock an anti-abortion activism site in response to avoid the appearance of bias.

The pro-gun vs. gun control question is a little harder, especially since the sites in the latter category weren't named. I suspect that the issue there is with size and notoriety, and thus a failure to correct categorize them. But that's speculation.

(As a side note: I think it's hysterical that this kid thinks that one meeting with the district's superintendent is going to get a sysadmin to start manually tweaking his firewall within the week. That's like calling your Senator when you need a pothole fixed: it might make it happen, but it might not make it happen faster than calling Public Works.)

[ June 19, 2014, 11:18 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by Adam Masterman:
Seneca, you aren't getting what's going on here. My district uses a filter, as does nearly every district in the country. We don't make our own; no one does. You buy one; and you might have 2-3 people in the entire district who know how it works. Administrators are highly unlikely to be among those few.

The Superintendent said that they sometimes "unblock" sites to "blah blah blah". What that means is that you can write in an exception to the filtering, and allow a specific website to be shown which is normally blocked. I've requested it in my district for some art sites that trip the nudity filter (I teach art). Your request gets sent to the district tech admin, or whoever fills that role, and they have to review the site, determine if its something they want to allow (possibly in consultation with other administrators) and then manually create an exception for it. Its a rare process, because it takes time and effort from everyone involved, so it really only happens when a teacher has a specific site they want to use for instruction. Its not on a "regular basis", nor does the Superintendent in this quote even say that; he just says that it happens. Any teacher can tell you that its rare.

Its also not something that teachers have access to. The filtering software is housed on the district server, or whatever they use as their internet hub. Even if I was some movie computer hacker, I couldn't fiddle with my district's filter unless I went to the tech office and used their machines. And knew the admin passwords for those machines. Which I'm not allowed to have, because there are very strict laws governing how information is shared in schools.

Probably anticipating this exact paranoid conspiracy, the superintendent posted the letter in full on the district website. Obviously there is a cover-up going on when the head of the district publicly admits there is a problem, and outlines all the steps being taken to rectify it in a completely transparent manner. [Roll Eyes]

Except nothing you said explained why the CT state democrat party website was not blocked and the CT state GOP website was blocked.

As well as the other comparisons. Brady Campaign vs NRA. Planned parenthood vs Right to life, etc, etc.

[ June 20, 2014, 12:41 AM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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MattP
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The Planned Parenthood one is easy - SonicWall classifies them at a "Health" site, while Right to Life is classified as "Political/Advocacy Groups".

Otherwise, it's as Tom says - they got some off the shelf filtering software with a default blacklist and likely add exceptions as they are asked for and approved.

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Seneca
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How about the others? CT democrats vs CT GOP?
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Mynnion
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Seneca- Since exceptions can be made based on request it is certainly possible that a the Dem site was unblocked while the GOP site was not.

That being said it IS possible that this was done purposely just like it is possible that the reverse could happen. There have always been and probably always will be those who allow their political bias to justify unethical actions. That does not mean that every time it happens there is some grand conspiracy associated with it.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
It does have categories for weapons, religion, political and advocacy groups, and abortion. If they are only filtering sites from the top 100,000 searches or whatever - then he may have chosen small sites.

More to the point, sites are rated for those categories by the CFS group at Dell, not by anyone at the school. We can go category by category on why there are leaks (particularly in cases where the comparisons are not symmetric, such as trying to equate a pro-life advocacy group with a women's health service provider that happens to offer abortions as a small part of its array of services) but for the most egregious one, I'll bet that the CT Democratic party may have changed its site since the last time it was brought the the attention of Dell's CFS group, as so was not being caught up in the appropriate filter.
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Mynnion
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Just curious to those "In the Know." Are these blocks based on site, content, or a combination?
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TomDavidson
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A combination.
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Seriati
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I am partially withholding judgment on this. I read it yesterday, and it is indefensible. There's no legitimate way to explain a consistent bias accross multiple topics.

On the other hand, it seems like commentators want to blame the school district, and its too early to say where the problem occurred. It may be with the Vendor, which would have wide ranging issues.

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Pyrtolin
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It's the vendor, for certain.Or, more accurately, the product in general. Web filtering is pretty much an impossible promise to keep, because there's simply too much data to keep up with and too many shifting ways to dodge the restrictions. Short of AI that's decades away from being usable to try to keep up on the fly.
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MattP
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quote:
How about the others? CT democrats vs CT GOP?
My guess? Someone asked for CT Dems to be unblocked and no one asked for the same for CT GOP. Given that the state leans heavily liberal it's certainly more *likely* that someone would request the former rather than the latter. There so far isn't any evidence that anything nefarious was going on. Now if a staff member had requested that CT GOP be unblocked and they were denied - that would be more interesting news.
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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
My guess? Someone asked for CT Dems to be unblocked and no one asked for the same for CT GOP. Given that the state leans heavily liberal it's certainly more *likely* that someone would request the former rather than the latter.

The school is located in an area that is more reliably Republican than Democrat.
quote:
There so far isn't any evidence that anything nefarious was going on.
There clearly is evidence. What we don't have is explanation.
quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
It's the vendor, for certain.

How could one make such a conclusion? So far this presents as systematic, if later evidence comes up that shows it isn't one sided then there could be an argument that its "clearly" a vendor problem. At this point, on its face, you'd have to conclude that this is a non-random result that someone intentionally crafted, and I don't see enough facts to decide if it was someone in the district who requested releases on a politically motivated basis, or someone at the vendor who operated on a biased basis in their restriction efforts.
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Pyrtolin
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Because it's not something very craftable by the school, and because it's a fundamental flaw of the technology in question. Whatever limited override the school may have doesn't change the the technology itself is broken, unreliable,m and very often produces just these kinds of results on a regular basis.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I read it yesterday, and it is indefensible. There's no legitimate way to explain a consistent bias accross multiple topics.
See, this is an example of what I was talking about on the other thread. Look what you just wrote. It is not indefensible. There is no evidence that there's a "consistent bias." And there are indeed legitimate ways to explain the observed potential bias.

You're letting your presuppositions force you into these ridiculous absolute statements, which produce all kinds of cognitive error. Before you emotionally commit to outrage, stop and wonder whether maybe you're not thinking about it enough.

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Seriati
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
Because it's not something very craftable by the school, and because it's a fundamental flaw of the technology in question. Whatever limited override the school may have doesn't change the the technology itself is broken, unreliable,m and very often produces just these kinds of results on a regular basis.

Maybe. We don't have the data yet though to reach that conclusion. We don't konw how the filtering was actually achieved at this point, was it fully automated, heavily manual? Was there someone at the Vendor who searched "Republican" and "Democrat" or who exercised judgment over whether system generated results got added to the political filter. It's hard to believe a fully automated system would bar a Republican but not a Democratic Site.

On the other hand, I find completely believable that Planned Parenthood would be available to high school students, even if the "other side" was not. Of course, I don't see any reason that abortion arguments should be filtered at all.

Gun Control is a lot more iffy to me.
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
See, this is an example of what I was talking about on the other thread. Look what you just wrote. It is not indefensible. There is no evidence that there's a "consistent bias." And there are indeed legitimate ways to explain the observed potential bias.

Could you be more condescending, no wait I'm sure you could. It is completely indefensible - assume the implicit assumption that there is an actual bias demonstrated - it seems highly likely that there is an implicit bias - assuming the implicit assumption that conservative sites accross unrelated topics are banned while progressive ones are not.

We have -initial- evidence that a bias is present. It is certainly possible that an actual study, rather than one kid's anecdotal searches, will show a different set of facts are true.
quote:
You're letting your presuppositions force you into these ridiculous absolute statements, which produce all kinds of cognitive error. Before you emotionally commit to outrage, stop and wonder whether maybe you're not thinking about it enough.
The only thing I find outrageous are your attempts to discredit rather than argue. My opinion here, as in the other thread, is based on current facts in evidence, not on facts that may appear later or the wishfull thinking you favor.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
On the other hand, I find completely believable that Planned Parenthood would be available to high school students, even if the "other side" was not.
What do you consider the "other side" of medical facilities to be? Funeral homes?
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Seriati
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That's why it's in quotes Pyrtolin, the article implied it was one side of the abortion debate, when clearly it does more.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
My opinion here, as in the other thread, is based on current facts in evidence...
Except it's not.
We have evidence that a handful of sites are not being blocked by the school's content filter when sites that some people assert are analogous are not being blocked.

Looking at the available evidence in more detail, we ourselves have only a single specific scenario, once you accept that Planned Parenthood and the National Right to Life are not analogous. There's also the assertion that sites analogous to the NRA website are not being blocked, but we don't know what these sites are and thus cannot evaluate how analogous those scenarios are.

We know that content filters can discriminate based on Bayesian threshold text matches (so that an excessive number of swear words on a page, or a single instance of the word "sex" in a URL, might automatically block a site without any user intervention.) We know that the vendor supplies updated lists of "categorized" sites, and that the school can choose to allow access to categories. We also know that the school can manually whitelist a site upon request, and has done so in the past.

These are the things we know. This is literally ALL we know.

From this, you conclude:
1) This filtering is indefensible.
2) There is a consistent bias across multiple topics.
3) There's no legitimate way to explain that consistent bias.

I would assert that all three of those items assume "facts" not actually in evidence.

----------

To put this into perspective, what you're doing here is like hearing third-hand about a man found dead in an alley and saying, "There's only one explanation for this murderous stabbing!" When all you actually know so far is that a man was found dead in an alley.

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Seneca
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Except the superintendent has verified that the staff unblock sites regularly...

This isn't some software error or oversight, this is obviously human intervention. It will be interesting to see a statement from Dell confirming that yes, they most likely ship the software with all major political sites blocked but in this heavily Republican area, some zealous liberal teacher and or system admin has reshaped the firewall.

Also, this is one school but given the NEA's stranglehold on public education, this highlights the problems with giving a highly - political group control over the nation's children. Abuses like these are just more justification for more diversity and alternatives in our public school system like vouchers, chatter schools, etc.

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PSRT
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quote:
Except the superintendent has verified that the staff unblock sites regularly...
So? We have no timeframe on previous unblocks, we have no frequency count on how many sites the school unblocks, its almost certainly in the hands of the tech administrator who, in may and june is almost certainly flooded with more vital work to the functioning of the school district than unblocking a few sites(E.g. scheduling, report cards, populating the schedule with students, ensuring that technology is properly stored for summer custodial maintance of the buildings, etc).

Until you can answer a whole host of other questions about exactly what has happened here, you can't get to nefarious.

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PSRT
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quote:
Also, this is one school but given the NEA's stranglehold on public education, this highlights the problems with giving a highly - political group control over the nation's children. Abuses like these are just more justification for more diversity and alternatives in our public school system like vouchers, chatter schools, etc.
Can you explain to me why I should not believe that it is your dislike of the pro-public education policies and pro-workers policies that the NEA mostly fights for, that is leading you straight to nefarious while there is zero evidence for nefarious in play?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Except the superintendent has verified that the staff unblock sites regularly.
I think you may be leaning on the word "regularly" a bit too hard. It's probably closer to "as a matter of course."

Based on my own experience as a sysadmin in education -- at a college, where this kind of request is even more common -- I expect they probably got a request to unblock a site for educational purposes probably once or twice a month (with more coming in September and October), and granted those requests 90% or more of the time.

quote:
This isn't some software error or oversight, this is obviously human intervention.
No, it's not. To be "obviously human intervention," you would need to show that humans have been choosing not to unblock conservative sites but unblocking liberal ones.

[ June 20, 2014, 12:57 PM: Message edited by: TomDavidson ]

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by PSRT:
quote:
Also, this is one school but given the NEA's stranglehold on public education, this highlights the problems with giving a highly - political group control over the nation's children. Abuses like these are just more justification for more diversity and alternatives in our public school system like vouchers, chatter schools, etc.
Can you explain to me why I should not believe that it is your dislike of the pro-public education policies and pro-workers policies that the NEA mostly fights for, that is leading you straight to nefarious while there is zero evidence for nefarious in play?
Because I didn't say that and that would be a motive speculation?

How do you get there is zero evidence? Did you even read the article?

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TomDavidson
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Seneca, what people are very patiently trying to explain to you is that the article does not actually demonstrate the evidence you are insisting that it does.
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PSRT
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quote:
Because I didn't say that and that would be a motive speculation?
Motive speculation is an integral part of communication. Without it, nothing we say makes sense to anyone else.

Saying that you are posting X because you believe Y is against the rules of the forum.

Believing you are posting X because you believe Y is not.

I am asking why I shouldn't hold the belief that you see nefarious intent because you dislike the policies the NEA advocates for, and this has to do with schools, since you brought up the NEA twice, including in the opening post, and as you have yet to show any evidence of nefarious intent.

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Jack Squat
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
[QUOTE]What doesn't make sense is why would the local republican site and not the local democratic site not be blocked. It is possible that it is a hosting issue - that is if one site is hosted with a high traffic site (ie the GOP site is part of the main GOP hub) and the other is a small independent site, then the first would have enough traffic to go in the political category, whereas the second would not have enough traffic to be classified. Similar for the islamic site, etc.

Let me quote the article for you in case you missed it.
quote:
the Connecticut Republican Party website was blocked. The Connecticut Democratic Party website was not blocked.

Let me quote you LR's reply in case you missed it:
quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
What doesn't make sense is why would the local republican site and not the local democratic site not be blocked. It is possible that it is a hosting issue - that is if one site is hosted with a high traffic site (ie the GOP site is part of the main GOP hub) and the other is a small independent site, then the first would have enough traffic to go in the political category, whereas the second would not have enough traffic to be classified. Similar for the islamic site, etc.

The software does has custom whitelisting and blacklisting so it is possible that someone doing deliberate blocking based on politics but it is also possible that it is just a poor design issue for the filtering software. Would be interesting if we could find someone who has a trial of the software and see what it does/doesn't block.


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Jack Squat
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Seneca, what people are very patiently trying to explain to you is that the article does not actually demonstrate the evidence you are insisting that it does.

Do you not think that it's a problem that a state school library would censor NRA and pro-2nd Amendment websites but allow pro-gun control websites?
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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by Jack Squat:
quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
[QUOTE]What doesn't make sense is why would the local republican site and not the local democratic site not be blocked. It is possible that it is a hosting issue - that is if one site is hosted with a high traffic site (ie the GOP site is part of the main GOP hub) and the other is a small independent site, then the first would have enough traffic to go in the political category, whereas the second would not have enough traffic to be classified. Similar for the islamic site, etc.

Let me quote the article for you in case you missed it.
quote:
the Connecticut Republican Party website was blocked. The Connecticut Democratic Party website was not blocked.

Let me quote you LR's reply in case you missed it:
quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
What doesn't make sense is why would the local republican site and not the local democratic site not be blocked. It is possible that it is a hosting issue - that is if one site is hosted with a high traffic site (ie the GOP site is part of the main GOP hub) and the other is a small independent site, then the first would have enough traffic to go in the political category, whereas the second would not have enough traffic to be classified. Similar for the islamic site, etc.

The software does has custom whitelisting and blacklisting so it is possible that someone doing deliberate blocking based on politics but it is also possible that it is just a poor design issue for the filtering software. Would be interesting if we could find someone who has a trial of the software and see what it does/doesn't block.


Did you miss where I specifically responded that it wasn't obscure local or municipal party websites, they were the main STATE websites, and also showed that the sites were independent of others and on a level of parity with each other?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Do you not think that it's a problem that a state school library would censor NRA and pro-2nd Amendment websites but allow pro-gun control websites?
Not necessarily. Let's break down the possibilities:

1) The NRA and certain prominent pro-gun sites are in a Dell-curated "guns" category that is blocked. For some reason, these unnamed gun control sites are not in that category.

2) Both the pro-gun and anti-gun sites were blocked, and up until recently users had only requested that specific gun control sites be unblocked.

3) Both pro-gun and anti-gun sites were blocked, and both types were asked to be unblocked, but someone made the decision to keep the pro-gun sites blocked.

4) There is something else on the sites in question that is tripping the Bayesian content filter. Perhaps the sites that are blocked also have forums which contain bad language or other banned terms, whereas the ones that are not blocked do not.

5) The NRA and certain other pro-gun sites were specifically blocked at someone's request.

Of these five possibilities, only #3 and #5 -- the least likely of them, it must be said -- seem problematic to me. #1 might be problematic, depending on how those gun-control sites are ultimately categorized.

========

Seneca, for what it's worth, your cut-and-paste of their WHOIS record did not actually demonstrate that a) the sites were independent of others; and b) on a level of parity.

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Hannibal
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In all honesty... @Seneca, I don't get why are you so up in flames about it.

This is high school, of course they can and they should block web sites. It't not like a student can't use a personal internet account to access these sites.

If I were a parent, I would not want my children to read and access gun promoting content.

I don't see an equality between pro/anti gun in that sense.

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Seneca
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quote:
Originally posted by Hannibal:
In all honesty... @Seneca, I don't get why are you so up in flames about it.

This is high school, of course they can and they should block web sites. It't not like a student can't use a personal internet account to access these sites.

If I were a parent, I would not want my children to read and access gun promoting content.

I don't see an equality between pro/anti gun in that sense.

It has a lot to do with how our public school system is largely failing, and the government is truing to stick more and more of its nose into it while rejecting attempts to have competition.
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Hannibal
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I disagree.

Children don't have the same "free speech" and "freedom" rights as adults. They live in a supervised environment.

Schools should teach children Math, Physics, computer science, history and how to be productive/responsible in their future lives.

You want to teach your children to shoot guns? do it yourself as a responsible adult, or send them to the Army.

Thats my opinion

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TomDavidson
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quote:
It has a lot to do with how our public school system is largely failing, and the government is truing to stick more and more of its nose into it...
*sigh* When all you have is a hammer...
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Mynnion
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Seneca- For the sake of argument. Lets assume that these sites were blocked on purpose. It is certainly possible that an individual used his/her position to block them. What would it indicate? A vast conspiracy by the NEA or an employee that wanted to grind his/her political axe. If this issue was prevalent we would being hearing about it occurring all over rather than in a single school. With the massive number of schools I would actually be surprised if this kind of thing did occur occasionally. I would also be surprised if there were not as many if not more schools blocking sites with "LIBERAL" agendas.

That being said. There is yet no proof that anything untoward occurred in this instance. You need to relax and stop rushing to judgement until all the facts are in.

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