Web content filtering

Content filtering is commonly used by organisations such as offices and schools to prevent computer users from viewing inappropriate web sites or content, or as a pre-emptive security measure to prevent access of known malware hosts. Schools that provide open access to the internet for students are obliged to have systems like this in place. The Computer Services Department organises the technicalities of the MGS web content filtering system, subscribing to content filtering software that effects all users.

The Head of Computer Services, Mr Millington, is able to manually fine tune the settings that the content filtering system enforces. Content filtering software is never ‘perfect’ and can make inappropriate blocking decisions. These are rare but when it does happen sometimes it can be corrected. Inappropriate sites that the content filtering software has missed need to be blocked, and sometimes academic sites may require unblocking. Far more students complain about others occupying PCs in order to play online computer games than complain that sites are inappropriately blocked.

The Internet is now so huge that it is very rare for a user not to be able to find academic information that the system is automatically blocking by simply searching using different terminology. Most of the time it is convenient just to wait a few hours and look at the site when at home, rather than requesting it be unblocked and looking at it successfully a few days later once access has been granted.

The vast overwhelming majority of sites that students object to being blocked are done so for good reason. In addition to sites that obviously lead to harm, schools block all sorts of non-academic sites that do no direct harm but reduce either the availablility of computers or the boadband bandwidth for all the other users – game, film, music and video sites for example. School broadband infrastructure is not designed for entertainment, amusement, or to enhance teenage social life – it is expensive and is provided for academic work.

Students and teachers can request that a particular website be unblocked or blocked by email from within MGS by selecting the appropriate link below. This will open Outlook and populate an email with a basic information format to assist the process. This request system is only designed to work when the user is physically on site at MGS, and so should not be attempted from elsewhere.

When a request is made the email text read, the site investigated and then a decision is made. Where the request is make by a student a decision may well only be made after discussion with either the relevant subject teacher or relevant head of department. A suitable reply will then be sent back. At busy times of the year this process can take a couple of days, so if someone needs quick access to a particular site that the system is blocking – it is often more appropriate to simply wait a few hours and view it at home!

When on site at MGS click the appropriate link below to open MS Outlook and provide the appropriate details:

Request to unblock a website Request to block a website
Last modified: Monday, 2 July 2018, 8:23 AM