December 19th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

BT FilterFor those that keep insisting “filters are smarter than they used to be…”

Among the sites TalkTalk blocked as “pornographic” was, an award-winning British sex education site, which receives more than a million visits each year.

TalkTalk also lists Edinburgh Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre website as “pornographic.”

The company also blocked a programme run by sex education experts, and taught to 81,000 American children, that has been in development for more than 20 years.

TalkTalk’s filter is endorsed by Mr Cameron but it failed to block 7% of the 68 pornographic websites tested by Newsnight.

Read the full article @ BBC News.

Posted in Politics & Law, Tech Tagged with: , , ,

July 23rd, 2013 by Michael Sauers

If you have trouble accessing a web page either because the website is blocked at your workplace, or because that page happens to be behind a paywall, there are a couple of undocumented Google proxy servers that may help you read that page.

When you access any page via one of these Google proxies, the content of that page gets downloaded on Google servers and then served to you. The lesser-known proxy, discussed later, will even allow you to download documents, videos and other web files that are otherwise blocked.

Google Proxy Demo

Read the full post and get the handy bookmarklets @

Posted in Tech Tagged with: , , ,

March 20th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

NYPL uses filters. Fine. I’m not going to have that argument. But it looks like they block “Peer-to-Peer File Sharing” as a category. Why? 

A spokesperson for the library confirmed to TorrentFreak that they use blocking software to restrict access to these websites. This is done to protect Internet users from seeing inappropriate or illegal content.

“In an effort to protect patrons from inappropriate content or malicious activity and comply with existing laws, NYPL uses filtering software to prevent access to identified websites that offer potentially illegal or malicious content, as well as those that may cause harm to Library technology,” TorrentFreak was told.

Sorry, but the way I read that last bit, in order to do that you should just pretty much block the Internet as a whole as any Web site could contain" “potentially illegal or malicious content”.

Read the full article @ TorrentFreak. (Unless you’re at the NYPL then you can as they’re blocked too.)

Posted in Libraries, Tech Tagged with: , , ,

March 7th, 2013 by Michael Sauers

Funny how the library lost this case…

Salem Library Director Glenda Wofford told Hunter the websites could only be unblocked if [the patron] had a legitimate reason to access them. The library director allegedly also said she had an “obligation” to call the “proper authorities” to report people who wanted to view blocked websites.

Read the whole story on

Posted in Libraries Tagged with: , ,

August 5th, 2011 by Michael Sauers

The Free Technology for Teachers blog has a great story about filters blocking social services at schools and recommendations for what to do about it. Here’s the setup:

Why Did Etisalat Block FlickrA few years ago I returned to school after the summer break to find that all of the sites (VoiceThread, Wikispaces, Blogger, Animoto, and others) that I had planned to use were blocked by our the new filter in place. Frustrated, I emailed the tech department asking for these sites to be unblocked. They replied by saying they’d "look into it" and get back to me. I waited. Then I waited again. Finally, I was told that if I could explain to them how and why I was going to use these sites they might unblock them if they didn’t violate CIPA regulations. Up to the tech office I went and sat down with two of the network administrator’s assistants to explain to them what VoiceThread did, what Wikispaces was, and how I was going to use them. As I was explaining what VoiceThread did one of the assistants said, "I think unblocking this would violate CIPA." I lost it. Here I was explaining myself to two people who not only had never taught in a classroom, had no background in education, and who clearly did not understand CIPA.

Posted in Internet Tagged with: , , ,

May 23rd, 2008 by Michael Sauers

Last week I was at the offices of Lincoln Public Schools to present on LibraryThing. During some free time in the lab I wanted to catch up with some online articles I’d been meaning to read. I fired up and started clicking on some recently bookmarked sites. One was titled 60 Photography Links You Can’t Live Without. Here’s what I was presented with:

No for me

Turns out any site, in this case the blog "Camera Porn" is blocked as being porn. Check the link, it’s not porn in the traditional vein. Good to know that these sites are vetted by real live people… Not! I’m guessing science students won’t be allowed to look at Space Porn or Astronomy Porn either.

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