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The Internet Censorship Your Rights Online

A Parent's Guide To Linux Web Filtering 529

Roblimo writes "Not all parents want their children exposed to everything on the Internet, especially porn. So far, virtually all home-level Net filtering software has been for Windows. This tutorial on NewsForge, by Joe Bolin, shows Linux-using parents how to set up Web filtering for *their* children -- and shows them how to customize filters to fit their own tastes and beliefs instead of relying on a commercial software company's ideas of 'good' and 'bad,' too."
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A Parent's Guide To Linux Web Filtering

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  • Excellent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ReverendHoss ( 677044 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:31PM (#9583455)
    The easier and more accurate it is for parents to filter content for their own children, based on their own values, the less likely it is for them to scream for the government to do it for them.
    • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Insightful)

      by e9th ( 652576 ) <<moc.xedoput> <ta> <ht9e>> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:39PM (#9583568)
      Well, that sounds good, but I'm pessimistic. The same parents who bitch about our educational system but who won't sit down with their kids and discuss what Johnny learned in school today will continue to scream and scream loudly.

      "Why should I protect my children. That's what I pay taxes for!"

      • Re:Excellent (Score:3, Insightful)

        Well, that sounds good, but I'm pessimistic. The same parents who bitch about our educational system but who won't sit down with their kids and discuss what Johnny learned in school today will continue to scream and scream loudly.

        That's a different problem, which this solution doesn't attempt to address. This gives proactive parents another tool, which is a good thing.

      • Re:Excellent (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gillbates ( 106458 )

        Well, given that neither paying taxes nor sending your children are optional activities, I'd say your argument doesn't apply.

        But there's something insidious about someone taking money from you (via taxes), and then using that money to undermine your parenting. Those who view children as a nuisance and the school district as a babysitter could care less what happens there. It is the parents who are actually being parents who take greatest offense at their own taxes being used to undermine their parenti

        • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Insightful)

          by swv3752 ( 187722 ) <swv3752NO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:40PM (#9584285) Homepage Journal
          Home schooling and and private schooling are always options. Taxes pay for more than just schools and it is good that you should be responsible for more than just your own children. And as a society, we do have the right to tell you how to raise your children. It is not just the family that raises the children, but the whole village.

          Besides, it is more likely the parents undermining the schoold system. Parents come in bitching about little Sally getting an F even though she did no work. If parents backed up schools, then we would have better kids in society. Instead, we have parents teaching kids not to respect authority.

          There is a time to question authority, but that time is not when you should be learning to read and write.
          • Re:Excellent (Score:3, Insightful)

            Home schooling and and private schooling are always options. Taxes pay for more than just schools and it is good that you should be responsible for more than just your own children. And as a society, we do have the right to tell you how to raise your children. It is not just the family that raises the children, but the whole village.

            <pa feedback>

            Testing, testing. This thing on? Uhmm, fuck the village. Thank you.

            </pa feedback>

            Besides, it is more likely the parents undermining t

            • Re:Excellent (Score:3, Insightful)

              by swv3752 ( 187722 )
              When a kid is in fifth grade, that is not the time to be questioning authority. Questioning authority at that age is just being disrepectful to your elders.

              Teachers can not actually teach, they can only present material. If the kids do not want to learn, then they will not. Your attitude teaches your child to be a selfish prick that needs to be spoon fed. Have you actually taught in a classroom setting in the last decade? I have.

              Kids need to respect thier teachers. Kids need to do the work. And par
              • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Interesting)

                by v01d ( 122215 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @02:48PM (#9585081) Homepage
                When a kid is in fifth grade, that is not the time to be questioning authority. Questioning authority at that age is just being disrepectful to your elders.

                Respect is earned. If my daughters's teacher is a complete idiot, I will tell them so.

                My sister's third grade teacher told the class that red headed children aren't as smart. If you silently accept that from a teacher you are a pathetic excuse for a parent, and are doing a disservice to your child.

                Kids need to respect thier teachers.

                Teachers need to earn that respect. I have rarely seen a respectable teacher not get the respect they deserve.
          • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Interesting)

            by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @02:34PM (#9584914) Homepage Journal

            And as a society, we do have the right to tell you how to raise your children. It is not just the family that raises the children, but the whole village.

            Ummmmm. No.

            We have the responsibility to protect your children from you, if necessary, the same way we have the responsibility to protect anyone else who needs it. We do not have the right, nor the responsibility, nor, for most of us, the inclination to tell you how to raise your children.

            An excellent example of that is the recent decision that government can not, in fact, meddle in the affairs of parents who send their children to juvenile nudist camps. Of course, if they were sending them off to brothels, that would be a different story, and we would be obliged to step in and stop them because it would, in theory, be possible to show that such action is harmful.

            The idea that I have either the right or the implied responsibility to assist other people in raising their children without an explicit request to do so is ridiculous.

          • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

            by japhmi ( 225606 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @03:10PM (#9585342)
            And as a society, we do have the right to tell you how to raise your children.

            No, you don't. As long as a parent isn't harming their child, they have the innate right to raise him or her as they see fit.

            If that child doesn't live up to the societies standards, than society has to take it up with the parents - it's their right and responsibility.

            Parents come in bitching about little Sally getting an F even though she did no work. If parents backed up schools, then we would have better kids in society.

            If the schools backed the parents up in return, then it'd be great. If I were a teacher, and a parent came in asking why Little Sally got an F, I'd point out the requirements for each grade level - and show how Sally did not meet them. (Then again, I'd have the policy that one of my teachers had explicit - if you turn in every assignment, and they're all complete, you will pass the class.)

            My kids - they're being homeschooled. 1st, my wife and I feel that it's best for my family. 2nd, we can't give them the kind of education we want for them in school.
        • Re:Excellent (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I don't tell you how to raise your children; why do you think you have the right to tell me how to raise mine?

          Well, your kids have a few rights, like the right to a decent education, to not be neglected etc. If you're going to provide a decent balanced educational program for your kids, that's fine. The state should satisfy itself that you are doing so in the same way that it satisfies itself that your kids aren't neglected, or that you don't beat your wife - ie. it does nothing unless someone complains.
      • Helicopter parents (Score:5, Interesting)

        by FerretFrottage ( 714136 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:36PM (#9584231)
        My wife (OMG, ./er who is married) calls these parents "Helicopter Parents" because they just hover over their kids, but as soon as there is an incident with regards to the child and the school and/or teacher, they immediately fly on in assuming that they (the school/teacher) are the cause of the "accident". It's sad when my wife is surprised that the parent(s) supports the teacher's or school's position. She actually got offered $5k by a parent to pass her child so that they could get the kid out of the house (this was in the affluent Plano west high school). She turned it down which is probably why she's a teacher and I'm not...I'd take the $5k and still fail the dumba$$
      • The same parents who bitch about our educational system but who won't sit down with their kids and discuss what Johnny learned in school today will continue to scream and scream loudly.

        Well and good, parents should indeed keep tabs on what their kids are told in school or see on TV or internet and help them interpret it.

        That said, I can see parents getting annoyed when they have to fight a constant rear-guard action against smut, violence, and what-have-you everywhere. Despite what your parents tell

    • Heck yeah, but it's getting much harder. Knoppix screwed my ability to filter at the computer. My neighbors' open wireless access points are in the process of screwing my ability to filter at the pipe. It looks like the only sure fire way left to filter is at the kid.

      TW
    • Re:Excellent (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stienman ( 51024 ) <adavisNO@SPAMubasics.com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:49PM (#9583692) Homepage Journal
      Actually I doubt this will make much of a difference at all.

      Even if they are always around to protect their kids parents still demand that 'public' places be free of anything that could harm their children. The internet is often seen as a public place. Unless the 'magazine racks' are covered and the 'bars' are closed to anyone under a certian age they will feel that the government should step in an ensure that these steps are taken. This doesn't even touch problems with identity, stalking, etc.

      This is not a terrible thing. It is a new responsibility that parents have had to adjust to in the last decade. Any reasonable step that can be enacted with little cost that does not prevent another's right to use the internet should be enacted.

      The 'internet' is still in a state of tremendous change. There is no way that a reasonable response can be created that will stand the test of time. Any response now will fall far short of the ideal. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, though. As we develop new techniques to match the internet's development we'll learn valuable lessens.

      It's not much different than spam. Techniques come, are honed, changed, and then go. We all expect (and know) that eventually the tide will turn and spam will be managed effectively. Similarily, we all know and expect that certian regulations will be set in place that will make it difficult for minors to open themselves to crimes of opportunity or exposure to things which the law currently says should be restricted to adults (or to minors only under adult supervision).

      This article is good for the tech savvy parent, but it certianly will not affect the majority opinion.

      -Adam
      • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Safety Cap ( 253500 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:18PM (#9584034) Homepage Journal
        Even if they are always around to protect their kids parents still demand that 'public' places be free of anything that could harm their children.
        This is exactly why they will end up with weak offspring that will be killed in the first round of purges.

        Pediatricians usually recommend one have furry pets and send one's kids to day care, pre-school so the little tykes actually get sick and build up their immune system. The offspring of the parents who use those "antibacterial" wipes and soaps are the ones who will die in the first wave of plagues.

        This brings us to environment. Only by exposing one's kids to life in the real world (of which, Teletubbies and Barney are only a small part), can those kids grow up strong and able to deal with life outside the Master Planned Community, lest they be killed in the waves of immigrations that overrun the MPCs.

        • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Insightful)

          by stienman ( 51024 ) <adavisNO@SPAMubasics.com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @02:00PM (#9584482) Homepage Journal
          You have a very interesting style of discussing a very common belief. I'm assume you are not using particular language to offend - perhaps this is how you really talk about this subject.

          There is some good in the idea that one should expose children to many variants of disease and illness to build a healthy immune system while they are young and physically able to handle the ravages of such bacteria and virus.

          But that doesn't prove your point.

          Subjecting a child's body to alcohol, nicotine, polio, etc is provably detrimental to their physical health. To say that there are no mental or emotional equivilants to these compounds is to dismiss decades and centuries of behavioral studies and observation.

          "The beginning of a habit is like an invisible thread, but every time we repeat the act we strengthen the strand, add to it another filament, until it becomes a great cable and binds us irrevocably in thought and act." -Orison Swett Marden

          While you and I may disagree on what specific emotional and intellectual activites are worth restricting to adults I suspect you may agree that there are such limits you wouldn't want your children to pass. I could come up with a million hypotheticals, and many (many!) actual examples - but I'm sure you are equally imaginative.

          -Adam
        • Re:Excellent (Score:4, Insightful)

          by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) * on Thursday July 01, 2004 @02:41PM (#9584999) Journal

          This brings us to environment. Only by exposing one's kids to life in the real world ... can those kids grow up strong and able to deal with life outside the Master Planned Community, lest they be killed in the waves of immigrations that overrun the MPCs

          I only wish to add a little something to this, which is that children will not so much learn purely from exposure, but from watching their parents deal with the exposure. I guess most of what we're talking about with filtering is naked people. Well, a child seeing nudity may or may not learn anything, but watching whether his father pervs, looks away or just accepts will surely guide his future behaviour.

  • by Kjuib ( 584451 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:31PM (#9583456) Homepage Journal
    A nice how-to. This could be fun in the hands of kids to filter their parents Internet to only include toys and cartoons and... uhm... slashdot...
  • Why Censor? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Really, is only naked women or men. In Mozilla Firebird, I have setted it to "Block images from goat.cx" (not visit!) and if my kids pictures of naked people find, fine. I did as child. I run linux but don't need this.

    As friend said "You Americans are so puritanical!"
    • by Anonymous Coward
      1. if my kids pictures of naked people find, fine. I did as child.

      2. I run linux...

      Q.E.D.

    • Re:Why Censor? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eln ( 21727 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:35PM (#9583519) Homepage
      Man, if you think the only things that you can find on the Internet are naked people and goatse, you must have been on the Internet for all of about 8 seconds.

      Parents need to protect their kids from extreme pornography, highly graphic images (like rotten.com and the like), and websites that foster extreme viewpoints and hate speech, like the Aryan Nations. These things can have a much more profound impact on a child's immature mind than it would on a mature and rational adult's mind.

      What your personal threshold for your family is as to how extreme content has to be before you feel the need to protect your kids from it is dependent entirely on your own belief system. This is why systems that allow the parents to decide criteria, rather than depending on things like Net Nanny, is so attractive.
      • Re:Why Censor? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <slashdot@jawthes[ ]k.com ['har' in gap]> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:55PM (#9583754) Homepage Journal
        I'm not a parent... So take everything I say with a grain of salt.

        I have been on the internet for 10 years. Back then I was 17, which means I was not really a child. However one thing I learned quite quickly is that you have to search for porn/hatespeech/$fill_in_gross_stuff. Yes, I know rotten.com and I have visited it. Stuff there was quite a curiosity the first time I saw it.

        Now, 10 years ago there was a child in this house. My sister. She was 12 back then. I did not once see anything questionable on her screen, nor in her browser cache (I used to monitor her stuff as a worried brother, my parents couldn't have done it) This means: if your kids go and visit those sites they have searched for it, or got the link from a friend. In the latter case you can be pretty sure they that they would have gotten the information anyways. I mean: how hard is it to go over to your friends place and ask him/her to show the site that you couldn't visit at home.

        So, if I'm ever a parent, I'll just make sure to monitor what my kids do and not block their access. If I catch them doing something I can't condone then it'll just be time for a little chat.

      • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:55PM (#9583757) Homepage
        I grew up in a farming community. Around farms. Farms with stupid people and dangerous machinery on them. Trust me, I saw far more horrible things than rotten.com nearly every week.


        I honestly don't see what the problem is. Although my world view has changed somewhat over the years, I don't *think* I react that differently to things now as to how I reacted when I was, say, 12 years old.

    • Re:Why Censor? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dtrent ( 448055 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:41PM (#9583582)
      Really, is only naked women or men. In Mozilla Firebird, I have setted it to "Block images from goat.cx" (not visit!) and if my kids pictures of naked people find, fine. I did as child. I run linux but don't need this.

      Well, there's naked people, and then there's porn. Personally I'm more worried about sites like bangbus which come 1/2 inch from condoning rape. I don't want my son treating women like that, and I don't want my daughter being treated like that, clothes on or off.

      As friend said "You Americans are so puritanical!"

      And that is just insulting. How do you resolve the above stereotype with the fact that most the porn *origninates* in the States? I suppose you think each and every German wears liederhosen too?
      • I only own single pair. Have been carried twice since bought them, when drunken at Oktoberfest in München in 2000 and 2001.
      • Re:Why Censor? (Score:3, Insightful)

        I think the big issue that when some my age (late 20's) sees a site like bangbus, they see it for what it is.

        It's a fantasy site. Centered around the idea "What if your driving down the road and you drive by a hot woman and for 500 bucks she does anything you want."

        We adults see it for the fantasy it is and nothing more.

        The problem is that when a minor sees something like that, they're not going to see the fantasy aspect of it. Their going to see it as an acceptable way to treat a women. Then people w
    • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:44PM (#9583616)
      Go to Google and type in a bunch of keywords which would represent the most disgusting and/or disturbing idea you can think of. You'll get hits. With pictures.

      Then go looking for news articles about kids being lured to their death by people in chat rooms, etc. You'll find plenty.

      You need to monitor what your kids are doing on the net. The children aren't responsible for their actions, You are.

      • Then go looking for news articles about kids being lured to their death by people in chat rooms, etc. You'll find plenty.

        Then go looking for news articles about people dying in freak accidents, like being struck by lightning. You'll find plenty.

        Doesn't mean you should avoid the outdoors, or cower in the basement every time you hear thunder.
  • Nice one! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Grell ( 9450 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:31PM (#9583465) Homepage
    This could really help push Linux for schools and libraries. (who don't need the extra expense of the "secure" kiosk's their paying for now.)

    ~G
    • Re:Nice one! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by crackshoe ( 751995 )
      i've found schools prefer to have the blocking at the isp level, so a kid with a laptop and a wireless card still can't pull up porn (or instant messenger). i've also seen schools block such things as babelfish, which is genuinely useful to 9/10's of the school, but the spanish teachers are too fucking lazy to actually teach, so they just put kinds into the lab where, suprise suprise, they'd use babelfish. and most librarians i know ( and i know several at public and university libraries) are about as anti
      • Re:Nice one! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DrEldarion ( 114072 )
        Actually, there's a better reason for them to block babelfish - it can be used to get around the filters. Page blocked? Just translate it through babelfish - hot hot proxy action.
  • Good News (Score:2, Insightful)

    by arieswind ( 789699 ) *
    Well, this is good news for linux parents, and hopefully it will set a precedent for either, more people moving off of windows, or developers of filtering software for windows to make their products more easily customizable to what parents think their kids should not see, instead of what the company thinks their kids should not see
  • by mobiux ( 118006 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:32PM (#9583470)
    So there are what, 4 people using linux at home that also have intimate enough relationships to actually produce offspring
  • by z0ink ( 572154 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:32PM (#9583471)
    Make sure you add /. to that filter if you ever want your kids to grow up to be productive human beings. Otherwise they'll be just like the rest of us, lurking around until the next item is posted. I've got some work to go not do now ...
  • Bumper Car for OS X (Score:5, Informative)

    by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:32PM (#9583473) Homepage
    Those fun-loving shareware dudes and dames over at Freeverse [freeverse.com] have a customizable browser for kids, aptly named BumperCar [freeverse.com]. Don't know much about it, but I happened to see it on a browsing jag yesterday, and thought I'd mention it here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:32PM (#9583477)
    I thought we were mostly in agreement here. Consorware is bad. [slashdot.org] Filters don't work.

    Why is it that censorware suddenly becomes good when it's implemented by an open source program?
    • by eln ( 21727 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:42PM (#9583595) Homepage
      I don't know that most people really object to censorware as a concept to protect kids. What people object to is installing censorware in public, government-funded institutions like libraries where non-children can be affected by them, thus limiting constitutional rights.

      Other people using these things in their own home is none of your business, and if you make it your business, you're the one violating people's rights.
    • Perhaps because the censoring criteria is being done in a knowlegable way by a parent, not by a corporation that may have it's own reason for censoring certain material. What happens when the RIAA has a little chat with the censoring software companies and the censoring companies decide that children shouldn't see something negative about the RIAA?
    • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <ardrake79&gmail,com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:49PM (#9583698) Homepage
      I thought we were mostly in agreement here. Parenting is good.

      Putting limits on material they want their children exposed to is a HUGE part of parenting. So why do you oppose software intended to let parents do just that?

  • Well.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by tekiegreg ( 674773 ) * <tekieg1-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:32PM (#9583478) Homepage Journal
    Granted all the software is released under GPL and source code included, all it would take is for the kid to either A) Learn a little C++ (or whatever language this software is coded in) to make the software worthless or B) Start hunting for a patch that someone else was nice enough to build. Though if your kid can learn C++ I presume he's probably mature enough to view anything he wants and parents should stay back. However full censorship in Linux,IMHO because of the nature of open source is just next to impossible. As it should be though :-)
  • Refreshing (Score:2, Interesting)

    Its nice to see that Linux is really emerging as a Windows alternative for the whole family.
    Also, it should give the kids a nice challenge to get around the blockers... ;-)

    If at first you don't friccasse, fry fry a hen
  • by soft_guy ( 534437 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:33PM (#9583487)
    This is better than letting some company configure it for you. A lot of the companies that make filtering software don't even allow you to know what their critiera is for blocking a site.

    On the other hand, I tend to think that when my daughter becomes interested enough in sex to seek out these kinds of pages, that maybe it is better that she be able to.

  • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <ardrake79&gmail,com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:33PM (#9583490) Homepage
    "The only software you need to set up parental filters under GNU/Linux is iptables, Dan's Guardian, and Squid."

    That's two too many, as far as the target audience is concerned. I'm no GNU/Linux programmer or anything, but what's stopping people from putting that all in one single installer?

    I'll admit I didn't read on to see (God forbid) what other numerous (supposedly "easy") hoops that parents would have to jump through to get the desired result. Not that it matters; they'd probably already lost most of their target audience.

    • by goldspider ( 445116 ) <ardrake79&gmail,com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:42PM (#9583600) Homepage
      ...and it's even worse than I originally thought. If by some miracle that Average Parent User trudged through the installation of the three programs, there is NO WAY IN HELL that they are going to be competant enough (let alone willing) to configure them all without throwing their hands up in frustration.

      What "average" users do you know that would be comfortable with modifying .conf files and all that other crap that this forces them to do?

      Anyone who calls this process "easy" is completely out of touch with the average PC user.

    • by tsg ( 262138 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:48PM (#9583684)
      That's two too many, as far as the target audience is concerned.

      Netfilter is part of the linux kernel and doesn't require a separate installation. As for the other two, the entire unix philosophy is build small tools that do one thing well and connect them together. If someone doesn't like Squid, they can use another proxy server without ditching Dan's Guardian (or the other way around). It's called choice. It's a good thing.

      Not that it matters; they'd probably already lost most of their target audience.

      Their target audience is mostly parents who are already running Linux. The "hoops" (that you admit to not reading yet feel the need to criticize anyway) they have to go through are little different than configuring any other Linux app.
  • Complexity... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by burrows ( 112035 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:35PM (#9583511)
    I say just run the box in console mode, and if the kid can figure out how to configure X and open a browser, they are old enough for porn.

    Seriously, this is a little strange in it's scope. In the fourth paragraph, it defines for the reader what a "server" is, and then they expect the reader to be comfortable just jumping right in and editing the squid config. Seems like a little user-friendliness is probably needed before we can consider the parental filtering thing taken care of...
  • by tomRakewell ( 412572 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:35PM (#9583514)
    I have been developing an algorithm that scans images and can detect whether there is a nipple in the image. If this were incorporated into an http filter, you could get rid of porn and possibly notify parents when nipple-laden images were being downloaded.

    The only technical problem at present is that I can not discern between human nipples and animal nipples, so some images of cow udders and the like register false positives. Nevertheless, I think this is a very important algorithm.

    I have considered selling this to the Justice Department, as Atty General Ashcroft has expressed an interest in this kind of software. However, I feel this is too important to be closed. I am happy to say the project will be listed at Sourceforge soon, and released under the GPL!!!
    • Screw that, I want to use it to create the worlds largest archive of porn! Have it traveling across the net day and night looking for nipples!
    • [...]I can not discern between human nipples and animal nipples, so some images of cow udders and the like register false positives.

      Gee, I feel bad for you then. How horrible it must be to go through life not being able to tell if that naked chick has nipples or udders.... ;)

  • by Mz6 ( 741941 ) *
    This is wonderful... until they start asking where the Start button is. :)
  • by angst7 ( 62954 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:37PM (#9583530) Homepage
    So much is made about filtering content for children, presumably to prevent them from wandering upon unsuitable content. The fundamental flaw with this (techological limitations notwithstanding) is the notion that kids under the age of 13 or so should be left alone to browse the net.

    It seems to me that proper parenting requires an active participation with your kids, whether it be in watching TV, checking out books in a B&N, or spending time on the net. Simply throwing in a vchip, blocking channels or applying hole-ridden filters can never be a substitute for actively being entertained, lerning, etc. alongside your child.

    At least I think I read that somewhere...
  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:37PM (#9583536)
    I don't have any kids, but if I did, I wouldn't filter a thing. I would install squid [squid-cache.org], write a perl script to parse out the domain names and report to me a count of each domainname reached.

    I would tell the child that I had records of every site they visit, and step on them if they kept "making mistakes".
  • by gentlewizard ( 300741 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:38PM (#9583545)
    Putting filtering on Linux doesn't make it better. Filtering still:

    a) doesn't work. Kids who want pr0n will find it, or find a way to get around the filters; and
    b) creates and adversarial relationship between parent and child instead of a collaborative one.

    Having parents set up their own filters instead of trusting an outside organization to do it for them almost GUARANTEES that the filters will not be effective. Who has time to be comprehensive on content, given the rate at which new sites are created? The only alternative is to trust some organization that does have the resources to do a more comprehensive job, and even then will not be complete.

    The more serious issue is the loss of trust demonstrated by putting filtering software on the computer.
    • "b) creates and adversarial relationship between parent and child instead of a collaborative one."

      The assumption here, naturally, is that it is bad to have disagreements with your child. That's why kids these days are so fucked up: parents will do just about anything to remove conflicts from parenting.

    • by underpar ( 792569 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:03PM (#9583854) Homepage
      You are looking at this as though parents making mods or installing software are trying to prevent kids from looking at something they are actively searching for.

      The real reason we want this stuff is so the kids won't stumble on to something bad they had no intention of finding. The lack of trust being demonstrated is a lack of trust toward every jerk on the internet that doesn't care about my kid.

      That's my reason anyway. Does anyone here have kids?
  • Important step (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fiz Ocelot ( 642698 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {norahzleab}> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:38PM (#9583555)
    No matter what people say, how futile it is etc etc, it's an important step in getting Linux to be more common in the educational environment. A school or library needs to be able to say "we tried our best!" when it comes to these things. It helps linux get its foot in the door.
  • My opinion about Linux filtering software is unbiased, despite the fact that my first name is that of the author's.

    I've been using Dansguardian in the same way described in the article for a while now and it has worked great.
  • by Fooby ( 10436 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:43PM (#9583608)
    The article only tells how to install iptables, squid, and Dan's Guardian. It doesn't tell how to customize it to your own tastes or values. Here, in full, is all the article says about customizing the filter:
    While Dan's Guardian provides an excellent filter all by itself, you may want to exercise further control over the Web filtering by editing the other files in the /etc/dansguardian directory that contain external blacklists. Blacklists from squidGuard and URLBlacklist work perfectly with Dan's Guardian. Each file contains a brief explanation for its contents to make configuration easier.
    So what we have is a case of relying on "Dan's" ideas of good and bad, rather than a commercial company's. Not a huge improvement on the face of it if parents are just going to install an open-source tool rather than a commercial one. Better yet would be to educate the kids and monitor their behavior rather than trusting some blanket censorship tool, open-source or not.
  • Or you could (Score:2, Insightful)

    by akvalentine ( 560139 )
    Make sure that when they are very young, that you are with them any time that they are online.

    Then, when they are old enough to understand, you open the Internet wide open and log everywhere they go. Make sure that they know you are logging.

    Discuss with them what you think is inappropriate for them. If they visit sites that you don't approve of, talk to them about it.

    Don't get me wrong, I love cool technology, but technology isn't a valid substitute for parenting.
  • by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:47PM (#9583666) Homepage Journal
    While this might take care of keeping kids off a large number of porn sites, it still will allow kids through to sites with all pictures. Those can't be filtered by keyword.

    My personal belief is that kids under a certain age should NEVER be on the Internet without close supervision. As the kids get older, they should be given more freedom to explore by themselves, but monitoring software is still a good idea.

    A close friend of mine who's 18 and getting ready to go off to college still isn't allowed on the computer when her mom is at work during the day. The computer is password protected so the mom has to be around when they're on it. They just accept it and deal with it. She doesn't sit and watch over their shoulder now that they're older, but she's at least around and able to glance at the screen occasionally.
    • A close friend of mine who's 18 and getting ready to go off to college still isn't allowed on the computer when her mom is at work during the day.

      Wow. I truly am speechless...

      When I was 18 I had moved away from home and it had been my computer for 10 years. No one tells me what I can/can't do with my own computer, not then, not now. Of course this was before the net, we had to swap..."art"...by mailing floppys around the place.
  • by petabyte ( 238821 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:47PM (#9583673)
    Frankly, you're not going to beat sitting down with your kids and talking to them about where to go on the net and where not to. I mean this software helps but isn't that hard to get around. All the kid really has to do is boot the system with knoppix or root the box. Some people might laugh at that notion but think of what you would do at this age. Most linux people have that sort of "I want to do this just because I can" mentality. If that gene has passed on, you'll need a little more than iptables. :)

    When I was 10, my dad had a net-nanny type program on the machine allegedly to protect my younger brother. It timed internet access and cut you off after a certain period. So I opened up regedit and ripped the program out manually. Sure, the system was barely functional, the network connection didn't work at all and the machine needed to be reinstalled - but that nanny software never came back.
  • Oh Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mratitude ( 782540 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:50PM (#9583710) Journal
    Regarding all the "kids will hack it" and "watch your kids" content so far.

    The underlying issue is quite simple - Access to the Internet is the equivalent of allowing your kids to leave the yard without permission, not bothering to know where they are, who they're contacting or being contacted by and generally leaving them at the mercy of the big, bad world.

    So, establishing them on isolated segement NAT'd computers where every single 0 and 1 goes through a router that their parents manage or through a proxy service of the same circumstance isn't anything more complicated than insuring that Jack or Jane ask permission to leave the yard and to know where they're going and who they'll see when they do.

    With kids, you don't throw out the rules for sake of convenience or with the idea of being "progressive" about child rearing. The consequences are just too dire.
    • Re:Oh Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

      With kids, you don't throw out the rules for sake of convenience or with the idea of being "progressive" about child rearing. The consequences are just too dire.

      I'm not trying to slam, but what actually are the consequences of unfiltered net access? Realistically:

      1) If a kid is somehow communicating with a real sexual predator, wouldn't their behavior in the outside world show that some kind of problem needs to be addressed?

      2) Has anyone shown a solid correlation between childhood/adolescent pornograph
  • by nullspace ( 11532 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:57PM (#9583772)
    Has anyone applied a Bayesian filter to web content? This would be an interesting way to give the filter a set of initial conditions from which it could derive an ever-increasing better filtration of content based off the parent's initial criteria.

    If there is a pre-existing application, I would interested to know.
    • Well, for SpamAssassin, one is encouraged to gather at least one hundred spam messages to feed to the Bayesian filter so that it is adequately trained. In the complex world of pornography, one would have to collect, gosh, thousands of sites. What a great task!

      Well, I'm prepared to make the sacrifice and do the difficult work of visiting these highly erotic sites for information-gathering purposes. Does any parent group wish to provide funding for my brave endeavour?

  • by Thrakkerzog ( 7580 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @12:57PM (#9583775)
    Only use dialup. with a 14.4 modem.

    Porn will take too long to transmit. They will be browsing without images in no time!

  • by InvaderXimian ( 609659 ) <elvedin@o d s . org> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:05PM (#9583877)
    This whole article is a complete waste since we all know that people who use Linux cannot attract the opposite sex which therefore means that they won't ever be able to have children. Its in the GPL too, somewhere around the 30th line...

    "If you can comprehend the aforementioned statements and use this software, you will not get laid. Ever. I know this because I'm RMS and chicks dig bearded guys. I haven't been laid yet so you won't either."

    Still, we all know that chicks dig BSD instead.
  • by bl8n8r ( 649187 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:07PM (#9583905)
    What I've done in the past is setup linux boxes for people with all outgoing access closed - with a script, the user entered the address they want to connect to (disney.com). The script then logs this, and allows outgoing access to the sight. This way, there isn't a lot of pre-setup stuff to do. With everyone understanding the usage is logged, it keeps them honest. Mom and dad can checkout the log with a web browser. Submitting content took some work to get figured out.... Not a perfect system, just a little different.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:08PM (#9583923) Homepage Journal
    Why don't various culture magazines offer filtering proxies tuned to reflect their cultural values? Like a Web "Reader's Digest". Different magazines would draw lines differently around sex, violence, gender, and other sociopolitical issues. Their magazine editorial would fill that out, and let people make consistent decisions through these infomediaries.

    Of course this scheme doesn't thwart the porn-hungry mormon teenager, or the santablind pre-barmitzva. That's an NP-complete problem: a bad kid will just go to a friend's unfiltered web terminal. But I note the Slashdot oracle's fortune at the bottom-right of this posing page:

    It is a wise father that knows his own child. -- William Shakespeare, "The Merchant of Venice"
  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <ogre@gee k b iker.net> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:37PM (#9584246) Homepage Journal
    Being a little smarter than the average websurfer, I set up squid+squidGuard and set my daughter's computer up to go through the Linux box. She could easily bypass this if she had ever taken the time to learn the basics about computing, but she has never shown any interest when I have offered to teach her. Doesn't really matter, in the next week or two I will be reconfiguring the entire home network to force everyone through the Linux box and use a transparent proxy system.

    My proxy system enforces just a few basic rules:
    1. IE is not allowed. Never ever. I'm not taking any chances with my network's security.
    2. She loses internet access late at night. I got tired of telling her to shut down and go to bed every damn night, "just a few more minutes!" In her language a few more minutes == an hour.
    3. Warez, porn, and hate sites are blocked. I don't think she'll go porn surfing on purpose, but she's a little quick to go to links without thinking about it. She's also too willing to believe fringe and conspiracy theories, but I think that's very typical of teenagers.
    4. Music sharing programs are blocked. I told her to stop downloading pirated music as we couldn't afford an RIAA lawsuit, but she didn't listen to me, so now she can't even trade music when it's legal.

    I told her straight out, if you think a blocked site is legit, just tell me and I'll see about unblocking it. I have blocked a few fringe science, religion, and political web sites. When she refused to discuss the contents with me, I blocked the sites. I was perfectly willing to leave them unblocked, but only if she was willing to discuss them rationally with my wife or myself.
  • "Especially porn" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by niom ( 638987 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @01:47PM (#9584366)

    Not all parents want their children exposed to everything on the Internet, especially porn.

    I find it strange that porn is the only content to be avoided that is explicitly mentioned by the story submitter and many comments. There are lots of things in the Internet that would be way more disturbing for children than porn, such as very extreme violence. Until that kind of content can be filtered I wouldn't even start thinking about filtering porn.

  • by oneishy ( 669590 ) <jczebota&oneishy,com> on Thursday July 01, 2004 @02:08PM (#9584597) Homepage

    I have used dansguardian on ipcop [dageek.co.uk] for several different sites (schools, homes etc), and have been please by the relative ease of installing (as far as linux stuff goes) and the configuration options.

    I have used IPCOP [ipcop.org] v 1.2 and 1.3 w/o any problems. Sidenote :it runs well on an older pentium 133 box.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @02:39PM (#9584977) Homepage
    Porno spams seem to have distinctive color schemes. Who else uses large areas of saturated yellow? And where else do you see multiple animated GIFs larger than icon size?

    Oh yeah, here [hitentertainment.com]

  • Access Denied... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wodelltech ( 168047 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @03:18PM (#9585427)
    I've been using DansGaurdian for a year or so now (what's good for my kids is good for me, I figure...) Anyway, it blocked access to these very comments (see below). Irony.

    ACCESS HAS BEEN DENIED -

    Access to the page:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/07/01/ 15 48255&mode=thread&tid=126&tid=153&tid=95&tid=99&th reshold=2 ... has been denied for the following reason:

    Weighted phrase limit exceeded.
  • Another perspective (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 01, 2004 @04:39PM (#9586385)
    Most of the posters seem to be parents here, so I'll give another perspective - the childs. I'm nearly 17, and I've had fairly unrestricted access to the internet for, hmm, probably about 5 years and used it a little before then. I've read and seen things on the internet that could be grouped into pretty much every category conceivable, and guess what? It hasn't done me any harm at all. In fact, I'd agree with the people who say it prepares you for the real world that little bit more. I don't have urges to rip my ass cheeks apart, drive around in a bangbus, or hate black people. My parents set a few (fairly unrestrictive) rules about my internet usage, and as long as I behave in a reasonably acceptable way in general, they won't have any reason to look at internet usage or anything else.
  • by shoppa ( 464619 ) on Thursday July 01, 2004 @05:01PM (#9586575)
    My kids browse the web by telnetting to port 80 from my model 33 teletype. What am I supposed to be filtering out?

//GO.SYSIN DD *, DOODAH, DOODAH

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