Does your Internet filtering make the grade?

15 Oct 2019 Angela Munoz Aroca

Since 2016, UK Safer Internet Centre has published definitions of ‘appropriate filtering’ for UK schools. Test Filtering is a brand-new utility created by SWGfL (one of three partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre), designed to build on these definitions and test the quality and compliance of your school’s filtering lists.

Whether you’re in a primary school or a secondary, a college or an alternative provision, filtering is one of the first lines of defence you should have in place to help prevent inappropriate content from reaching your students.

Before we get into it, let’s make sure we have explained one important distinction.

What’s the difference between filtering and monitoring?

A monitoring solution sits on top of the whole network and watches for concerning words and phrases, alerting you if they are used.

On the other hand, filtering blocks access to content containing predetermined words and phrases or even entire websites.

Now that we’ve clarified that, let’s get into the details of Test Filtering.

Why is filtering important?

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s a legal requirement. English and Welsh schools are required “to ensure children are safe from terrorist and extremist material when accessing the internet in school, including by establishing appropriate levels of filtering”.

For schools in England, the Department for Education’s statutory guidance – Keeping Children Safe in Education – states that “children should not be able to access harmful or inappropriate material from the school or college’s IT system”, but that “unreasonable restrictions” should not be imposed “as to what children can be taught with regards to online teaching and safeguarding.”

It’s a tricky line to walk, but it’s imperative you take certain steps with what you are filtering.

What does Test Filtering check for?

Test Filtering is a simple utility that checks to see if your filtering solution incorporates blocks to illegal online content, specifically:

  • Child Sexual Abuse Content
  • Unlawful terrorist content

These lists are provided by two of the leading organisations in the removal of illegal content from the internet.

IWF is a not-for-profit organisation that works internationally to remove child sexual abuse content from the internet. Each week, IWF assesses and removes “more than 1,000 webpages… Each webpage may contain thousands of images.” IWF is one of three partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre, along with SWGfL and Childnet.

In 2010, HMG set up the police Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU), which has secured the removal of over 310,000 pieces of terrorist content from the internet. Now is the time to act.

Using Test Filtering couldn’t be easier. All you need to do is:

It really is that simple!

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