Thursday, October 23, 2008

The New Internet Filter I'm Using

I'm hesitant to write about this Internet web filter until I feel like I can really get to know it and fully see how it works. But we just took the big plunge and bought and subscribed to an Internet filter called Kleen Web, from a frum Internet filtering company. I'd heard about it before, but a recent article in Jewish Action Magazine that I read by Yitzchok Adlerstein, a frequent contributor at Cross-Currents, renewed my interest in giving this another try.

There are several free options for cleaning up your Internet service but none of them really worked for me. I have tried one called K-9 Internet Protection, a free web filter. It prevented my computer from working properly and I couldn't get it working again until I uninstalled it. Furthermore, it was too easy to uninstall, which makes it less than safe for the kids anyway, who could more easily get around it. And I've also tried a program called x3watch, an Internet buddy program. X3watch is supposed to monitor the sites you visit and send a list of the questionable ones to your internet buddy, which would encourage self-monitoring of the sites one visits. #1, it doesn't really prevent kids from seeing things they shouldn't. And anyway, it never worked properly, even when I paid for customer support and my "Internet buddy" never reliably received the e-mails with possible "questionable" sites that were visited on my computer.

I therefore came to the conclusion that, at least for now, I had to bite the bullet and pay a little something to keep myself, and my children safe from the horrible things on the Internet.

So far, my computers seem to function properly on Kleen Web and it has a few advantages. #1, it's very flexible. I'm even able to run this blog with all of it's image, video and blog searches without too much of a problem. I'm able to set it to allow certain computers to access and the like.

Another good thing about it is that certain things that would be universally considered inappropriate are never allowable and it causes the Google "safe serach" option to always be on. Also, it will sometimes selectively not display videos or pictures that are embedded in other sites if the source site for that picture/video is not allowed. For instance, it will not display a YouTube video that's embedded on my blog, even though it will display everything else, unless you have set it to allow YouTube on that computer.

One other advantage that makes it good is that it cannot be uninstalled from any computer that it's installed onto, unless you call in to their offices and give them certain security information over the phone. This adds another layer of protection so that kids or anyone without the security information can't remove the program. We've also taken the additional step of having passwords placed on all of our computers so that after five minutes of inactivity, you have to retyple the password to get onto the computer.

Also, if it's on a laptop, you're protected everywhere. Since the filter is not server-side, but right there on the computer, if you go to some other wireless network at some other location, the filter is still there.

My plan is that once I've set things up the way I need them, I'll have my wife change the administrator's password to something that I won't know about, which will protect me, in fulfillment of what Chazal say in Kesubos 13b that "אין אפוטרופוס לעריות," no one can trust himself when it comes to illicit matters.

Like I said before, it's very early on. We've only had the program for about 2 weeks now on our computers. But our oldest child is already nine and a half years old. And our three year old son is already getting proficent in how to use a computer. From our school's understandable perspective, they would prefer that families not have Internet in their homes at all. However, as that is not shiach for us due to my wife and my work, some solution is very very necessary to prevent a takala, a calamity in our home if our kids gain access or are exposed to some of the intensely bad stuff out there.

IY"H, I'll keep you posted on how it's going. But I am writing this to once again, make sure that this issue is front and center and hopefully others will take whatever steps they can to protect themselves and their children.

Feel free to contact me or comment with your experiences with any of these options or with any help or about any problems you are having with KleenWeb.

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of KleenWeb)

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Alice said...

Smart! The internet is like a terrible shopping mall with a few good stores, like this one. : )

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

True. And thank you!

-Dixie Yid

Yirmiahu said...

Hey, I was going to write his post!


Anonymous said...

Kul Hakuvod!

Anonymous said...

X3watch can be pretty defective. Covenant Eyes (name based on Job 31:1) is accountability software that really does the job well. Plus, they also have a filter if you want that too.