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Unmasking the Digital Truth

Welcome to "Unmasking the Digital Truth!" *


Please check out and subscribe to the "Balanced Filtering in Schools" blog . Direct questions about this website to Wesley Fryer.



The English Wiktionary defines "obfuscate" as:

To make dark; overshadow, or To deliberately make more confusing in order to conceal the truth.

Wiktionary defines "unmask" as:

To remove a mask from someone, or To expose, or reveal the true character of someone.


Project Goals

The goal of this collaborative wiki is to "unmask the digital truth" with respect to the reasons some leaders today are overfiltering and overblocking web 2.0 sites in schools and libraries, and provide reasonable alternatives which support broader student and teacher access to these sites. A basic level of content filtering is required in the United States for schools and libraries receiving federal E-Rate funding, and the purpose of this project is NOT to argue against all forms of content filtering in all situations. In some cases, however, educational leaders are obfuscating the issues relating to content filtering and access to web 2.0 websites in schools. This wiki seeks to unmask those reasons to provide facts, options and alternatives for community leaders interested in promoting broader access to web 2.0 tools in schools.


Reasons, Facts and Options

Think of this wiki as a decision tree. When a school leader tells a teacher, librarian, or student "that website is blocked" (or more typically, the individual attempts to visit a website and is not permitted to access it by the organization's content filter) there are always REASONS why the site is blocked. These reasons can (hopefully) be organized into several categories. Select a category below to view information and options relating to it. If we're missing a category, please add it! (Some of these categories are specific to the United States, but the reasons underlying the categories may be more broadly applicable to international contexts as well.)


  1. CIPA - The Child's Internet Protection Act (mandates basic content filtering - U.S.)
  2. e-Discovery - Amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) requiring email archiving under some circumstances (U.S.)
  3. FERPA - The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (U.S.)
  4. COPPA - The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (U.S.)
  5. Bandwidth - Often a concern the school does not have enough to support a particular website/tool
  6. Control - Educational leaders sometimes want to limit potential user behavior
  7. Liability - Concern that website access will lead to lawsuits from and litigation with parents
  8. Fear - More generalized feelings that web 2.0 sites and technologies are bad / dangerous


Other Resources:

  1. The ALA Library Bill of Rights
  2. Outstanding "Internet Safety Training Programs & Policy/AUP" resources from the state of Washington (includes editable templates) 
  3. David Warlick's School AUP 2.0 resources 


Questions or Concerns?

This website / collaborative wiki was started by Wesley Fryer. Contact information for Wesley is available. Contributions are welcomed! Visitors can also add comments to individual pages to ask questions, make suggestions, or ask for clarifications. If you contribute anything, please add your name and links to the contributors page.


* Disclaimer and Copyright

The documents, links, and information contained on this wiki / website do not constitute legal advice. While some lawyers and legal scholars have influenced (and hopefully will directly contribute to) the information included here, individuals as well as organizations should consult with bar-certified lawyers in their local community to obtain legal advice relating to these and other issues.


All content on this website is licensed under a Creative-Commons Attribution-Only 3.0 license. Contributed content to this wiki acknowledges this license, and contributors by their contributions agree to these license terms.



Comments (4)

Wesley Fryer said

at 2:15 pm on Mar 31, 2009

Address how colleges and universities have done in these wide open environments to protect resources and keep the network going strong.

Wesley Fryer said

at 2:20 pm on Mar 31, 2009

USAA, COSA: these are issues that administrators will listen to in those conference forums

Mike King said

at 11:09 am on Jun 12, 2009

good information

Renee Peoples said

at 2:53 pm on Jul 12, 2009

I am so glad someone is talking about this! It needs to be out in the open. I think it is sometimes easier to block than to spend the time making decisions so maybe we need more resources to help create better decisions.

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