New web filtering troubles Students
Monday, 22 October 2012 19:50USA has recently begun the blocking of websites that the University deem to be outside of official business purposes.
The web filtering has come into question by students and faculty on campus as all the University of South Alabama hard-wired computers follow the blocking regulation.
“The University of South Alabama’s computers and internet service are state property and the University is responsible for ensuring that state property is used only for official business purposes, whether it is equipment, facilities, computers or computer bandwidth,” USA Director of Public Relations Keith Ayers said.
“USA has contracted with an outside firm to help with issues related to the use of state-owned computers and internet service provided by the University.
“The purpose of these controls is to allow for the greatest legitimate use of the computer system, at the same time protecting the University from the liability of allowing illegal activity on its computer systems or allowing employees to use state property for non-business purposes,” stated Ayers.
“Many organizations have similar controls in place as part of their risk management,” Ayers added.
The web filtering blocks websites for a number of reasons ranging from gaming to adult material.
These sites are only blocked on University owned and operated computers, students in residence halls should be almost unaffected.
“For students in residence halls, the only sites that are blocked are those that are illegal by their nature, such as child pornography and sites that illegally reproduce copyrighted material.
“For employees, the system blocks sites that have no apparent University business need to be accessed. Examples would include certain gaming and entertainment sites,” Ayers explained.
Some people on campus have been affected more than others and harshly disagree with the web filtering, Stasia Weston, who works with the Second Life and Edugaming at USA has had her dissertation disrupted by the web filters.
“I’m the “go to” person on campus for Second Life and edugaming and what they’ve done has just amounted to unravelling 3+ years worth of my work and left me dead in the water as far as research for my dissertation using people from this university for interviews and virtual observations,” Weston explained. “I’ve basically had to refocus my dissertation so that I can use interviews and observations of people not affiliated with USA.”
“This has been a major issue trying to do research and other things for classes, having to wait to have sites unblocked and fixed. This is becoming a mess to just get anything done,” stated Patrick Collins, meteorology major. “We couldn’t even get our radar data from Allison-house for the department till we called to unblock it.”
There is a way to get a website unblocked if a student or faculty member thinks it has been wrongly blocked. If a site is blocked you receive a screen with information as to why it is blocked as well as links to send a request for a review of the website and possibly get is unblocked.
“Of course, no system is perfect and if an employee or student is inadvertently blocked from accessing a site that falls within the appropriate guidelines, he or she should follow the directions on the blocking notification system to restore access,” Ayers said.