Web blocks get specific

Chronicle Staff

SurfControl, the service that blocks students from visiting inappropriate websites, is undergoing changes to more accurately define the sites that it blocks.

“We’re in the process of fixing [and] correcting the page that appears when a site is blocked,” Computer Services Director David Ruben said in an e-mail. “Our new Network Manager has been creating pages that more accurately describe why the page was blocked.”

As a result of these changes, if a student visits a website with a modified blocking page, they will be presented with a white blocking page instead of the traditional black one.

“I’ve heard complaints about blocked websites in general, but not about the information page,” Ruben said. “We just felt it would be helpful to let people know why that particular page was blocked.”

In the past, the blocked pages often provided nonsensical reasons for why a page was blocked. Some pages were said to be blocked because of “educational content.”

The SurfControl service has been in use since the school started offering internet access, blocking gambling, hate, gaming and pornography sites. Sites cannot be unblocked individually.

“It’s not practical for us to unblock or block them by individual page,” Ruben said.