Recommending Internet Filters to Church Members

This forum contains discussions related to keeping families and individuals safe while making use of technology. Acceptable topics would range from how to protect families from Internet predators and online pornography, monitoring and protecting cell phone usage and text messaging, locking unwanted television and movies from various devices, protecting and monitoring computer game usage, and promoting safe Internet and technology use.
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Post by garylm-p40 »

RussellHltn wrote:Sorry
I'm sorry too. I re-read the post that you referred to, and it pegged my snarky meter. So I nuked it.
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Post by mkmurray »

Let me just warn everyone here that this discussion is beginning to wander from the purpose of these forums. We are not here to persuade anyone for or against internet filters, internet browsers, operating systems, etc.

I think it best to leave this discussion where it is at, and agree that we've all shared some opinions and all been edified by the discussion. Thanks.
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Post by thedqs »

In keeping with Mike's suggestion. I have created a new thread to talk about possible server specs for protecting and filtering. It is in [thread=515]Server Specs[/thread].
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Post by rmrichesjr »

garylm wrote:Perhaps we can cook up a solution here for an inexpensive home server, with a recommended hardware list, Kickstart installer, and how-to guide.

Some smarty-pants will read this and tell us not to waste our time, that his company will be coming out with a "Mormon ITX" box this fall.
I hadn't been thinking about a separate ITX "server" box, just encouraging people to install a more secure browser and/or OS on their present hardware. An ITX "server" box does sound like an interesting idea, though.

If you're serious about that idea, maybe we should start a separate thread. The first step would be to define scope and requirements. I kind-of suspect requirements will end up varying so drastically that a single solution will be unworkable. A few issues that come to mind are server as router vs. separate router, server as web proxy vs. something else, server as NFS and/or Samba server or not, TV tuner to act as DVR vs. not, print server vs. not, etc.
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We have been asked...


Post by BrainClay »

RussellHltn wrote:Sorry, I don't see the quote (or the pamphlet) backing the statement that "we have been asked". Nothing wrong with doing so. :cool: But I also stay alert for "commandment creep" because that's what happened to Pharisees and Sadducees and I don't think human nature has changed that much since then.

I agree with RussellHltn that we need to be on the watch for 'commandment creep'. We are also not to be commanded in all things. I also agree with the moderator that we need to tone down this discussion - I too appreciate the discussion that resulted!

I realize that I didn't give sufficient quotes for "we have been asked", so share these quotes from recent Conference talks:

Dallin H. Oaks, “Pornography,” Ensign, May 2005, 87
“We must also act to protect those we love. Parents install alarms to warn if their household is threatened by smoke or carbon monoxide. We should also install protections against spiritual threats, protections like filters on Internet connections and locating access so others can see what is being viewed. And we should build the spiritual strength of our families by loving relationships, family prayer, and scripture study.”

M. Russell Ballard, “Let Our Voices Be Heard,” Ensign, Nov 2003, 16
“5. We need to use Internet filters and TV programming locks to prevent our children from “chancing upon” things they should not see.
6. We need to have TVs and computers in a much-used common room in the home, not in a bedroom or a private place.”

Some might read these quotes and decide that it only applies to those who have children, and they might be right. Others will see in them only suggestions. I personally want to install filtering to protect even just my wife and I.
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Post by russellhltn »

bcpalmer60 wrote: Dallin H. Oaks, “Pornography,” Ensign, May 2005, 87

M. Russell Ballard, “Let Our Voices Be Heard,” Ensign, Nov 2003, 16
Request for citation satisfied. :)
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Post by daddy-o-p40 »

This is a FREE way to block by category at the DNS level. Check out
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Comprehensive Content Filtering Solution


Post by weaverl-p40 »

This is a copy of a letter sent to Joel Dehlin, Chief Information Officer for the Church:

[font=&quot]I work it IT/Dept of Natural Resources for the State of Utah. I realize the following letter is a bit long, but I think/hope you’ll find it worthwhile.[/font]

[font=&quot]For many years, I have had a project burning in me that I am determined to make a reality, even if it takes me 30 years (which it just might). My prayer is that the Lord is already inspiring the brethren to take action on this problem. My vision is that of a comprehensive open-source content filtering program (hopefully spear-headed by the church). I have invested a great deal of thought, prayer and research into this project and will try to explain why no existing product or single-approach solution is or will/be sufficient to protect the saints from the pornography plague (anticipated and planned by god, mind you, for specific reasons) that is upon our youth and adults alike.[/font]

[font=&quot]In the end, the answer to the pornography problem needs to be the same as has been for every addictive and dangerous substance and behavior; a religiously educated (righteous) population, combined with effective and righteous government regulation. It has been these two factors which have made America one of the healthiest and most productive nations on earth for at least the last 70 years. Yet I believe the erosion of those two criteria are setting the stage for the decline and fall of our great nation. I sadly believe (and I hope I'm wrong on this one), that the American populace has been sexually numbed to a point that internet pornography will never be effectively regulated, (because of the new “sexual free-speech” argument), despite the fact that (more righteous) previous generations fairly-effectively regulated other potentially harmful media in the past such as magazine sales, television, cable, and cinema (compared to many other countries, at least). America’s watchmen have let down their guard and it is now everyman for himself. [/font]

[font=&quot]Internet saturation in the United States is in many regions as high as 90%, however in many third world countries it is lower than 5%, and I believe the Lord will inspire (if not the Church, some other organization) so that the Saints in emerging third world countries populated largely by the House of Israel may avoid the “devastating scourge” which will accompany this spiritual plague enveloping developed nations (see D&C 45:31).[/font]

[font=&quot]I think an acquaintance of mine serving as a missionary president in Arizona a few years ago summed up what the Spirit’s been whispering to me, in a letter to us:[/font]
[INDENT] “Pornography has again reared its ugly head with one of our missionaries. I supported the change in allowing missionaries to email when it was changed last year. Now, I wish the Church would ban it again. Porn causes more problems than nearly all other forms of disobedience. It is so degrading to the missionaries and it destroys their spirituality for weeks at a time. It takes up huge hunks of our interview time and threatens the relationships I have with some of the offenders. They are so embarrassed by their weakness they lose their ability to make effective goals and they're often too embarrassed to discuss it with me after the third or fourth failure. I'm convinced it is THE plague that will and is sweeping the earth prior to the Second Coming. Nothing approaches its insidious nature and pervasive appeal to men and women of all ages. The failure rate is so high among young men I believe it threatens the entire missionary effort of the Church. We need effective prevention and treatment mechanisms and we need to start with the 8-11 year olds. I'm afraid 12 is way too late.”
[/INDENT] [font=&quot]An effective solution is presently obtainable, and although we cannot control the government’s decision to regulate, I believe the Church can be a Noah’s Ark on this one. I sincerely hope you might put some thought and prayer into this, and contact me if you don’t capture the vision of this needed multi-tiered content filtering solution.[/font]

[font=&quot]In order to be effective the project must meet the following guidelines.[/font]

[font=&quot]1- It must be just one part of a larger overall solution which includes prevention, protection and rehabilitation. [/font]
[font=&quot]2- It must utilize both static and dynamic filtering technologies[/font]
[font=&quot]3- It must be open-source and/or sponsored and supported by a large user-community. [/font]
[font=&quot]4- It must be designed/available and/or integrated into all four internet/network interface levels.[/font]
[font=&quot]5- It must be sponsored and pushed by the church and/or similar influential organizations. [/font]

[font=&quot]Let me detail the above outline:[/font]

[font=&quot]1- It must be just one part of a larger overall solution which includes prevention, protection and rehabilitation. [/font]

[font=&quot]The overall solution to pornography, like any addictive or socially damaging substance, includes prevention, protection, and rehabilitation. The example is often used- "the warning signs at the top of the cliff, the safety railing at the edge of the cliff, and the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff". This software solution deals exclusively with the "protection" (or protective railing) aspect of this equation, and is THE only part of the overall solution that the church has not yet heavily invested in. (Teaching/warning members of the danger before exposure, protecting them from exposure with filtering software, and rehabilitating them with bishops, Family Services and Addiction Recovery Programs after exposure.)[/font]

[font=&quot]2- It must utilize both static and dynamic filtering technologies[/font]

[font=&quot]As one who has done a great deal of research and testing of content filters, it is obvious that they all have their strengths and weakness. Neither solution alone is adequate. Because so many new websites are being created daily, a dynamic filtering service is the only way to address new and growing threats. On the other hand, dynamic filtering technologies are notorious at over-blocking, and cause enough nuisance to the user experience that many do not want to use them. Additionally, dynamic technologies cannot block objectionable sites which contain no searchable text or utilize flash player text cloaking and the like. To avoid these problems, a combination of dynamic with static filtering technology must be used, where each site after dynamic scanning is also checked against a categorized database of websites.[/font]

[font=&quot]3- It must be open-source and/or sponsored and supported by a large user community. [/font]

[font=&quot]There are two reasons why the project must be open-source and sponsored by a large community. First of all, the web-site category database will always be greatly lacking, unless a large user community can (and are urged to) constantly "submit" new and corrected categories for emerging and miscategorized websites. Secondly, one of the biggest deterrents for individuals using content filtering products is cost. From both personal and professional experience, it is obvious that this factor will always keep the number of people protected, relatively low. Also, by making the solution open-source, one draws on the time and expertise of a large community of volunteers to help innovate and develop the product. It also provides a robust code-base for filtering companies to improve upon as they develop even better filter solutions. And most importantly it will provide a comprehensive, open website categorization database, for companies, governments, and organizations to share, copy and improve upon for their own purposes.[/font]

[font=&quot]4- It must be designed/available at all four internet interface levels.[/font]

[font=&quot]These four levels are the WAN interface (ISP/Large Network filtering), the LAN interface (modems & router filtering), the Client (PC filtering programs), the Browser (client and mobile browser filtering). No one solution is adequate for every (or even the majority of) situations. WAN interface filtering appliances are by far the most effective, but users are at the mercy of their ISP or network administrator for solutions, and children’s' phones and laptops used at hot-spots are unprotected. LAN interface solutions are the next best solution, since many households have too many devises for client protection alone or have internet access through other devices like a Play-Station or Wii. Client programs are the only viable solution to protect laptops being used at hot-spots, but are easily circumvented with use of devise bootable operating systems and the like. However, for a family needing only a means to prevent accidental pornographic exposure, they are more than adequate and far better than nothing. Browser plug-ins can be integrated to offer easy user-interface tools to submit categorizations and can be used by those wishing to protect a machine they do not have privileges to install software on. It is also the best solution for many personal mobile devises.[/font]

[font=&quot]5- It must be sponsored and pushed by the church or similar influential organizations. [/font]

[font=&quot]In order to achieve the level of user-saturation needed to preserve the moral fabric of the saints and (at least) the intermountain area of the United States, the project must be actively pushed by the church or some influential organization. Without this, the divine decree to protect the rising generation from the next stage of moral decline and sexual permissiveness (which has already begun in our nation), will never be able to be fully accomplished. Parents need to be constantly reminded that having an unprotected internet connection in your home is similar to bringing printed pornography into your home and then telling your children just “not to look”. Would any good parent subscribe to the Play Boy channel on their cable TV? Most parents simply do not realize that an unprotected internet connection is no different. Parents need to be educated from a trusted source on the dangers and the available solutions. And most importantly, they must have these at little to no cost, or the ones who may need and even want it most may not be able to get it.[/font]

[font=&quot]I suggest the best way to begin would be with the purchase of an existing company (or at least their source code) which specializes in a few of the needed tiers. And then develop the resources needed to follow the lead of other companies who have implemented other pieces of the needed full solution. In reality companies such as ContentProtect (based here in Salt Lake City) would provide a more than ample launch pad, but simply do not have the capitol, resources or motivation to implement the needed full solution.[/font]
Various companies and organizations have utilized individual aspects of this needed solution, but none have or can present the comprehensive solution. Some examples include applications used by national firewalls such as those used by China, S. Korea, Saudi Arabia, etc. User communities such as those created by, etc. Software companies such as Content-Protect, 8e6 Technologies, Secure Computing, Blue Coat, etc. Open-source projects (which already form the code-base for many of these products) such as Dan’s Guardian, Squid Guard, Squid-Cache, etc. And finally, a bit of political lobbying to governments for a long term solutions such as done by, etc. However, most, if not all, of these organizations specialize mainly in targeting things other than pornography, such as spam, viruses, anti-government information, phishing schemes, etc. The fact is, that all of the large companies involved are largely marketing to an already sexually desensitized consumer base. And the ones which target pornography exclusively (as mentioned above) simply do not have the capitol, resources or motivation to implement the needed full solution. Other than the Lord’s Church, I don’t know of any other organization on earth (except for the countries of China, Saudi Arabia, etc.) capable and willing to build this Ark. It is my prayer that you might give my idea some meditation, and pray about whether such a solution might worthy of suggesting to those over you. I truly believe the brethren are deeply concerned about this issue and hungry for tech-savvy individuals to help offer solutions. I can’t tell you the forcefulness of the spiritual experiences which have shown me the different aspects of the needed solution and prompted me to write this letter.[/font]
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Post by russellhltn »

Frankly, I think the best option would be for it to be headed by an anti-pornography group (perhaps one the church belongs to) rather then headed by the church itself.

If it was headed by the Church, it would likely be shunned by non-members. If headed by an anti-pornography group, it would enjoy wider use and support then the church members alone could give it.

It would also give members a chance to work with others who share our values rather then be "inward looking".
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Post by brado426 »

I would not trust any Internet filter regardless of what organization it came from or how extensive it claimed to be.

In my home, ALL websites will be blocked. My kids will need to come to me for each website they need to access and I will either approve or disapprove it. Trusting anyone else other than yourself to filter the Internet is, in my humble opinion, a mistake.

Brad O.

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