This software is mostly useful when you have children who will be using a computer to access the internet. The software works in one of four ways -
- white list - only those web sites listed can be accessed - useful for small children where you decide in advance what web sites that they can visit, you are effectively limiting their web access to just those sites that you have authorised in advance
- black list a list of web sites that can't be accessed - ineffective because there will be lots of similar sites that are not blocked,
- algorithmic where the software determines whether or not to allow access based on the content of the page - more effective than blacklist but will still let lots of sites that ought to be blocked through as well as blocking access to legitimate sites,
- logging where the software records what sites that are visited in a log - useful with older children. This doesn't actually prevent them from visiting any page at all on the web but it does allow you to see afterwards just exactly see what sites that they have visited. You can therefore take appropriate action should they visit inappropriate sites. This allows them to be responsible for their own use while allowing you to know that they are acting responsibly.
These types of software are inappropriate for use other than with children. Even with older children it is impossible to set up a white list of all the sites that they might need to visit and the black list and algorithmic solutions are as ineffective regardless of age. Using logging software would be a breach of privacy if used for any other purpose.
This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.