Internet Filtering

What system does the district use to block inappropriate web sites? 

The system is called Total Traffic Control by LightSpeed Systems. It is the same system that also provides spam filtering for our district.  The company, LightSpeed Systems, reviews web sites and places them into categories.  Our district then selects which categories we want blocked. We also have the ability to block specific sites as well as unblock sites for specific users.



Why do we filter at all, can’t we just turn it off?
According to federal law, referred to as CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act), schools must provide filtering to protect students from inappropriate material, including pornography.  Schools are not required to block beyond this need, however, they may elect to do so.


 Do we block more than is required by CIPA? 
Yes, we block beyond CIPA guidelines, including categories like proxies.  Proxies are web based tools that enable users to by pass filtering systems –  these are blocked because it makes no sense to block pornography but yet allow users to access proxies.


Are the filters 100% accurate?
No.  No filtering system can ever be 100% accurate, all the time.  Web sites are constantly changing, which makes it impossible for filters to catch everything 100% of the time.


What categories are currently blocked in West Des Moines Schools?

 Currently,  the following categories are blocked…

 Porn –  Pornography related sites, including

 Suspicous.script – Websites whose only content is javascript – frequently used to hide porn sites

 Security.proxy – Web proxy servers and open SMTP relays.  Proxy web sites are used to bypass filtering to gain access to pornography or other blocked material

 Security.warez – Sites promoting illegal access and sharing of software and other copyrighted material

 security.phishing – Web sites of internet scams that try to get personal information

 security.spyware – Spyware – advertising supported software

 security.virus – Viruses, malware, trojans, backdoors, hacker tools

 plagarism – Web sites that sell term papers, research papers, and other ways to help students cheat


What about other services such as streaming radio?
Streaming video and radios sites are not blocked.


What about YouTube, what is the district policy regarding YouTube?
We have always allowed YouTube for staff and students. While there are certainly some ‘pointless’ videos on YouTube, teachers have commented that there remains many worthwhile, educational videos.


If a website is blocked, what is the process to have it reviewed?

1) Visit the webpage online. When presented with the “Blocked by LightSpeed Systems” page, click on the link to submit a review.  Fill out your rationale for why this site should be available to staff and students. 

2) The information on this form is first sent to LightSpeed Systems, who reviews the form within an hour (during business hours).  They review the web site to ensure that the web site was categorized correctly.  For example, if the website was categorized as a porn web site, they check to verify that this categorization was correct.  If it was categorized incorrectly, they change the category, which will open up access to the site.  If the categorization is found to be accurate, then they will forward the request back to our school district, where it will be reviewed locally.


3) If the request is sent to the district, it will be reviewed by members of Teaching & Learning Services.


What if the web site is open and available and I want to see it blocked?
Send an email to the Director of Technology, Brian Abeling,
, list the specific website and rationale for why it should be blocked.  If the site fits in our existing policy, it will be addressed by the Director of Technology. Otherwise, if you are asking for a new category/type of web site to be blocked, then he will involve the Directors of Curriculum in Teaching & Learning Services to assist with the decision.

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