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Teacher warns pornographic images not being blocked on school computers

Posted by: Ellen Feely | 9 November, 2012 - 12:38 PM
Victorian teacher warns students are able to view pornographic images online due to an ISP update.

A Victorian teacher has warned that school students are now able to view pornographic images at school due to an update to the Education Department’s internet service provider's system.

Speaking with Neil Mitchell, school teacher ‘Joanne’ said yesterday while her colleague was researching images for a recycling and sustainability project with a student, the teacher typed ‘dirty world’ into Google Images.

"The IT teacher almost got whiplash slapping down the lid of the laptop," she said.

"The child did not see it."

Joanne claimed the issue lay with the Education Department’s Internet Service Provider, Netspace, updating their systems which has led to a change in schools’ web filtering.

However Mike D'Monte, Educatation Manager for Metspace said the problem pertained to Google Images directly.

"All Government schools that use the Internet service provided by Netspace are forced through the Google 'Strict' filtering. This means no matter what the students search for the results should come back as only appropriately tagged images," he said.

"What Joanne reported appears to be a number of images very recently added all tagged with 'Tom's Dirty World'. We have reported all of these images to Google. Google will review these reports and after verifying that these images are incorrectly categorised will no longer allow them to be displayed when "Strict Search" is enforced."

Joanne said after technicians at the school contacted the Education Department’s Internet Service Provider, Netspace, they were told the resolution would be that images of any kind would be blocked.

"That doesn’t help them because I’m doing (a project) on sea creatures and we want pictures of crabs or dolphins," she said.

Joanne said the issue would affect schools statewide.

"It’s Netspace and they’re not protecting our kids and this is Victoria-wide because the whole Education Department uses it," she said.

"So if other schools haven’t picked up on it, they could be in big trouble."

Joanne said pictures were an integral part of learning.

"We need images for what we’re teaching the kids to support the text," Joanne said.

"We’ve got three year levels, four, five, and six, who all have private netbook computers in the classroom."

Joanne said all teachers at her school had yesterday avoided using the Internet in their classes.

However the Education Department claims they have not been made aware of any issues at Joanne's primary school.

"All Victorian government schools are provided access to a filtered internet service which has appropriate restrictions on sites that can be accessed by their students," a spokesperson at the Department of Education said.

"Schools are responsible for ensuring that the ISP service is used appropriately and have the option to apply additional local filters."

The spokesperson said Netspace's software had not been updated in recent months.

LISTEN: Teacher 'Joanne' speaks with Neil Mitchell:

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Blog comments Your Say

  • I'm afraid this is a simple problem with the english language. It isn't a perfect and specific language like for example a computer programming language. You are ALWAYS going to have misunderstanding, unless we start speaking assembly language or something.

    Jason Monday 12 November, 2012 - 9:57 AM
  • Should the teachers be doing preparation for their classes and selecting appropriate material for their students to use beforehand?

    In this big bad world, should they be shielded in the classroom and then exposed in their homes after school, where they may not be as closely supervised?

    Rather than keeping the big bad world completely at bay, maybe we should teach them right from wrong, and give them wisdom to make the appropriate choices.

    Teachers: Maybe Wikipedia instead of Google?

    Solomon's Sword Sunday 11 November, 2012 - 11:11 AM
  • I'm Mike D'Monte, the Education Manager here at Netspace and need to set the record straight. The issue Joanne reports has nothing to do with the department, nor Netspace. The issue is within the Google Images service.

    All Government schools that use the Internet service provided by Netspace are forced through the Google "Strict" filtering. This means no matter what the students search for the results should come back as only appropriately tagged images.

    What Joanne reported appears to be a number of images very recently added all tagged with "Tom's Dirty World". We have reported all of these images to Google. Google will review these reports and after verifying that these images are incorrectly categorised will no longer allow them to be displayed when "Strict Search" is enforced.

    Alternatively Joanne or other staff could have done this themselves or contacted Netspace and asked us to report these images when they encountered them (yesterday) and we would have gladly done so.
    I'd like to reply directly to Joanne. You are incorrect on a number of levels and I find it appalling that you have chosen a public forum to air this before getting your facts straight: the issue is not Netspace; we do protect your kids; no filtering solution is bullet-proof, but ours leads the country and the world in a number of ways; this is an International vulnerability - not just confined to Victoria, or the eduSTAR.ISP service; us updating our systems has nothing to do with it - although the categories get updated continuously this is in no way related to the issue you have faced.

    My email address is as follows: mike.dmonte@staff.netspace.net.au - more than happy for you to contact me directly to discuss further.

    Mike D'Monte Friday 9 November, 2012 - 4:22 PM

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