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Microsoft Windows Censorship Your Rights Online

EC Tests Show Windows Vista Is Above Average — At Blocking Content 101

Posted by timothy
from the bad-oysters-good-laxative dept.
littlekorea writes "Microsoft's much-maligned Vista operating system has been named in the top three of 26 tools tested by the European Commission to filter out web content deemed inappropriate for children. The EC tests found that none of the 26 products enjoyed a 100 percent success rate, failing to block over one in five adult sites. It also found that few tools could overcome the workarounds available through cache or translation sites."
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EC Tests Show Windows Vista Is Above Average — At Blocking Content

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  • by phonewebcam (446772) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:06AM (#34903498) Homepage

    Once its used up your allowance [engadget.com] nothing gets past it at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by PmanAce (1679902)
      From your link:

      It seems to be related to the automatic "Feedback" in the settings menu being enabled by default. It seems to periodically send MS large packets of data. Turn off the automatic feedback to eliminate this.
  • by AlexiaDeath (1616055) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:16AM (#34903522)
    As long as you aren't ready to let your kid run free on the internet and see all there is to see, use white-lists. Anything else is doomed to fail.
    • I don't see that option in Mozilla/Seamonkey or Firefox.

      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        I don't see that option in Mozilla/Seamonkey or Firefox.

        Do Mozilla advertise their browsers (I forget what SeaMonkey is/ was) as being suitable for crippled browsing for mind-impaired people? I don't think that I saw that part of the advertising campaign. Is it an option, or a compulsory part of your current choice of browser?

    • by Warma (1220342)

      I know I'm probably a bit immature and this is not even on topic, but these posts endorsing or even accepting censorship of the internet always feel depressing. I remember how in my youth, Internet was one of the free territories, disjoint from actual reality - where parents and other boring adults could not function and thus had no authority over.

      Sure, I saw my share of Japanese women in dubious activities, but why should anyone care? Seriously. What about the kids of the future? Where do they go if they j

      • by xaxa (988988) on Monday January 17, 2011 @09:37AM (#34903988)

        If you read the report on this page [lse.ac.uk] "Risks and safety on the internet: The perspective of European children. Full Findings" you'll see that some children were negatively affected by what they saw on the internet -- mostly ones that saw violent pornography.

        I think there's little reason to block things if a teenager is actively searching for them, but there are good reasons to prevent a nine year old child seeing something unpleasant, for example children can have difficulty separating fantasy from reality. For the same reason, advertisers here aren't allowed to advertise a violent horror film during a programme children are likely to see.

        The blocking software/services are managed by parents, and I don't see any difference in principle between blocking web content and hiding your 18+ films in the back of a cupboard.

        • What's a nine year old doing online alone?
          • by xaxa (988988)

            What's a nine year old doing online alone?

            Perhaps something they don't want their parents to see, but not necessarily something their parents wouldn't want them to do.

            (Example: sending messages to a friend.)

            • Put the pc in the living room, you don't need to sit next to them & read every link they click to know what they're doing.
          • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Monday January 17, 2011 @10:14AM (#34904350) Journal

            Let him. Just use a Whitelisted system. There are Kids Browsers out there. If he wants a site in his browser, "he has to ask IT". That's the mentality we should promote, not "the net is too big and scary".

            I'd rather a kid gets to do things without mommy and just know in the background that say when he turns 14 he can get "the adult internet".

            • by MrKaos (858439)

              Let him. Just use a Whitelisted system. There are Kids Browsers out there. If he wants a site in his browser, "he has to ask IT". That's the mentality we should promote, not "the net is too big and scary".

              It's a good idea but the net is big and scary so, lets be realistic and honest about it. Whats appropriate is for a child to be able to develop the skills to use it properly. That means, if your idea is to become effective, that it's also necessary to discuss their choices. Understanding the choices develops the relationship with the child and helps them to make their own decisions responsibly. If a child knows you are going to monitor their website choices there is a better chance that they will start to a

              • We both agree on "developing the skills". Let's say there's two entirely different classes of skills. One skill level is much like muscle memory. It's that Tyrrany of Choice problem, which a child is less equipped to handle. He needs raw time just to sign on to KidMessenger and just chatter without every session being monitored by BigParents.

                Then a couple of years later, say age 12, they get to peek at the Grownup Internet which STILL has KidMessenger, and a lot of L33t stuff ... and a lot of sharks. So the

          • by vlueboy (1799360)

            If you live in the USA, you know that every major kids program and related advertising out there lures them to shopping-related content and educational activities --the ads say "Please ask for your parents permission to go online and play with Dora [flash games with your favorite TV show chars]."

            If you know Americans, who are king amongst the time-spent-vegging-near-the-TV world, you'll also know the sad reality that parents don't monitor their kids closely... they unwittingly teach them from ages 3 and up

        • by vlueboy (1799360)

          A little known fact is that starting in 2006, MS gifted its Vista and later OSs with Parental controls [microsoft.com] enforceable for non-admin accounts. It blocks DVDs, games and even has time-of-day restrictions (uTorrent-like-scheduler GUI) and website white-lists / blacklists (the latter has logging avaiable to any Admin account also), the same as any modern TV's for off-the-air TV in the USA.

          The problem is that few people know or care to use these controls. Fortunately, you guys may benefit now that you know. I don't

      • I personally agree on not hiding the facts of life from kids, but I am going to make it perfectly clear what is acceptable and what isn't. I also respect some parents wishes to regulate the their kids internet usage more carefully. Making that as easy as possible might prevent stupid parents from extorting law makers to drawing up stupid and pointless regulation for the sake of protecting the children that end up spoiling the internet for everyone.
      • How old were you when you got access to the Internet for the first time? I think I was 14, maybe slightly older. This was with a 14.4Kb/s modem initially, so most web browsing was done with images off and I spent most of the time in IRC or similar chat systems. I could probably have met some pedophiles there, but there were so few children online back then that I don't think there were any about.

        The Internet today is quite different. Access is pretty much ubiquitous, so children are getting online befo

    • There are easy enough ways around that, too. It's almost impossible to lock down a machine someone has unrestricted physical access to, especially for those who don't have the technical skill to know all the various workarounds. Hell, it's difficult for those who do have extensive technical skill.

      The solution here is lower tech. As long as you aren't ready to let your kid run free on the internet and see all there is to see, supervise them while they use it. And realize that's not even a perfect solution, a

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The solution here is lower tech.

        I don't have kids, but I remember what it was like to be one. I consider being able to bypass a firewall to be a means of proving your readiness to view pornography.

        • by vlueboy (1799360)

          Does bypassing them without doing any educational growing up count? You won't feel the same if you think you're turning off your firewall because your kid is "grown" when someone else did all the work.

          They can learn from other kids in their classes, just like they learn the rest about sex without our help and from links in their gaming forums. We've already seen 13-year-olds asking how they can bypass security at forums, and they usually good receive tips on proxies and default router passwords (which no sl

      • Not if the restriction is on the connection, not on the machine. It would be relatively simple to build in a child safe interface into common home routers that the parents can manage adding white-listing to the "kids" network.
        • Routers already have this ability, and mine to my knowledge will allow either black or whitelisting. Unless you have your router in a locked and guarded room, though, I'd reiterate the point of physical access. Most common home routers have a pretty simple way to reset to factory defaults by holding a button on them.

          • Res-etting hardware is not a traceless crime. Any kid doing it will get caught very very fast , since the router will stop working without its ADSL/pppoe settings for most cases and in others, reset to defaults for unknown reasons is immediately obvious + the parents passwords stop working. And then the kid is in for quick lesson in what the world thinks of tampering with other peoples hardware through one serious loss of privileges.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      I would add that if your kids access pornography through google cache or translation services, it means they were actively looking for it, hence they are ready for it. The goal of parental control is to prevent kids from accidentally stumble on sexual content. But you will never manage to prevent them from getting it once they become a little bit tech-savvy.
      • by Teun (17872)
        Well worded.

        Besides, kids from slashdotters know how to run a Live Disk and, when necessary, use the old modem to access the net.

    • by awol (98751)

      My kids are heading towards this age and I feel this area is very complex.

      I don't want my kids to be afraid to surf anywhere, but by the same token, I want to know where they are going, but then again I can imagine that there are things they might want to research that they don't want me to know about. So my regime at the moment is... everything will be logged through the access proxy installed at our home. Except for periods of time where they can go and look at anything they want, but during these times,

  • by doperative (1958782) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:21AM (#34903540)

    "OpenDNS gives you the option to block dozens of categories on your networks, for free. From social networking to job sites, from gambling to video sharing, from webmail to alcohol and more: with OpenDNS, you make the choice about what's available on your network" link [opendns.com]

    • by Feinu (1956378) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:59AM (#34903706)

      OpenDNS Basic is ranked at 22 of the 26 solutions that were tested, scoring below average on all four categories: Functionality, Effectiveness, Usability and Security. The list is available here [europa.eu].

      Interestingly, Mac OS X ranked as the best solution, scoring better than all the tested purpose-built options.

      • by Noughmad (1044096)

        Interestingly, Mac OS X ranked as the best solution, scoring better than all the tested purpose-built options.

        Then why the hell is the article about Vista?

        Next we'll get "User share tests show Debian is above average".

    • ...and does not know about many sites, and does not block new sites ....

      Something that is 80% effective is worse than useless for protection

      All this proves this that filtering in all browsers is rubbish (even IE) and should not be relied upon, internet filtering software is better but still not as effective as it needs to be

      The only two solutions are :

      1) Don't let your kid on the internet at all - Not practical nowadays
      2) Supervise your children ....rather than trying to let technology do it for you ...

    • I keep seeing people praising the many virtues of OpenDNS on various blogs and forums relating to this subject. Their praise is so unrestrained, I suspect now that OpenDNS is running some soft of astroturfing campaign. Or perhaps just one one very active supporter patroling the same sites as me.

      Not this comment though. His history is too diverse - this one looke genuine.
      • Apart from appearing in some tables, the report gives no real data as to the methods used to produce the results in relation to OpenDNS, as such it's next to useless. According to the web site 'OpenDNS basic' utilizes a whitelist, as such it would totally block all non-whitelisted content.

        • And I'm sure the 10e-8% of the internet that allows you to look at is very educational. /s

          If you use a whitelist, you're basically asking the user to find a way around it.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...it crashes every time you try to visit a website.

  • by tomknight (190939) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:24AM (#34903564) Homepage Journal

    Very interesting area. Before people start saying that parents need to take control themselves (instead of letting software do their job for them), I as a parent of a seven year old believe I should do both. Be around to help, as well as give my daughter freedom and independence. She's not daft, but there is always the chance (especially on flash-games type sites) for interesting popups to... diversify her web and life experience. I use k9 filtering to help avoid this sort of thing. Wow, this almost sounds like a customer testimonial, sorry....

    Anway, the article sadly has a duff link in it. The report's *really* at:
    http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/sip/projects/filter_label/sip_bench2/index_en.htm [europa.eu]

    The full report PDF is:
    http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/sip/docs/sip_bench2_results/report_jan11.pdf [europa.eu]

    See also:
    http://www.yprt.eu/sip/ [www.yprt.eu]

    • by tomknight (190939)
      P.S. Yes, my browser of choice (Opera) does help by reducing most popups, but of course IE still works on my PC and that's a different kettle of fish entirely....
    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Personally I don't have much of a problem with this "interesting" stuff popping up unexpectedly. The only filter that I use is called AdBlockPlus (and that's not intended to block adult stuff, it just blocks the unwanted part). Oh well and the pop-up blocker in FF of course (are there actually any sites still using pop-ups?).

      Short of ads, the only way to see adult material is to intentionally go for it. Via Google searches (you may want to switch on SafeSearch - by the time they're interested enough to swi

      • Short of ads, the only way to see adult material is to intentionally go for it.

        You must be new to web forums.

    • by JunkmanUK (909293)

      Well said. It's important for my kids to be able to experience the fun and freedom of the internet without "extra-curricular" interference. There's no difference between that and my deploying a spam filter to remove the 'unwanted annoyances'!

      I use k9 as well so I can agree with your "testimonial" ;)

    • >>>there is always the chance (especially on flash-games type sites) for interesting popups to..... diversify her web and life experience.

      I don't see any harm if my child sees a nudie pic or two.
      And for the really nasty stuff, would not see that
      unless she's deliberately searching for it.

    • by kcitren (72383)
      The whole "parents should take responsibility instead of using software" thing is a crock to begin with. To use a car analogy, it's like saying you shouldn't put seatbelts in your kids car, they should learn how to drive better. Multiple levels of protection, up to a point and cost permitting, are always better.
    • by gsslay (807818)

      The best filtering of all is to use duff links! Nothing beats a 404 error for all-family viewer suitability!

      Anyway, what value is there to a report that covers an obsolete OS that no-one can buy anymore? And everyone knows that the only reason Vista scores well is it makes everything difficult for everyone. That doesn't mean it's "safe", it means it's a horrible user experience.

      If Vista counts as safe I have an even better tool to enhance that safety; squirt insulating foam in through your computer's fa

    • Be around to help, as well as give my daughter freedom and independence.

      But she is only seven years old! She is not a teenager to start considering about her own life, she is a kid. And what "web experience" are you talking about at this age? Is it now an essential part of a child's education?

      • by tomknight (190939)
        This is at least partly about playing on a computer, not necessarily anything to do with education. I let her use it with me in the area to help out if needs be, the same way I let her climb trees in the park. I can't always see her (like when she's clambering through the yew and laurel hedges/bushes) but we can both find each other if needs be.
  • by EEDAm (808004) on Monday January 17, 2011 @08:25AM (#34903572)
    Hang on, so a superseded, widely meh-rated / derided OS, is the key to web-filtering? As the saying goes, might as well buy a jumbo jet for the peanuts...
    • by Zouden (232738)

      They didn't investigate Windows 7; presumably this investigation was started when Vista was the newest OS, though that's a very long time to compile a report. In any case, the conclusion was that Vista's inbuilt parental controls are better than most other 3rd party filtering software, and Mac OS X has no parental controls.

      At a guess I'd say that Windows 7 would get the same result as it's kept most of Vista's features.

  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Monday January 17, 2011 @09:40AM (#34904000)
    Yah, nothing gets past the Vista black screen...
  • It looks like they're only considering options that install into a browsing computer. That leaves some highly-rated solutions like Dan's Guardian [dansguardian.org] off the list.

  • Given that the test included only two operating systems [europa.eu] and the other one (MAC-OS) beat Vista this is hardly a result to be proud of. Its a bit like saying you compared a Tata Nano [tatamotors.com], a Volkwagen Golf and a load of other forms of transport for motorway cruising (push-bikes, wheelbarrows, etc) and the Tata Namo came in the top 3.
  • As someone who espoused the virtues of protecting your children online with the proper tools and configuring them, without barring them from using the computer, I found that Windows Vista made a huge leap forward in terms of integrating online safety with an operating system. Sadly, with Windows 7, Microsoft removed this integration from the OS, removed some abilities and made it a downloadable aspect of Windows Live Essentials while downgrading it's functionality.

    With a properly configured Windows Vista
  • Really.

    Since the computer is basically unusable with Vista, all pernicious web content is unaccessible from it. Along with the rest.

    But yeah, our children are safe.

    Replacing your computer with a big rock on your desk also works as a great web filter.

    • but I realize Slashdot isn't interested in benchmarks when it comes to taking cheap shots at M$. Let's try to get in a few more Vista bashes while we can.
      • by kikito (971480)

        A Vista system that is prepared to run Crysis is, obviously, not a web-safe environment.

        It's worse still: Children are exposed to the malicious violence of videogames, which rots their brains and makes them violent, addicted, and psychotic.

        You should replace your computer with a rock immediately. Think of your children.

        (While you are at it, send me your then-underused computer so it can be properly purified)

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