XMission encourages parents to actively participate in their children's Internet experience. For many, that includes setting up web content filtering on family computers, smartphones, and other connected devices. Such filters can help you and your children best enjoy education and entertainment on your connected devices but we must stress that technology can never replace a parent at your child's side when they're online.
How does content filtering work?
Traditional online filters use "proxy" software to automatically process all incoming content. Originally, proxy filtering was used to simply speed up access to web pages by locally storing copies of popular web pages but once the Internet became more popular, some proxy filters were modified to provide content filtering. Content filters reference white lists and black lists but also automatically inspect things like text and image filenames from a web page to determine whether or not a site is appropriate for the computer user. Ideally, the person will be able to access everything they need to but anything inappropriate will be transparently filtered out.
S.B. 134: “Materials Harmful to Minors Amendments”
Concerned that consumers were unaware of content filtering services, the Utah State Legislature in 2018 passed S.B. 134, “Materials Harmful to Minors Amendments”. The 2018 amendments mandate that service providers “before December 30, 2018, notify in a conspicuous manner all of the service provider’s consumers with a Utah residential address that the consumer may request” that the provider itself filter material harmful to minors or do so by "engaging a third party to provide" filtering services or by “referring a consumer to a third-party that provides” commercially reasonable filtering services. Utah Code. Ann. § 76-10-1231(3)(b).
Upon assessing all available options, and the proliferation of various connected devices most families now use, XMission has determined it best to provide a web page with detailed information about third party solutions which are readily available so our customers can determine which options are best for their families. That required notification links to this web page.
Does XMission provide content filtering?
Not anymore. For many years we provided a web content filter called DansGuardian which was a free and readily available solution for all XMission customers after they read the DansGuardian Disclaimer. Unfortunately, in recent years that software hasn't kept up with the ever-changing and growing internet so we no longer recommend it.
What content filtering options does XMission recommend?
As of January 1st, 2019 XMission is required by Utah law to provide content filtering and/or recommend filtering options to our customers. Since the content filtering solution we provided in the past is no longer sufficient we instead recommend customers review and consider one of the many options available on the market to find the one that best fits their needs.
- Zift - Intended for families and supports the many connected devices they might use to access the Internet including iPhone and Android smartphones. Both free and premium paid versions available. Zift acquired the popular Net Nanny content filtering company and includes it for free with purchase of the premium package.
- iPhone - Apple's built in content filtering might sufficiently fulfill your family's needs.
- Android Devices
- Browser Search Results - Your web browser and search engine are good places to start with content filtering
- Enable Google's Safe Search on your devices
What about business owners?
Most media and legislation attention has focused on concerns about web content and children but there are products written specifically for businesses.
Are there other options?
Absolutely. Whatever you decide is best for your family, remember that technology can only provide part of the solution. If you do use a content filter, remember that some legitimate content will also be accidentally blocked and some sites you might not consider appropriate will likely still get through. This is part of why we recommend you spend time with your children when they're at the computer. Of course, you just might enjoy each other's company too.