Q

What can be done to block adult images in search engine results?

What steps can be taken to ensure that children cannot access pornographic images through Google on their school's internet connection? Mike Rothman explains the options and the inherent difficulties.

I am a schoolteacher and our students will often use Google to search for adult images. I know search engines have several features that enable you to block certain sites, but that feature can easily be turned off. Also, a content filter will not block search engine sites because they aren't rated as banned. What can be done to block these types of images in search results?
I wish there was an easy answer to this request. As the parent of school-age children, this is certainly a concern of mine, since kids tend to be pretty industrious and creative when they want to get access to stuff they shouldn't.

A browser default can be set for Google to have SafeSearch turned on (I believe you can do this within IE for all

users via a Group Policy Object), but that is easy to get around for a moderately savvy student.

To date, the only answer I know of is to use brute force and that is to block all access to Google images. A Web-filtering rule can be set on the network's gateway or Web proxy to prevent access to that site. Of course, that totally turns off Google image searches and all of the students suffer. That's also not really an answer because there are quite a few search engines that will pull images from Google search and preventing access to all of them isn't an option.

So, in short, there is no easy answer, other than monitoring the students and ensuring discipline is handed down strongly and swiftly when students use the Internet in ways they shouldn't.

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This was first published in February 2008

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