Search giant Google has modified its "SafeSearch" feature, which has removed most pornographic, or explicit content from its image search results. First reported on news-sharing site Reddit, hundreds of users have reacted angrily to the move. The new options only appear to affect Google.com for now, whereas other regional sites -- such as Google.co.uk -- have not yet changed.
The changes to SafeSearch now remove the "on", "moderate" and "off" settings, and instead offer the option to "filter explicit content," which will remove any such content identified as such, regardless of how specific the searches are. Those with a Google account can also "lock SafeSearch" to prevent children or those at work from accidentally stumbling across inappropriate content.
Because a "safety mode" option is available in most major Internet search engines, businesses and schools often think they have the protection they need from inappropriate content delivered over their networks. However the safe search option is not enough to ensure employees and students are safe. These built-in safe search capabilities like Google Safe Search need to be set for each browser and are only as effective as the loopholes they introduce.
In an education setting many teachers and students find safe search options overly restrictive for example not allowing access to some classic literature sites based on perhaps an inappropriate filtering policy setting. A flexible and powerful web filtering solution will allow the user to easily fine tune policies eliminating the frustration caused by being overly restrictive. Schools using web filtering technology know exactly what is going on in real-time on any school computer inside or outside the school firewall. This means they’re protecting the school from legal threats and protecting students from “accidental” exposure to inappropriate content.
Employers often don’t realise that companies can be held liable for the on line activities of their employees for example, a case involving a company employee accessing child pornography resulted in a New Jersey court ruling that the company could be liable for damages suffered by any innocent third parties if it was proven that the company in question had failed to investigate reports that an employee was viewing child pornography online at work. Doe v. XYC Corp., (2005).
While claims against employers for their employees Internet misconduct may not ultimately result in a ruling of liability, the exposure is still very damaging for the company. The case highlighted emphasize the importance of managing employee Internet activity in order to minimize that liability.
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