Proposed Controls on Web Access

UCU LA hears of a “new project to introduce web-filtering arrangements. Web filtering is a control which automatically prevents staff and students from accessing websites which are known to disseminate information which is offensive, discriminatory, offensive (sic), illegal or which breaches University guidelines.”

Management have to date not approached UCU regarding this matter, and whilst we recognise that there is an absolute case for ensuring that illegal materials are not being deliberately accessed, we remain concerned that there is the clear potential for curtailing access to controversial material for a range of legitimate reasons (e.g. research purposes).

Moreover, at this stage it is not clear whether safeguards will be put in place to ensure that any filter is not used by management to contain uncomfortable news or unwanted media attention regardless of its legitimacy.

On a more general note it seems that the University continues with an apparent reluctance to consult on a range of matters to which staff may be able to make a positive contribution.

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One thought on “Proposed Controls on Web Access

  1. The following response has been received from the IT Risk & Security Manager:
    Today we are planning to switch on web filtering for sites categorised as ‘security risk’ – this is in response to some recent serious security incidents that have impacted staff. It is intended that these sites will remain blocked unless wrongly categorised i.e. we will not be able to grant any exception. The communication around this is contained in the staff briefing.
    In addition to this, and as part of a one month pilot that was agreed some months ago by Senate and Council, we are also looking at filtering websites that come under the following categories:
    • Adult/ Mature content
    • Potentially liable
    The pilot will assess the impact this may have on staff and students. The consultation and communication around this are expected to go out in the next couple of weeks, prior to the web filtering of these categories being implemented. We acknowledge that there may be legitimate reasons why some people may require access to some of these sites, particularly where they are undertaking research projects, and to allow for this we are introducing a process for managing legitimate exceptions – this will be outlined in the communications.
    I hope this provides some reassurance that we are not arbitrarily introducing web filtering for all websites, but if you would like some further information or indeed would like to discuss further in person please let me know.

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