Content control software, also commonly known as web filtering software, is software which is designed and optimized to determine what content can be viewed by the user. This software is particularly relevant to information supplied by a web browser.
In many respects, censorship of the internet is deemed to be harmful. Governments with oppressive regimes may use content control software to prevent their citizens from viewing material they consider objectionable. This can mean the censorship of perfectly legitimate websites including organisations advocating human rights, or even search engines such as Google. Even where a government has not directly enforced internet censorship they may apply pressure to internet providers to filter sites.
However, like any city, the web has neighborhoods, some safer and some very dangerous. The web hosts sites with pornographic material. Clearly, parents will want to make every effort to ensure that their children are not exposed to such material. Whilst content control software does not replace the need for parental supervision it adds an additional layer of protection. Furthermore, the internet can have profound effects on an individual’s social and mental life. While the internet has enormous educational benefits, it can encourage excessive computer use that interferes with daily life. Let control software dictate how long a computer can be used.
These are two areas where parental control software plays an important role in enabling parents to protect their family from undesirable content, and to make sure that the internet does not become an addiction. There are very few Linux content control solutions which are high quality and maintained.
Now, let’s explore the 2 content control applications at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.
|Content Control Software|
|E2guardian||Web content filter works in proxy, transparent or icap server modes|
|Privoxy||Privacy Enhancing Proxy|
We used to recommend WebCleaner, WebContentControl, and Gnome Nanny, but sadly they haven’t seen any development for many years. And there are better solutions.
If you are worried about the risks posed by the internet for children, we suggest you adopt the following principles:
- If the children are young, do not allow them unsupervised access to the internet.
- For teenagers, allow them internet in their rooms, but with supervision afterwards of what they surfed. Any sign of visiting unsuitable websites, or evidence that the computer has been cleaned would result in the loss of their internet access for a defined period.
- A restrictive timer in the router, whereby internet is only permitted for specific MAC addresses at specific times of the day, OR
- block access to everything on the internet except for the IP addresses/websites listed in the /etc/hosts file.
This article was last updated on 18 February 2019.
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