We know China blocks many Google services. In fact, the communist government reminded us why it does so just this week. No surprises there. But what if I told you that some schools in the U.S. may have to block Google?
The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires schools and libraries receiving federal E-rate funding to block or filter "pictures that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors" and to "adopt and implement an Internet safety policy" addressing minors' access to inappropriate material on the Internet, as well as minors' use of e-mail, instant messaging, social networking or other forms of electronic communication. However, according to Read Write Web, Google's encrypted search does not allow results to be filtered or blocked.
And as writer Audrey Watters explains, blocking Google altogether would put many schools in an awkward position, given that other services they use (Google Docs and Apps for Education, for instance) also reside at www.google.com. Google is working on a fix, according spokesperson Kat Eller, who told Read Write Web:
We're aware that encrypted search can create difficulties for some educational institutions using other Google services. We're very sorry for the inconvenience, and are working to identify a solution...
In the meantime, network security specialists like Lightspeed Systems are also doing their best to address the issues. As a temporary solution, the company suggests blocking only the encrypted searches, or redirecting them to Microsoft's Bing. Google's Eller also suggested temporarily enabling the SafeSearch lock feature.
No, the consequences of this glitch are not as severe as those attributed to privacy flaws in Google Buzz, but it's another example of Google launching a new service in beta without thinking through and addressing potential problems first.