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Dell statement on school’s web blocking suggests low traffic on anti-gun sites

What if you built a website and nobody came?
What if you built a website and nobody came?
D. Codrea/Photo of Brady Campaign website

Dell’s SonicWall content filtering service did not conspire to block websites promoting gun rights from being accessed by a Connecticut school’s computers, the company’s executive director for security product management claimed Thursday on the official corporate blog.

The inability of a student to access firearms rights-related sites to do research for a debate on “gun control,” while being able to access anti-gun advocacy sites, led to a “blunt letter” from the Second Amendment Foundation’s general counsel Miko Tempski to Superintendent Jody Ian Goeler at Connecticut’s Regional School District 14, Seattle Gun Rights Examiner Dave Workman reported Friday.

Also reported blocked were Christian and conservative sites, while “progressive” and Islamic sites were accessible. The school put the onus on Dell, saying they would investigate the filtering service and report back when they had more information. For its part, Dell would have none of that, and returned the responsibility back to school administrators.

“A school had a policy to block a category of sites rated as Politics/Advocacy Groups at their site using our content filtering product,” Dell’s Patrick Sweeney explained, noting the product does not automatically default to that filter. “The school actively turned it on.

“Further, the policy at this school allowed ‘Not Rated’ sites to be accessed, Sweeney continued, noting “Most school IT administrators block the Not Rated category since millions of new *** and malware sites come online each month and it is very important to block them until they can be rated.

“An automated numerical frequency algorithm is used to determine the order of the queue for previously unrated sites,” Sweeney elaborated. “Sites that receive the highest traffic are placed at the top of the queue, and conversely sites that have low traffic volume are lower in the queue.”

“The conservative sites have more people visiting them than the liberal sites do, so we took the time to give them ratings; whereas the liberal sites are so unpopular, we just couldn't justify the manpower to visit them and rate them!” a comment poster at The War on Guns blog, identifying himself as “a long-time SonicWALL partner and network administrator ... serving dozens of client companies” wrote, paraphrasing and adding a perspective to Sweeney’s explanation.

If that is so, as Quantcast measurements for the Brady Campaign seem to indicate, it adds further corroboration to observations made before about popular grassroots support for the right to keep and bear arms, vs. the “Astroturf” nature of “gun control” groups, long on funding from citizen disarmament-demanding billionaires and wealthy foundations, but short on ground troops. And Sweeney’s inappropriately snarky dismissal of “conspiracy” notwithstanding, perhaps that’s true as far as Dell is concerned, but it’s hard to believe school IT administrators were unaware of the effect their settings had on access capabilities.

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