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Ethics of Proxy Servers? 194

Posted by Cliff
from the a-double-edged-sword dept.
Mav asks: "I was recently asked to host a website for free in return for a lot of advertising. After querying them about how they knew the site would produce traffic they stated the site was going to be running PHPProxy (an open source web proxy). The traffic was a result of him and his contacts (nearly one thousand of them) using the site to bypass his school's firewall in order to view their MySpace pages and get access to their MSN messengers. Given all the attention social networking sites have recently received and the various laws attempting to block or control access to them I feel guilty and unsure making this available. Are there legal implications that I need to worry about? Could I be held liable if one of the students got in trouble? Most importantly, what's the moral thing to do?"
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Ethics of Proxy Servers?

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  • by stinerman (812158) <nathan...stine@@@gmail...com> on Saturday February 17, 2007 @07:24AM (#18050152) Homepage
    You need to find out for yourself what the moral thing is. I believe it is moral to help people gain access to information, so I'd do it. Do you?

    As far as the legal aspects, I doubt there are any laws in your jurisdiction regarding setting up a proxy to get around a school's filtering software, but then again, you can always be charged for contributing to the delinquency of a minor for anything these days.
    • Do you think ads are really going to pay for your bandwidth bills?
      How long until your site is blocked by the school?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plover (150551) *

      I believe it is moral to help people gain access to information

      As do I. However, helping doesn't imply providing the facilities.

      Rather than host a proxy yourself, offer to help them find other proxies. Offer to teach them about torpark. But mostly teach them how to figure the problem out for themselves. As they encounter this problem repeatedly throughout their lives, they'll be in a better position to recognize it and fight it.

      If myspace or facebook is important enough to them, they'll have the motivation to learn how to bypass the firewalls themselves. If

  • by ScrewTivo (458228) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @07:26AM (#18050176) Homepage
    I would get a lawyer. The world has gone insane!
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pseudosero (1037784) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @07:27AM (#18050180) Journal
    If you're even bothering to ask this question, then i believe you might not want to do it. School filters are annoying; the favor you would be doing is immense. But as to whether or not it is moral or not: is P2P, bittorrent, are pirates and people who share moral? Yes, question with a question. Why are you asking this question. ?.
    • by mysticgoat (582871) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @11:47AM (#18052058) Homepage Journal

      If you're even bothering to ask this question, then i believe you might not want to do it.

      Mod parent up, please.

      It appears that author of TFA feels they face a moral dilemma and seeks the opinion of a peer group for an answer. Does anyone else see a problem with this behavior??

      Not everyone has a strong moral compass, and that's okay. Not everyone needs one. And in any case we know so little about how morals and such are internalized that we can't even study the subject objectively, let alone provide anyone with a procedure for how to strengthen theirs.

      Living without morals or ethics is not a great hindrance. For example, the last 20 odd years have shown that a man who is not ethically or morally encumbered can become the richest person on Earth. So don't worry about having a weak moral sense; there are other ways to lead a good life.

      For instance, there are all kinds of WWJD models. Choose a couple of people who have made tough moral/ethical decisions that you admire and study them until you could predict what they would do when confronted with any of the tough problems you bump into. Then do the same thing as they would do. To an outsider, it would appear that you have a strong moral compass when all you are really doing is relying on your ability to imagine how some Good Guy would behave in the given situation. Heh, maybe that's all there is to this morality business— who could tell? It's pretty much a black box thing.

      Another approach is to forego morals and ethics and all that internal crap that gets in the way of doing the clever thing. Instead, study the laws that apply directly to you, and the reactions of the neighborhoods you find yourself in, and determine from those studies what the boundaries of acceptable behavior are. Then give yourself the freedom to do anything you want within those boundaries. It isn't moral or ethical, and you'll end up with a bunch of people who don't like you very much, but it will keep you out of trouble, mostly. And you can become the richest man in the world using this approach— so it isn't such a bad way to live. Maybe.

      I think the question author of TFA really wants to ask is whether the slashdot community would find him acceptable if it learned that he was doing this proxy bypass of high school rules. This is a legitimate question, and should have been asked outright, instead of wrapping it in a moral cloak.

      I have a mild dislike for people who attempt to ferret out my likes and dislikes by posing these kinds of substitutiary "moral dilemma" questions. My feeling is that they should grow a pair and ask the hard question directly, providing specifics of the situation, rather than playing dumbass "would you still like me if" games.

      My answer to the question that I think TFA would have asked if it wasn't pussyfooting around so much is this: the school has an obligation to the student and his family to act in "loco parentis" (look it up). If the school has banned MySpace, then providing a mechanism for students to get around that ban is equivalent to assisting a kid who has been grounded by his parents in slipping out the back door. I would want to know if the school's action was blocking all student access to certain web sites (constituting undue censorship) or simply causing students the inconvenience of having to wait until they got home or to the library or a cybercafe before they could satisfy their MySpace habit. Unless the case for undue censorship could be made, I would think that anyone assisting students in getting around the school's ban was a jerk. If there is a censorship issue, I would think that anyone profiting from the situation was reprehensible jerk.

      That's just my opinion. There are a lot of BG idolizers on slashdot so I'm sure there are a lot of alternate opinions.

      • Boarding schools? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples (727027)

        I would want to know if the school's action was blocking all student access to certain web sites (constituting undue censorship) or simply causing students the inconvenience of having to wait until they got home

        In some schools, the students can go home only every six weeks if that often. On-campus housing is more common at universities, but some K-12 schools do operate this way. Is there a way for a given high school student's parent to override this block?

        or to the library

        Some of these proposed bans apply to school libraries and to public libraries as well.

      • No, mod parent up. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Saturday February 17, 2007 @05:17PM (#18054842) Homepage Journal
        This is perhaps one of the most balanced and insightful things I've read on Slashdot recently. Ironic that it's sitting at +3.

        Anyway, I think your analysis of morality is right on; there is very little point in discussing morality, at least outside of Philosophy classes, because people approach it from radically different angles. People can take the same action for very different reasons, even if they both end up doing the "right thing" as viewed by a third party.

        Also, your comment about what's essentially a 'popularity contest' question cloaked in a moral dilemma is right on. If I had to guess, I'd say about 90% of people's "moral dilemmas" are really nothing more than ways of gauging the relative acceptability of various courses of action within their peer groups, and trying to figure out what's going to score them the most points (or damage them the least). This question in particular reeks of "would people hate me if I did x?"

        As to the question at hand, I think providing the service would be a bad idea, but for different reasons; students need to learn to solve problems themselves, and not wait for some deus ex machina in the form of an ad-supported service to solve it for them. Left to their own devices, some enterprising young geek will figure out how to get around the filtering by themselves. It's not as if it's very hard -- a CGI reverse-proxy is one way, SSHing to a home computer on Port 80 (with the -D option) is another, there are lots of other methods -- and once they work it out, they can be the heroes of the day to the other MySpace-loving students. By providing a commercial filter-avoidance service, you are stealing the fire from some student who might figure it out themselves. But more importantly than one or two students, you are teaching all the students who use it, that all they have to do when they run into something that's a pain, is wait for someone else to solve the problem and hand it to them. It's the difference between letting them understand that the solution comes from someone else like them, who happens to understand a bit about computers, versus a solution that seems to come down from On High, by way of an anonymous web site ridden with ads.

        I am a firm believer that in order to become productive, fully-mature adults, young people need to develop a healthy cynicism towards, and distrust of, authority. Otherwise, they're nothing but little brainless larval consumers, parroting back what they've memorized, and doing what they're told. They need to learn to break the rules on their own, and that they can break the rules on their own. Replacing one authority (whoever runs the filtering) for another (whoever runs the ad-supported reverse-proxy) isn't instructive. Placing an idiotic barrier (like all web-filtering is) in between them and something they want, and letting them get over it themselves, is.
      • by sheldon (2322)

        Living without morals or ethics is not a great hindrance. For example, the last 20 odd years have shown that a man who is not ethically or morally encumbered can become the richest person on Earth. So don't worry about having a weak moral sense; there are other ways to lead a good life.


        Or you just look at the Whitehouse today and realize you can be a man completely bereft of morals and ethics and become President.

      • by pla (258480)
        I think the question author of TFA really wants to ask is whether the slashdot community would find him acceptable if it learned that he was doing this proxy bypass of high school rules.

        Excellent post, but I have one criticism...

        Morality means checking which way the societal wind blows. The FP author did exactly that, on a topic that remains very much a grey area in the modern Western world.

        We oppose Chinese or Iranian governmental censorship, yet irrationally believe in doing almost anything "for t
      • For example, the last 20 odd years have shown that a man who is not ethically or morally encumbered can become the richest person on Earth.
        Hmm. That may not be a position you wish to advocate, when you consider that what you're advocating is essentially sociopathic behavior (which, while it may lead to massive wealth in the short term, can only end up a destructive burden on the society in the long term).
    • Go ahead and set up one more proxy. We have dozens blocked, and if another one starts getting used we will block it as well. We have a responsibility to these kids to provide a safe environment, and we also have to block things that use too much bandwidth.

      If the school is actually monitoring their filter usage, you might just give kids a day or two to get around the filter. I don't think it is really a question of morals as much as enforcement.

      I must say though, that mathcookbook.com evaded me for weeks.
  • School? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ReidMaynard (161608)
    Is this a high school? Jr High? University?
    I think if the expected student is a minor (HS or Jr High) I would pass.
  • Proxy = good (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Echnin (607099) <p3s46f102 AT sneakemail DOT com> on Saturday February 17, 2007 @07:37AM (#18050222) Homepage
    Next semester I will be studying in China and I'm looking forward to experiencing the Great Firewall firsthand... or perhaps not. I expect I'm probably going to need to use a proxy to visit a lot of sites. It really depends on the situation; in my situation I would say that a proxy is entirely ethical.
  • I wouldn't do it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nahdude812 (88157) * on Saturday February 17, 2007 @07:41AM (#18050248) Homepage
    I wouldn't do it for two reasons. First, if the school moderately has their act together, they'll be watching their outbound traffic, see a big spike to the proxy site, and you'll end up on the block list inside of a week anyway (which might be less time than it takes you to get everything set up).

    Second, I believe that when school kids are on school property using school equipment, the school should get to decide what they're allowed to do. My employer sure has this right, and it's also certainly a firing offense for me to bypass it. I salute schools that don't let kids play on the Internet when they're at school and should instead be learning. Sorry, school time is time that students should be using for, I dunno, learning. MySpace and MSN don't qualify, if this is really what they're looking to get to. So I wouldn't do it on principle (though of course realizing the kids will probably manage to find it somewhere else anyway).

    Many people complain about schools, but things which I see as reasonable attempts to keep the kids on target are hollared at as censorship or some other poorly-fitting term which is basically the equivalent of saying, "We think kids should be allowed to do whatever they want, but we also think you should make them learn material they don't want to at the same time."
    • Re:I wouldn't do it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @08:16AM (#18050452) Homepage
      I worked in a high school's computer tech center for a few years. I'm not a lawyer, though.

      In terms of legality, you're in the clear for that express purpose only (visiting MySpace.) Anything else might make you liable. I would suggest a click-through.

      Also, if the school is anything like the one I worked at, the extent of their blocking will be harvesting visited URLs and looking to see if there are any frequent hits at interesting domain names. However, we never caught small *.mine.nu-type DynDNS addresses unless a teacher explicitly told us, and our job was only to enforce teachers' policies, not make up new ones.
      • >>> "In terms of legality, you're in the clear for that express purpose only (visiting MySpace.) "

        I think you're way off here. IANAL either but I used to work in intellectual property (patents not copyright however).

        You're taking a published work (myspace pages) and creating a derivative of it (myspace pages with your ads instead of theirs). You're undoubtedly opening yourself up to a lawsuit here.

        In addition, myspace (I gather) now have agreements to compensate original rights holders for bootleg
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @09:16AM (#18050774) Homepage Journal
      ``I salute schools that don't let kids play on the Internet when they're at school and should instead be learning.''

      You're supposing that the things that these schools are trying to block access to are not learning. By contrast, most people I know who are good with computers got there by doing things that authorities (parents, schools, ...) did not want them to do.

      I'm not saying limiting what children can do is a Bad Thing, but you have to consider that, by restricting them, you limit what can go wrong _and_ what can go right. Limiting bright kids in their development is an effective way of turning them into trouble kids.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by westlake (615356)
        I'm not saying limiting what children can do is a Bad Thing, but you have to consider that, by restricting them, you limit what can go wrong _and_ what can go right. Limiting bright kids in their development is an effective way of turning them into trouble kids.

        These are decisions for schools to make.

        These are decisions for parents to make. They are not decisions for you to make. This is where the Geek goes wrong.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nahdude812 (88157) *

        You're supposing that the things that these schools are trying to block access to are not learning.

        I trust the school to make this decision more than I trust the kids. At work, if a site is blocked by our proxy which is legitimate, we can request that it be unblocked, and typically this is done within the same day, often within an hour of the request (unless its borderline, then it is escalated). I'm presuming that if a student contacted the administration with a compelling reason to unblock a site, that

      • The bright trouble kids are the best. They keep a list of who'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes.
    • by fruitbane (454488)
      Unless it's a private school the school property is also public property. While I'm not sure I'd be willing to make this argument personally, it could be argued that if the filters, in any way, are not in the best interest of the children or the public then bypassing them is, if not an act of public good, an inconsequential act otherwise. However, the public property aspect may have an impact on the rules of the game. If it's a private school, the private property aspect could have an even bigger impact.
      • by westlake (615356)
        it could be argued that if the filters, in any way, are not in the best interest of the children or the public then bypassing them is, if not an act of public good, an inconsequential act otherwise

        judges have this odd notion that the interests of the child are best served by listening to those who are responsible for his care and instruction.

        not to the buttinski who thinks he knows better.

        • by fruitbane (454488)

          judges have this odd notion that the interests of the child are best served by listening to those who are responsible for his care and instruction.

          Given some of what at least a few school boards have been guilty of lately, and what some spectacularly "gifted" parents managed to pull on a regular basis, I can't say that I would necessarily agree with all judges on this matter. That said, I did specify that I didn't necessarily personally agree with the alternative take on things that I offered.

        • judges have this odd notion that the interests of the child are best served by listening to those who are responsible for his care and instruction.
          Then do these filters have an option for a student to obtain parental permission to have a site unblocked from the student's account? And shouldn't all sites be unblocked once a senior turns 18?
          • And shouldn't all sites be unblocked once a senior turns 18?

            Why, do students suddenly gain the right to use Myspace on taxpayer-funded, government-supplied, equipment provided for educational purpose when they become legal adults? I'm confused.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I am legally required to be in school.

      If I am legally required to be in school and what I am learning is censored.

      Then how can I hope to learn the truth?
    • if the school moderately has their act together

      Could be. But in my experience, the kids more frequently have their act together than the school.

      Second, I believe that when school kids are on school property using school equipment, the school should get to decide what they're allowed to do.

      The big problem for me here isn't so much that the school's deciding what they get to do, but that a very flawed program is deciding what they get to do. My employer sure has the right to block my internet use, but they

    • Second, I believe that when school kids are on school property using school equipment, the school should get to decide what they're allowed to do.

      Yeah, if the kids want to browse the Internet, they should buy their own building! Umm, I mean no.

    • by Jjeff1 (636051)
      Exactamundo.
      In my case I monitor outgoing proxy logs for popular web sites. Proxy sites get are immediately blocked and any student using the site gets written up and has their account suspended for at least a week.
      The sites which tend to slip through are the low usage ones, and sites that masquerade [allaboutabe.com] as legitimate (hint, click on Abe in the upper left).
      To be honest, I could really care less about what content the students look at, I fix the computers, not teach. But every student sucking down bandwid
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 17, 2007 @07:53AM (#18050294)
    Dear Slashdot,

    Last night when I was standing in front of my local 7-11 waiting for my bus, two teenagers came up to me and asked me to buy them some beer. I like having a beer as much as the next guy, but is it ethical for me to buy it for them?
    • I would say use your judgement, especially if they're over 18. Legal? No.
    • by danimrich (584138)
      Bad comparison. Providing alcohol to people under the legal drinking age is expressly forbidden in many countries.
    • Wtf difference does it make if they are 1 day shy of 18?

      Morally/Ethically there is no difference.
      Legally, there is.

      It is up to every person to decide when and where those two intersect, and when they don't.
    • by Joebert (946227)

      Last night when I was standing in front of my local 7-11 waiting for my bus, two teenagers came up to me and asked me to buy them some beer. I like having a beer as much as the next guy, but is it ethical for me to buy it for them?

      Only if they buy you some, free beer trumps all.
  • Sounds bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by solevita (967690) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @08:03AM (#18050356)
    You didn't say what size school it was, but a thousand students? That could be an entire school. So, some kid has told you that his entire school wants to get round the filtering and wants you to help. How are they going to advertise this service without alerting parents or teachers? How can you be sure that one talkative student isn't going to tell her parent's that she can get on MySpace because "some computer guy is helping them out"? How long do you think it'll take those parents to report you as an online MySpace sex pest?

    Leave school stuff to school kids. If you really want to help them out, tell your friend about free proxies that he can find via google, or even better, TORpac. Even better still, tell the spoilt brats to wait until they get home. If you want to earn some more money, either work harder at your present job, or look for a new one.

    I don't want to sound blunt, but there's better ways of making a living than facilitating kid's "social networking".
    • by khallow (566160)

      I don't want to sound blunt, but there's better ways of making a living than facilitating kid's "social networking".

      Well, not everyone can be a firefighter. And it's not ignoble, like being a car salesman or lawyer.
  • It's up to you... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Helix150 (177049) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @08:05AM (#18050370)
    Legally, create an AUP which people must click through that basically says you wont use the site to do anything bad, surf porn, etc. IANAL tho.

    Morally though, that only you can answer. You bothered to ask, so that may be your answer right there. Personally I think school filters are annoying and pointless, because everybody assumes that the second you turn 18 you somehow become magically mature enough to handle porn/violence/cigarettes/lotteries, things which you apparently couldn't handle at 17.995. Schools just want to cover their butts and I can't say I blame them. However our society as a whole is increasingly becoming a nanny-state where people must be 'protected' from 'bad things' rather than educated about them and informed on how to protect themselves or make good choices.

    Realistically though, whoever runs IT on the school probably isn't stupid. If they see a bazillion hits to the same site they'll probably check it out, and figure out what it is. At that point it gets blocked. And if you don't use HTTPS, they can just traffic sniff it.

    What I would do is make the site go HTTPS immediately, and the resulting page looks like a search engine, and function like one with a google API or something. Have your friend encourage everybody to use it as a search engine as much as possible, so the resulting traffic spike doesn't look suspicious. However script it so if you search for a particular string of terms (IE the password of the week) it dumps the facade and takes you to the proxy page. Also have a cookie so if you manually punch in the address to the proxy page w/out first searching for the password, it takes you back to the search page. This should make it last quite a bit longer.
    • Legally, create an AUP which people must click through that basically says you wont use the site to do anything bad, surf porn, etc. IANAL tho.

      These are kids in school (assuming that means not adults) so it's unlikely that any click-through contract/disclaimer is valid anyway. IANALE.
  • by svunt (916464) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @08:06AM (#18050380) Homepage Journal
    There's a big difference between you doing this for some Chinese students who have 90% of the web blocked, but blocking myspace/messenger at schools is NOT about censorship, it's about saving PCs and bandwidth for people using those facilities for their fucking educations. There's no 'sticking it to the man' getting around a myspace block, you're not freeing the masses from tyranny, you're helping to fuck things up for people using school resources for school.

    My advice, don't be a dick, if people need their goddamned myspace they can buy a computer and an internet connection. I get sick and tired of waiting in a queue at uni to use the library catalogue because every 18 year old tool is busy "LOL ASL"ing away on the machines my fees pay for.

    Ah, that rant felt gooooood.

    • Excellent point about bandwidth and a political statement. Also, schools want to eliminate the ability to view what they deem, objectionable material. If you did not have some kind of proxy in schools, our children would be even further behind than the world at large. They would be surfing instead of learning . . . . er, maybe they do that already. I can't help but notice that the Europeans place less emphasis on censorship, period! I'll hedge a guess that the school-based proxy might be the exception,
  • IANAL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @08:08AM (#18050398) Journal

    So I won't comment on the legal aspects. Ask a lawyer.

    The moral aspects are easier, because you don't need a degree to argue ethics. Just an over inflated sense of self importance. Check.

    Is it moral to do X? Well, that depends, on you, the society you live in and how willing that society is to beat in your head for violating the morality of that society.

    Is it moral to have sex with your childeren and then kill them for your own pleasure? I think the general opinion is not.

    Is it moral to kill thousands of childeren each and every year because you like to drive to fast/drunk for your own pleasure? Look at the number of childeren killed year in year out because of dangerous driving and I think that the general opinion is yes. Except offcourse nobody will admit it.

    Morality is a complex thing and it seems to have a lot to do with whatever the "people" can be bothered to get upset about. Or rather a small group of people can be bothered to shout very loudly about without anyone else shouting back.

    It ain't even consistent. On a small scale people might agree on say restricting road speeds near schools, but if you suggest that the speed across the entire town is brought down to a safe limit, or even worse, put up camera's to enforce the speed limit, then you find yourselve with massive opposition. Or at least very loud and that surely means massive.

    At the moment you got a "thinkofthechilderen" movement who is very massive, or at least very loud. They say, that it ain't right to let childeren access places like myspace unrestricted. Are they right? Do they even represent a majority of the people? Do you consider what the majority considers to be right, to be right? Note that the "thinkofthechilderen" group can't seem to be bothered by the deaths in traffic wich outnumber the victims of sexual predators.

    I myself got the following problem with this idea.

    Not to long ago there was a police request for witnesses in a the free dutch newspaper metro or spits about a rape case. A woman returning from a date late at night had been assaulted and raped walking back alone. A comment by a collegue was that her boyfriend should have walked her back.

    In a way he was right except that he shouldn't be. Should women be restricted from were and when they can walk because some men are rapists?

    Should childeren be banned from socializing online because some people prey on them online?

    The next step in that logic is that they asked for it. This is the old sexist way of thinking wich I definitly think is amoral.

    So I don't think childeren should be prevented from accessing spaces like myspace. Restrict the criminals, not the victims.

    Is it then moral for you to break restrictions against childeren that can be considered by some to be morally wrong.

    Well, obviously not. The only thing that could be wrong if you consider breaking that restriction itself to be a morally wrong act.

    Like say, you consider it morally wrong to let someone starve to death but your only option would be to steal the food wich you also consider to be morally wrong. A choice of the lesser of two evils.

    But I find it hard to consider a proxy to myspace to be morally wrong on its own. Myspace may be wrong, but not on any moral grounds.

    Say you provide the access to these childeren. This results in them posting their details on myspace. Someone else uses these details to hunt one down and rape and kill them. Are you then morally to blaim?

    That depends on the morals of the person judging you.

    Is the boyfriend in the above real example to blaim for not escorting his girlfriend home? Is society as a whole? Is the girl? Or is it just the rapist and nobody else that should be held accountable for what happened?

    If you provide access you provide access for, what I would consider, a in itself harmless actions. There are plenty of safe ways to behave on myspace. You do not make these kids behave in an unsafe manner. Part of living is t

  • by subreality (157447) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @08:12AM (#18050428)
    What sounds better to you?

    * Children should be raised in a sheltered environment, so that they don't encounter controversial opinions they might not understand without the proper context.

    * Children should have free access to information, and shouldn't get a rose-tinted view of the world. The only way they'll get the context to complex issues is by being exposed to discussion about them.


    Or another pair:

    * The law should be respected regardless of if you agree with it, because it's the foundation of civilization.

    * What's right and what's legal aren't always the same, and I prefer to do what's right.


    I think that someone who believes in any of the opinions above, and lives by them, can be a moral person. You need to think about what YOU believe in. We can't answer that for you.
  • In this day and age, I'd say it's best for you to cut your losses and run, legality notwithstanding. The laws are so muddied that it wouldn't surprise me in the least if you could and would be held liable for the students actions. It sounds like this third party is doing something illegal to generate traffic. He is even soliciting criminal activity from a student body. This would give me pause to even trust that individual.
  • Where there are loads of free proxies [proxies.tv] already available.

    Many will even pass through https traffic. Personally I use MegaProxy [megaproxy.com] so the banks NetCop can't snoop, but even the free sites are feature rich these days.

    I'd say just stay away unless your friend can offer up a better explanation.
  • Proxy = good, as other people have pointed out information is supposed to be available to everyone all of the time.

    Giving something to someone's child allowing them to circumvent parental authority is bad. The school's authority? I'm kind of split down the middle. Legally, you'd be screwed and could be held accountable if you're a US citizen.

    A kid would ask for a proxy to use his myspace account meanwhile dreaming of the gigs of porn he's going to download on county bandwidth. We're rather evolved, but givi
  • I'm not a lawyer.

    Most states have laws against "Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor". If I were making a buck off a kid who I knew used my service to do something illegal, or even possibly if I knew that it was reasonable to believe that some kid using my service would eventually do, then this law would apply to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 17, 2007 @09:07AM (#18050712)
    While I will not answer to the legal or moral aspects of this question, working as a system/network/security admin in a K-8 school district I do have an opinion.

    As with many places these days IT departments (if there even is a department) in k-12 educational facilities are understaffed, under-funded and over worked. This is not a complaint this is just stating the facts. There are several districts that I can think of off the top of my head that do not have a full time technician or administrator. The care of IT systems is left to the librarian, math teacher or whomever is the most "technically inclined" teacher or staff person in the building. They will get paid a couple grand to do this as well as their main job of teaching. The main work is left to consultants who might be good. But nevertheless are only onsite when called for. This is not the description of some poor district in "Middle America" either. (No offense to the poor districts in Middle America) For the districts that or fortunate enough to have an IT department the staff is busy with the maintenance of the districts networks, systems, training users, etc. There is little time left to monitor the browsing habits of a 14 year old. We rely on content filters with updated rule sets and teachers who spot a kid doing something bad in class.

    I would humbly request that you do not open yet another proxy. That will eventually end up on my content filters list. But students these days are not looking for free access to information. They are looking to bully the kid next to them. They are looking to surf sites that no 14 year old should be on or play games during class because they are too important to learn.

    I am all for students pushing the edge and learning. I applaud the first kid who figured out that a proxy would work on content filters. If they figured out why I would even be happier. Heck I would explain it to them if they asked.

    Hopefully someone reads this and figures out that it would be nicer to help out the school district in their area versus work against it. It has a hard enough time educating your children or friends. Why make it work harder than it reasonably needs to?
  • If the school is tech savvy, they will block you after a few days, and your server will be a nice hunk of software without anything to do. If they're not, I would worry about the school administration contacting the police - they will look for ways to jam you up.

    I don't know of any basic theory of civil law which would allow a claim by the school - but local laws can add to that, and I'm not faimilar with the DMCA or the child protection laws.. but I would look to those as sources of trouble as well.

    If th
  • by sjs132 (631745) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @09:58AM (#18051094) Homepage Journal
    I work for a HS... We have filters and such because we are REQUIRED by law... Because somewhere along the line, the overwhelming majority of your parents thought it was a great idea to keep you safe from all the CRAP that is 99% of the internet.

    It Pisses me off to no end when little snaughts think they are hot just because they can find a proxy and surf myspace or adult sites.

    (Yes, after 7 years in HS and 5 yrs before in college support, I've grown cynical of the crap that is turned out as brains...)

    MySpace and other social networking sights (yes, this is gonna be a blanket statement) are worthless and BAD for children. I don't care about the age 18 thing.... If you need "faceless" friends that bad, then purchase your own pipe at home and surf from there... but considering that we are ALL paying for the internet in schools (Universal Cost recovery Fee/tax on phone bills) then it is a waste of my time and the money of the tax payers for you to be using it to watch the latest viral video advertisment from coke or pepsi. (Product placement... watch for it...then ask how many of those vids are "REAL") Or looking for boobies on myspace or google images.

    I admit that there are some legit uses for a proxy... like if you live in China or some country where access to books and information is banned by the gov, etc.. BUT, using it to bypass a school filter is NOT a legit reason.

    The second reason the filter exists is because you should be LEARNING! Not learning how to hack/bypass things, but shit that matters.... This is one of the reasons (IMHO) why we rank so low on the global education scale... The internet should NOT be in cassrooms, Computers SHOULD NOT be in classrooms. Maybe a computer teacher with overhead and possibly smartboard, but nothing else... Have a few labs for the classes teaching computer software @ HS Level and a bank in the library... As it is now, 4/5 computers per room results = teacher that cant watch and guide the kids to use the internet in any responsible manner.

    Get a life... Go HOME to get your vids/kicks and actually LEARN in school... When you get to college, you can waste YOUR parents money on MUDS and MOOS and I don't give a crap. (Ok, that gave away what I did in college...)

    Most important, RESPECT the schools computers, we are just trying to do our job, and follow the rules that have been laid down by your parents! (And they supposedly care and love you...)

  • First there is the questionable ethics of providing filtered sites to high-school students, things like MSN messenger and MySpace, which is much in the same league as cell phones, and are used for similar purposes, which are frequently quite OK, but which also might include bullying, and this might be one of the reasons why the school has put up the limitations to begin with.

    Going around this filtering seems to be similar in spirit to aiding and abetting a crime. I don't find this particularly ethical at

  • The ethics here are actually pretty easy. This desire to block a particular website, is someone else's rule, not yours. Nobody ever asked you if it was a good idea; you had even less representation in this decision, than your distant Senator in Washington who doesn't give a damn about you.

    There's nothing wrong with not playing along with someone else's game. Dude, lose the guilt.

    The risk, however, is substantial, unless your proxy is really dedicated to providing access to that one website. I'd cautio

    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      "There's nothing wrong with not playing along with someone else's game. Dude, lose the guilt."
      How about this. The bandwidth and the computers belong to the school. Doesn't the School have the right to decide how it's resources are used? While your self centered view is interesting it is also pretty anti-social. These kids could access these sites at home and let's face it MySpace is pretty much a vast wasteland without any real value. If you want to set up a free cyber cafe and let kids use your computers a
      • How about this. The bandwidth and the computers belong to the school. Doesn't the School have the right to decide how it's resources are used?

        If it's a public school, I'd say no. But let's assume it's a private school. Does a private school have the right to decide how its resources are used? Not if it involves forcing third parties to enforce its policies. If a private school wants to stop its students from accessing Myspace, that's its right. But it's not the right of that school to force others to

        • by LWATCDR (28044)
          actually a public school does have the right. The elected school board decides. You can not take one of the drivers ed cars for a joy ride or borrow tools from the shop class over the weekend.
  • I was recently asked to host a website for free in return for a lot of advertising

    This sounds like this is purely a business thing, at which point I'd seriously question whether the ad revenue will cover the costs. Even if you don't get screwed by the school or parents (need to hire a lawyer, etc.) you are going to be providing x2 the bandwidth of anything they download, and I'd roughly estimate a click through rate of 0% on any adds, if they don't just block them completely, because if they could affor

  • Take a good look at the articles icon. See the man with the tape over his mouth? Is it moral to run an anonymous proxy? It is a moral imperative!
  • Mrs. Turgid teaches at a secondary school in England. The monkeys don't need proxies, they just go to google.de and search from there.

  • First of all, if your friend isn't savvy enough to set up his own proxy server....I mean, come on, it's a proxy server....he doesn't know enough to be safely gaming the system while he's at school.

    Second of all, unless you set up the proxy to only be MySpace, it will be a matter of hours before someone realizes they can surf to AnimalSex.com or something else...and minutes after that before someone like a teacher or administrator walks by the computer, sees it, and gets your server address, where upon you'

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I worked as a student technician at my highschool for the entire time before I graduated (four years). I worked doing everything and had seniority on most of the other people in the district. We're a fairly large district, my highschool had around 1600 people. I was paid, so it wasn't a volunteer thing.

    The IT people hated the filters more than anyone because we all thought it was pretty stupid. I setup a CGI based proxy for a few of my friends and told my boss about it, my boss told his boss, pretty soo
  • Send me the relevant info, and lets talk about how much I'd make in advertising.

    Seriously, while I wouldn't recommend others do it, I would have no problem doing it myself. And if I can make an extra few bucks a month without putting forth much effort, I'm all for it.

    We're not talking about buying kids beer, or drugs, or pr0n. We're talking about helping them with their popularity (apparently myspace pages = popularity in many schools, at least that's what the kids tell me).

    Also, the police won't be showing
  • Technically and legally, if you are based in the same country/state that has the law preventing children from going to social sites from school, you should not do this. You would be legally responsible.

    If you are not, then it is a moral decision.

    If you ask me, preventing children from reaching social sites from public places is outright oppression - its just over-scared parents going overboard in 'protecting' children by hampering their use of new technology and social changes.

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