Northern Illinois University's terrible net policy censors political Wikipedia entries



Reminds of the filters that make it impossible to research breast cancer.

Someone doesn’t understand what an institute of higher learning is for.


The filter at my college blocked me from viewing source code examples for my IT course (as it could have led to ‘hacking’, apparently). This comes as no surprise.


Which is why I laughed when this article from the Daily Caller was brought to my attention.

Ninth-Grade Sex Ed Material So Raunchy School Porn Filter Had To Be Disabled

The horror, the horror!


That’s insane.

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Can this be worked around via e.g. a VPN? For the price of one latte a month per person, a decent exit node virtual server can be hired somewhere by a group of students, and then tunneled to it via OpenVPN or SSH or any other protocol of choice.

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…a single-sentence policy revision later…

I wanted to try & use pingtunnel to get round ours, but I wasn’t allowed root access on local macines.

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Perhaps it’s worth doing a little research before posting, Cory. According to HuffPo - - the controversial bit of the AUC applies only to staff, not to students. (And from a quick scan, it looks depressingly like every other corporate AUC I’ve ever read.)


Another popular form of tunneling is via DNS requests. Those are more difficult to block/filter than ICMP. Still requires root, though.

A thought… What about implementing a proxy in javascript, or even a full-blown browser, leveraging websockets?

Edit: Websockets do not support listening sockets; the connection has to be always initiated from the script side. However, the WebRTC spec should allow for peer-to-peer connections; maybe this could be leveraged somehow, too?

Quite possibly, but the thing is, YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO DO SO. Students and staff are of the age of majority, as it is, and furthermore, the list of blocked subjects is insane.

The ban on all online political speech is also incredibly foolish, as it will certainly be found to be unconstitutional, if anyone affected cares to hire a lawyer.


That article does say the policy only applies to staff, but it also gives the story of a student blocked from accessing the Wikipedia page for Westboro Baptist Church. So which is it?

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Meh. I left, anyway.

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Not even.

I was going with wtf until I recognised it as a question, which is apparently forbidden at NIU.

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Charitable interpretation: it’s a shared medium, so that ask for an ID so they can distinguish between staff and students.

Cynical interpretation: They screwed up the implementation.

Its true, IT knowledge does lead to hacking.


Has anybody contacted the university’s political science or history departments, to see how this affects their research?

Also, the only sensible explanation I can think of for this is some policy against using government-funded university assets for doing politics, implemented badly. (That doesn’t mean I think a sensible explanation necessarily applies here.)

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Politics, implemented badly is something of a recurring theme, innit?

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How does the CIO imagine himself to have the authority to hobble faculty or student (aka customer) net access? This is like if the head janitor tried to ban the wearing of shoes indoors so he doesn’t have to mop.

This is like if the head janitor tried to ban the wearing of shoes indoors so he doesn’t have to mop.

In Sweden they do things differently