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Web Filtering and the RIPA - Being Prepared

2 minute read
By Smoothwall

In the UK, the “Regulation of Investigatory Powers” act (or RIPA) was passed in 2000. This act sounds like it might curb the authorities’ access to internet browsing histories, but in fact, that regulation is anything but a restriction.

RIPA gives the police – and a number of other government bodies from the Gambling Commission to the Food Standards agency – a way to access communication data.  

For schools, this means it’s possible that, without a warrant, on the say-so of a senior police officer, you may be asked to turn over information about a user’s access to a particular site.

Often this is in conjunction with PREVENT, with the aim of nipping extremism in the bud. From experience, we can advise that authorities take a fairly dim view of schools being unable to provide this kind of information. For this reason, it’s important to consider what your web filter is logging. 

  • Are all requests authenticated?
  • Are all requests logged, including video and image assets – or just the domain?   
  • Are these logs stored in an appropriate location?  
  • Are these logs stored in an industry standard format like JSON?  
  • Are logs kept intact, or is anything discarded to save space?  

It’s not essential that these questions are all answered in the affirmative, but before considering a new supplier, it’s sensible to ask them.  

Not only is it important that your filter logging is sufficient to satisfy law enforcement enquiries, it’s also good to have an array of information at your fingertips. Possible safeguarding issues should be alerted – but there’s also a need for trend reporting, and perhaps an end of week roundup on problem categories like self-harm and radicalisation. A high-qualityeducation focussed filter will help you access the information your colleagues need to do the job of protecting the young people in the school.  

Want to learn more?

If you have a question or would like to learn more about Smoothwall Filter, speak to one of our web filtering experts today.

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Further reading

You may also be interested in other articles from our ‘Filtering Imperatives’ series:

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