Americas

  • United States
by Ann Harrison

Schools use Packeteer to block P2P nets

Opinion
Apr 08, 20032 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Students blocked from sites deemed inappropriate

Packeteer, a Cupertino, Calif., company that sells traffic management software, reports that a number of K-12 school districts are using its Packetshaper product to block access to P2P networks, including Kazaa, AudioGalaxy and Morpheus. The schools say they are blocking P2P networks to screen out smutand to comply with the Childhood Internet Protection Act.

Roger Courtney, manager of systems, programming and operations at Birdville Independent School District, near Dallas is quoted in Packeteer’s promotional literature as pointing out that P2P networks generally bypass Internet filtering software. He notes that filtering software that block the URLs of porn sites do not work against P2P applications, partly because they do not contain the IP addresses of everyone offering files on these networks.

Packeteer adds that Kazaa, Morpheus and Gnutella can switch ports on the fly to avoid firewalls and other security measures. Packeteer says its product detects such file trading networks at Layer 7 and blocks them completely.

CIPA provides financial incentives to schools and libraries that use filtering or blocking technology on computers to keep students from accessing sites that are deemed to be obscene, pornographic or harmful to minors. Some schools and libraries have refused to use such technology because they consider them a form of censorship.

Certainly Packeteer stands to profit from the perception that P2P networks are primarily an efficient transmission vehicle for smut. Of course students who are blocked from accessing P2P networks at school or in the library, can and are, accessing these sites on their home machine. Packeteer notes that Kazaa Media Desktop is still the most popular download at CNET Download.com, and has been downloaded more than 203 million times since the application was posted in September 2002.