Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

Summary: Google announced today that it would be changing the hostname it used for its encrypted search product, https://www.google.

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TOPICS: Google
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Google announced today that it would be changing the hostname it used for its encrypted search product, https://www.google.com, solving the problems caused for Google Apps users in schools that blocked access to the new secure search site. As I reported last week,

Many schools have blocked Google secure search to prevent kids from bypassing content filters…they’ve also managed to prevent students and staff from getting to Google Apps.

Google explained its solution in a blog post today:

...in a few weeks we will move encrypted search to a new hostname – so schools can limit access to SSL search without disrupting other Google services, like Google Apps for Education. Longer term, we are exploring other options like moving authentication to its own hostname so that we can return encrypted search to https://www.google.com.

The good news in this message is that schools looking to move to Google Apps this summer no longer need to abandon their plans. I also applaud Google for being willing to kill a worldwide property (https://www.google.com) to ensure that their educational (and potentially enterprise) customers can have access to Apps in a manner that is completely consistent with CIPA and other local policies.

The bad news is that "a few weeks" puts us into July, making the solution irrelevant for the 2009-2010 school year. Schools that have built workflows, processes, and collaborative efforts around Google Apps (precisely, by the way, what schools should be doing with these powerful "21st Century tools") are left using Hotmail accounts or authenticating off-campus with a laptop to salvage end-of-year work.

For all of us who have struggled to get teachers to not only adopt but embrace new technologies, it's easy to imagine just how much damage this has done to the perception of Apps and the willingness of teachers to trust in the Cloud. This says nothing of how disruptive the loss of access to critical documents and communications media would be to teachers and administrators.

A few weeks? Come on...this problem was identified shortly after Google rolled out encrypted search on June 3rd and won't be resolved (even temporarily) until sometime in July. Google is, well, Google! If they want to change a canonical domain, I think they could figure out how to do it in less than 5 weeks. I have no doubt that the implications of this change are far-reaching and beyond my little brain's power to comprehend. But Google is hardly being transparent in its attempts to resolve this issue, nor is it clear to thousands of disgruntled users why the problem can't be solved before they and their students have all left for the summer.

Although it's too late now for many schools, others have as many as 2 weeks left before summer break. Many will begin summer school and extra programs in June and could benefit from a hastier resolution. Make it happen, Google. We've all accepted that you basically are the Internet at this point, employing many of the brightest IT minds in the world. You can do better for your most devoted customers.

Topic: Google

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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13 comments
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  • Despite what puritan moral preaches, there is nothing wrong with porn

    -- for *higher* schoolers, if they like to explore it (and, of course, if is not an illegal porn).

    Researches show that porn-attached (but not overzealous, though) teens are psychologically healthier and have much less risk of doing something aggressive and illegal than those who restricted with their sexual experience even on porn-level way.

    Such <b>restriction drives some youngsters crazy, raising both common and sexual aggressiveness,</b> increasing crime rate.

    Porn is perfectly healthy thing, and since the state, the government is secular, there is no root for porn being damned because of religious prejudices.

    No one suffers, no one gets hurt because of porn, so exploring it is perfectly moral thing and school should not ban it. (Not to say that school should turn into "masturbatorium", but still.)
    DDERSSS
    • RE: Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

      @denisrs

      wow
      maskman01
    • RE: Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

      @denisrs

      yeah wow. Tell that to all the parents. If you worked for a school like I do you would be singing a different tune. We use multiple layers to ensure our students stay within the confines of safe internet usage. Our content filter is is also a packet inspector and URL filter and we enforce safe search in most of the search engines the filter is compatible with which is quite a few. It detects and prevents all forms of proxy cirvumvention and if a new one is discovered it is blocked right away.

      I had a high school student try to argue that porn is a form of art and censorship is illegal. How about you become a teacher and take your kids on a field trip to strip club and try and say it is a form of art and no one is being hurt by this.

      Of course this idiotic post just goes along with your others to prove that you are clueless outside of your little box.
      bobiroc
      • Can you read? I did not say school should be turned into pornarium

        or that teachers should take schoolers there or arrange porn viewing "research" sessions or something like this.

        But if *higher* schoolers in their aftertime, not during classes, sometime will have fun viewing porn, nothing horrible will happen and it will bring the tension down.

        <b>That is what basically researches say.</b> It is not written outright in "Conclusions" section only because there is hypocritical puritan morals that suggest that porn is bad.
        DDERSSS
      • RE: Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

        @denisrs

        Oh I can read and I do not believe that porn should be allowed in public schools on public computers especially with minors. You have to take into account many of the other security risks associated with looking at porn online when it comes to malware and such. While I personally do not find it offensive if it is tasteful porn and not some sick crap that I will not mention other people do and you have to respect other people that may be using that computer after you.

        If they want to look at porn on their PERSONAL computer and on their PERSONAL internet then fine as long as it is fine by their parents (if they are minors) or other people that may be living with them.

        If they are looking at a naked body for the sake of research like anatomy then fine but if they are looking to get themselves excited then it is not something that needs to be done in schools.

        If you want your 8 year old son or daughter to look at penises and breasts and vaginas then that is your business but do it in the privacy of your home. Teachers or public institutions should not be making those decisions for any kid at any age. That is a parental decision.
        bobiroc
      • RE: Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

        @bobiroc PACKET INSPECTOR... that sound draconian to say the least. Do you read their email? I think I will start spending my considerable knowledge of deep filter design, split traffic design, traffic management and other tools to give these kids a fighting chance.

        Here is a idea, take a request, split it into multiple innocent looking requests, send them over, combine issue, take the result and make it look like... National Geographic and reassemble. Done in JavaScript that is spit into multiple parts (so you can not identify it). Sounds like a good weekend project to look into.
        zoe000
    • As far as this topic is concerned...

      You're just an idiot. In case you hadn't noticed, porn does exactly the opposite of what you assert.

      That being said, do you expect students are going to learn much [insert traditional subject name here] while gawking at porn. That and good luck to you trampling over the rights and responsibilities of the parents and school staff by declaring pron is ok. Forcing your lame world view on the rest doesn't work.
      zkiwi
  • RE: Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

    Sounds like Google is now a 'mature" organization - one groups / org does not tell other orgs its plans and implements them and then says "Wwell if you came to our meetings you would know". "But you Did not invite me!" "It was on the calendar for all to see!"
    Google is starting to act like a big government organization! This will always happen - to stop it you have to slow down deployment around 6 to 12 x as long to implement anything - by going through "the process" - in order to let everyone know about it. Why things take so long to happen in State / Federal / Local governments - to allow everyone to have their word and tweak the product.
    TAPhilo
  • content filters are stupid and evil

    Content filters are stupid and evil, and anything that discourages short-sighted institutions from implementing them is a good thing, in my opinion.
    bblackmoor9
    • RE: Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

      @bblackmoor@...

      Thats right let all the porn, spyware, viruses, phishing sites, etc.. flow right in. You can do all that on your personal computer and personal internet but schools and other public and private institutions have the right to keep the stuff they do not want out. The internet is a convenience not a right. If the parents do not care then that is their business to allow it at home.
      bobiroc
      • RE: Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

        @bobiroc Why do you say that Internet is not a right? It should be. As access to information is VITAL for our competitive stamina in the decades to come.
        zoe000
  • RE: Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

    What about the students who are not minors? Since there is so much protection "in theory" you are blocking searches by them, what about taking books out of the library that are inappropriate. Porn is a judgement after all, what one parent thinks is fine for their kids, say the cover of sports illustrated, could easily be considered porn by others, who is the arbiter of what is and is not porn. This is not such an easy problem as most of the commenters seem to think? What if the student wants to look up venereal diseases because they might have one or want to know how to prevent them. Will a search of penis or vagina not be allowed? See it is very complex.
    sanjonny
    • RE: Google moving to solve encrypted search issues for schools

      @sanjonny

      It is complex but in my experience of if the information for a venereal disease as your example if the information is on a medical or site meant to give the information appropriately it will be allowed. I know this is a touchy subject and it has been argued a million times for one side or another but I find that most content filters do a pretty good job of allowing the legitimate information through and keeping the stuff that should be out blocked. But in the end if the computer or network/internet is being provided by a public or even a private institution then they have the right to say what can be allowed and not allowed within reason and that is why there are regulations like the Children's Internet Protection Act to help set some guidelines.
      bobiroc