Friday, December 13, 2013

SkyDrive and Lightspeed Systems -- why once again web filtering is going south

Lightspeed Systems
A few weeks ago it was made aware to me how SkyDrive has been basically blocked from most school districts, categorized manually by "LIGHTSPEED\lori" as computers.filehosting. Besides the lol at how Lightspeed uses their Windows domain as a way of identifying their users, the problem with the manual move to the category of file hosting upsets a lot of people, both teachers and students.

The Problem
The problem is the categorization. By default most districts will block all websites marked as file hosting. While at first this sounds good, SkyDrive has many, many more uses such as hosting and sharing Office documents, in addition to just hosting files.

With Office 365 becoming more and more popular among both personal and business/government users, the use of SkyDrive is going up both as a way to store documents as well as share them with others. SkyDrive's use of Office Web Apps is also useful to make small edits while in the browser.

SkyDrive blockage information, per the Lightspeed Archive website
According to the latest look at the SkyDrive listing on the Lightspeed Systems archive, SkyDrive has been manually moved into the category file hosting. This means that an actual staff member at Lightspeed systems placed SkyDrive in said category.

Who knows. SkyDrive is blocked by Lightspeed under normal circumstances and they haven't given a reason why. I have sent them emails asking why SkyDrive was placed in the file hosting category considering it's use with Office 365, but they never responded.

What about SkyDrive's competitors?
Google Drive blockage information, per the Lightspeed Archive website
This is where Lightspeed pulls a funny one. Google Drive is marked as education! I cannot find for one reason why Google Drive, a SkyDrive competitor and is matched in terms of file hosting + a web document editing solution, is marked as an educational website.

Why web filtering (especially from Lightspeed) is going south once again
One of Lightspeed System's main missions are to create a good environment for schools while not over-blocking websites. Some solutions such as MyBigCampus and manual teacher override of some filters has helped contribute to that point, but when you have uneducated people moving websites around manually with publicly documented reason, you deserve to be questioned (in my opinion). 

With something as big as SkyDrive being moved to a very hostile category considering it's increasing integration with Windows products and services, an answer should be demanded. As of the time this article was written, the main TLD (top level domain) is still marked as a general Microsoft website.

Basically blocking SkyDrive and marking competitors as educational doesn't make much sense to me, and I hope everyone reading this article feels the same. I hope Lightspeed finally gives everyone an answer because they finally have someone who dislikes them for a legitimate reason.

Oh yeah --  also you will get an automated response if you try to submit a request for review on the archive pages. I've tried it many of times, and all emails were replied to by an automated machine saying that my request for review was automatically denied. Isn't that nice?