Saturday, February 24, 2007

BYU Blocks You Tube

BYU blocks campus access to YouTube
KATE MCNEIL - Daily Herald

It was the catch heard 'round the county.

With time expired, Brigham Young University quarterback John Beck
chucked the pigskin across his body to connect with a wide-open Jonny
Harline in the end zone, sealing a 33-31 victory against rival
University of Utah.

Minutes later, as jubilant Cougar fans drove home, videos of the final
play were being uploaded on YouTube.

A moment burned in the brains of BYU faithful is immortalized, at
least 15 times, on the ever-popular video sharing site. The only
catch? Even John Beck himself can't access the videos on campus.

YouTube is one of the newest sites to be blocked from BYU's on-campus
computers. It's self-explanatory that the school blocks sites like
Frederick's of Hollywood and the Wonderful World of Lesbianism -- but
why restrict access to every 20-something's favorite pastime?

"We use the filtering process for two reasons," said BYU spokeswoman
Carri Jenkins. "First to protect students from inappropriate material.
The other is because of our limited bandwidth. That bandwidth is used
for academic purposes."

BYU's filtering software, Secure Computing, filters three main things
-- pornography, adult content and violence, Jenkins said. BYU's
information technology department decided to block YouTube, despite
the site's own pornography filters, early fall semester 2006.

Google video is allowed, Jenkins said, because searches are conducted
through keywords. Secure Computing can easily filter out keywords like
sex, porn and violence on Google video better than it can on YouTube.
YouTube uses tags for its videos. In the BYU vs. Utah videos, tags
such as "BYU," "football," "answered," and "prayer" are used to find
Beck's heroic play.

"Inappropriate material can't be filtered on YouTube," Jenkins said.

Furthermore, Jenkins stressed that BYU is an academic institution and
its on-campus bandwidth should be used for academic purposes.

Internet access in on-campus residences like Wyview Terrace, where
Megan Timothy lives, is restricted in the same way as computers in the
Harold B. Lee Library. Timothy said she finds humor in most YouTube
videos and wishes she could access it at home, but understands the
block on campus.

"It's BYU and they block everything," she said.

Tyler Seibold's "beef" with the block is that he can't listen to new
music on campus. But, it's "not a huge deal," he said. The off-campus
accounting student can access the Tube all he wants through a private
Internet provider in his apartment.

In the campus newspaper, the Daily Universe, Todd Lagerberg said he
"saw much more nudity in the MTC showers than (he has) ever seen on
the BYU Internet."

Lagerberg, who also lives in Wyview, wishes BYU would "trust their
students more."

"There's really no way to get around it, I'm either at school or at
home," he said. "Both places I can't access it. If they're really
worried about the bandwidth usage, they should block MySpace too. On
MySpace you can find profiles that are pretty close to pornographic
but there's no blocks on that."

The university's IT department has the ability to monitor individual
students' Internet usage, but only do so if a concern is presented
about that particular student.

Jenkins said pornography access on campus is "not a huge problem,
given that our students are understanding of our campus environment."

"Everyone knows the Internet is full of garbage," said Adam Anderson,
a master's student in public management. "If you're going to block one
site, it's just a drop in the bucket."

Kate McNeil can be reached at 344-2549 or
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A1.

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