Is Your AI-Based Web Filter CIPA Compliant?

We’ve discovered that some popular school web filters can’t effectively block pornographic sites, putting CIPA compliance and student safety at risk. We tested GoGuardian and Securly and they block less than half of pornographic sites. Is your web filter really effective? Read on to find out more.

Lightspeed Beats the Competition at CIPA Compliance and Student Safety

How many pornographic sites do filters actually block?

(This is based on our own internal tests of thousands of pornographic sites randomly selected from our database.)

You need a filter that’s effective. That’s Lightspeed.

What sets Lightspeed’s database technology apart?
* Our database is the most comprehensive
* We allow you to block unknown sites (though they don’t stay unknown for long)
* We update our database in real-time
* Our adaptive AI database categories are the most granular
* We combine our database with advanced AI technology

There’s been some disparaging content about “URL-based filtering” lately — suggesting that it isn’t able to effectively block without over-blocking. At Lightspeed Systems, we know that while educational content shouldn’t be over-blocked, adult content can’t be under-blocked either. Schools need to maintain that fine balance — and Lightspeed Systems has built the technology that delivers the balance schools need.

Calling the technology that powers Lightspeed Systems Relay and Web Filter “URL-based filtering” is like calling Google “URL-based search.”

Our solutions crawl and index the Web and categorize domains. They do so based on advanced AI technology, proprietary algorithms, an army of robot crawlers, and human reviewers — garnering deep insights into each site’s content, images, metatags, history, and more. (All this information about our categorizations is publicly available at

Effective filtering certainly requires more than a static URL list. It also requires more than real-time AI. That’s why we combine our advanced AI and database technology to provide the best filtering available.

We put GoGuardian Admin and Securly to the test.

We tested GoGuardian Admin and Securly on the most fundamental metric of success for web filters: how well they block pornographic content. And GoGuardian and Securly just didn’t work.

To test GoGuardian, we blocked the pornography category and turned on Smart Alerts for the Explicit category with “medium confidence”. (Medium confidence is the lowest available setting, meaning we are not totally sure it’s inappropriate, so content is more likely to be over-blocked than under-blocked). To test Securly, we blocked the pornography category.

Here are the results of our testing:

  • Of more than 3,200 unambiguously pornographic sites we tested (randomly pulled from our database of more than 300,000 pornographic domains), GoGuardian allowed 60% of this pornographic content. Securly allowed even more.
  • Of the 40% pornographic sites that were blocked by GoGuardian, many pornographic sites were fully visible for up to 20 seconds before eventually being blocked. Results were slow and inconsistent.
  • Securly’s PageScan is supposed to review unknown sites and then categorize them in minutes — but pornographic sites we tested were still unblocked days later
  • Pornographic thumbnails and featured channel images in YouTube were not blocked
  • Adult images within Google docs did not trigger a block or Smart Alert
  • Adult images and content in dynamic sites like Pinterest were not blocked

Click above to see a sample report that shows a student “filtered” by GoGuardian visiting pornographic URLs — with only two blocked by GoGuardian.

Test your filter.

GoGuardian claims that its “Smart Filtering is up to 100x more effective than traditional URL filters.” GoGuardian also claims that its “award-winning team of engineers and data scientists have built the next-generation of filtering, and the results are astounding.”

Securly claims it is the “only web filtering company that is focused on student safety beyond CIPA compliance.”

According to our tests, these claims don’t hold up.

We don’t think these filters are acceptable in schools. Fortunately, there’s a better solution. And Relay isn’t just great at blocking pornography: It has all the advanced features you need to keep students safe and report on activity across every OS.

If your school needs a web filter that blocks inappropriate content, allows educational content, ensures CIPA compliance, and keeps your students safe on any device anywhere they go, check out Relay.

With Relay, you get smarter filtering:

• Our filtering solutions are CIPA compliant out of the box
• Our comprehensive and accurate Adaptive AI Database ensures inappropriate content is blocked
• We combine our database technology with advanced AI for the best protection, least overblocking, and greatest control
• Smart Play keeps YouTube safe
• Features like Flagged Terms and Threat Check allow you to keep sites like Google Docs available to students, while ensuring you know about inappropriate or dangerous content in them
• Granular categories (that, for example, differentiate educational games from other games) ensure you aren’t overblocking
• We allow you to block unknown URLs that haven’t yet been categorized or scanned (though with Lightspeed Systems, no site stays unknown for long!)
• Powerful filtering settings in an intuitive UI make it easy to adjust all filtering policies to fit your needs

(Plus, Relay gives you all this on Chromebooks, Windows devices, Mac devices, and iOS devices – filtering every app and every browser.)

Not convinced? Contact us to find out more about our filtering technology and the results of our comparative tests.

We are committed to protecting students – no matter what. Even if you aren’t using a Lightspeed Systems Filtering solution, any school can contact us for a list of explicit sites to add to custom block lists. (Because there are so many sites and new ones added every day, we can’t guarantee complete or ongoing safety with any solution but our own.)

We aren’t posting additional details and URLs here because we don’t want to make it any easier for students using other solutions to access inappropriate content.