Relay – Internet Access

The Internet Access section of Relay controls internet access, Google search settings, and YouTube search settings. You can use this section to determine which websites your users can access, whether you want to enforce Google SafeSearch or not, and to set various in-depth YouTube settings.

As you learned in the Relay – Getting Started course, setting your Rules is an essential step in initial Relay setup. The access rules prevent unwanted traffic from reaching your network and provide a first layer of protection.

Default Rules

The Internet Access section allows you to set basic Google SafeSearch and Bypass settings. You can find these options by navigating to Internet Access > Default Rules and scrolling to General.

Here you can set several distinct Google settings.

  • Toggle Force Google SafeSearch if you want SafeSearch to be forced on all your user searches.
  • Toggle Filter Google image search thumbnails if you want thumbnails from websites in your blocked categories and Custom Block List blocked.
  • Toggle Restrict Access to Google apps if you only want to allow access to specific Google apps domains. Add domains that you wish to allow to the Allow Google apps domains box, separating each domain with a comma. This function is only supported with version 2.1.15 (and higher) of the Relay extension.
  • Toggle Bypass rules on failure to allow traffic to pass through if an allow/block decision cannot be made.
  • Toggle Filter and Report for Chromebooks only to filter and report only on users using Chromebooks. The report will ignore users that are logged in on the Chrome browser on other operating systems.

You can lock General settings by clicking on the circle or arrow to the right of the settings and selecting Lock. These settings will lock for each subsequent group within the Relay hierarchy.

Upon initial setup, you should also review the default Categories.

The Categories can be found under Internet Access > Default Rules in the main Relay left-hand navigation bar.

You can toggle a category on/off by clicking the button to the left of the category name.

  • A green circle showing a checkmark that is right-aligned indicates that the category is on and accessible. (15)
  • A red circle that resembled a stop sign that is left-aligned indicates that the category is off and blocked. (16)

You will need to determine which Categories you want to allow and which you want to block. Each category provides a description of the types of sites within it. If you are unsure how a site is categorized, you can scroll to the top of Rules and search for the site within the Enter a website to check… search bar.

Enter the website URL into the search bar and click Check. In the following example we searched for www.facebook.com. The results show that Facebook is categorized as forums.social_networking. 

You now know that you need to block the forums.social_networking Category if you want to block Facebook (or allowed if you want to make it accessible.)

Video Rules

Note: Smart Play is currently a beta release. This feature is fully functional and fully tested and is in use by schools around the world and can be used safely in the classroom. We will keep it in beta for an extended period of field use in order to fine-tune database categorizations with real-world usage.

Relay puts comprehensive YouTube and video controls right at your fingertips. With Relay’s Video settings, you have full control over your users’ interactions with YouTube. Relay allows you to allow or block specific videos and channels, set a variety of options, and block or allow entire content categories. In addition, Relay provides you with the option to use Smart Play, an education-focused machine-learning categorization of videos that allows educational videos and always blocks adult videos.

Relay allows you to use Smart Play to fully customize and control YouTube content.

Lightspeed Systems Smart Play is the best way to manage videos for your users.  We’ve taken our machine learning AI database engine and turned it loose on YouTube to accurately categorize videos. You can easily and safely allow educational videos in just a click.

Smart Play helps you:

  • Save time – no need to create and maintain manual lists
  • Improve learning – no blocking educational videos; no frustrating users as they try to teach and learn
  • Maintain safety and acceptable use – you don’t need to open all of YouTube to get the good stuff

You can access the Videos section by navigating to Internet Access > Video Rules.

The Video Rules section starts off with two key options: Allow or disallow YouTube and enable or disable Smart Play. Your first choice is whether you want your users to be able to browse youtube.com, period. By default, YouTube is allowed. You can completely disable YouTube by selecting the Block YouTube option from the dropdown menu. Otherwise, keep the Allow YouTube option selected. The Allow YouTube option allows complete access to YouTube with safety controls and settings you can customize. The Block YouTube option disables YouTube, only allowing access to videos that are directly shared with them by teachers or those embedded on an allowed site.

Smart Play

You can enable Smart Play by toggling the switch to the right of Smart Play. Once Smart Play is enabled, you will also have the option to allow other videos (videos that are not categorized and therefore not filtered by Smart Play. We recommend that you leave this option disabled for students. You may opt to enable it for teachers in order to allow access to non-educational and uncategorized content.)

Note: Categories are not available if Smart Play is enabled as Smart Play overrides YouTube’s native categories. We recommend using Smart Play over YouTube Categories as Smart Play intelligently categorized videos while YouTube categories are set by video uploaders, who do not always set categories correctly.

Smart Play Student View

The following is a sample student view of YouTube when Smart Play is enabled and YouTube browsing is allowed.

Videos that fall into your Allowed Categories/Lists will display their thumbnails and will play normally when opened by a student.

Videos that fall into your Blocked Categories/Lists will display a green blocked sign. If a user clicks on them, a block page will be displayed.

Smart Play Tips

Tip: Do not add youtube.com to your Custom Allow or Custom Block Lists.
Tip: Do not use youtu.be short URLs for Custom Allow and Custom Block Lists. Use the full URL.
Tip: Enable the option to block unknown videos for students. You may want to disable it for teachers/other users.
Tip: You can't locally allow/block topics
Tip: Add teacher/district YouTube channels to your Allow list. That way, curated content can easily reach students as videos are added to the channel.
Tip: You can see how a video is categorized by searching for it in the top search bar.

 

Smart Play vs. YouTube Restricted Mode

Smart Play offers better functionality and is easier to use than YouTube Restricted Mode.

The following table show differences between YouTube’s Restricted Mode and the Smart Play function of the Web Filter.

YouTube Restricted Mode Smart Play
Cannot be easily customized. Can be easily customized with local recategorization.
Channel and video classification handled by YouTube. Channel and video classification handled by Lightspeed’s dedicated team
Limited individual video/channel classification control Full individual video/channel classification control with Custom Allow and Block Lists
Cannot specifically block uncategorized videos. Can specifically block uncategorized videos.
No reporting functions. Ability to run reports that directly show YouTube activity.
Note: Although Smart Play is the superior solution, you can still opt to use YouTube Restricted Mode instead of Smart Play if you believe that it is a better solution for your specific set up. Make sure to turn YouTube Restricted Mode on and Smart Play off if you chose to do so.

 

YouTube Options

The YouTube Options section is divided into four parts:

  • 1. YouTube ControlsVarious YouTube options, including Restrict Mode, hiding comments, and hiding the sidebar.
  • 2. YouTube Categories: YouTube video categories that you can choose to allow or block.
  • 3. Custom Allow List: Videos and channels that are always allowed, even if they are flagged or belong to blocked Categories.
  • 4. Custom Block ListVideos and channels that are always blocked, even if they belong to allowed Categories.

 

Custom Allow and Block Lists

The Custom Allow and Custom Block lists allow you to manually block or allow certain videos and channels. You can see which videos and channels are currently on your lists by clicking the Videos and Channels buttons under each category (the number next to the button identifies how many videos or channels are currently in the category.) Click View All to view all videos and channels within a category and to allow videos within these categories in After School Rules.

You can add videos and channels to the Custom Allow or Custom Block lists by clicking the green “+” sign to the right.

The following box will pop up. Copy the URL of the YouTube video (or entire channel!) you want to allow and paste it into the Link field. Click Allow. 

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You will then see the video under the Custom Allow List category. The videos/channels in the list are shown chronologically by last added.

Click on the gray “x” to the right of any video/channel in order to delete it from the list.

Now, let us say that you have the Music category as allowed, but want your users to not be able to access a particular video that is categorized as Music. In this case, you will have to add that video to the Custom Block List list.

You can add Blocked Videos & Channels by clicking the green “+” sign to the right.

The following box will pop up. Copy the URL of the YouTube video (or entire channel!) you want to allow and paste it into the Link field. Click Block. (In this example, we’ll be blocking the video link for Nickleback’s song “Photograph”.)

You will then see the video under the Blocked Videos & Channels category. The videos/channels in the list are shown chronologically by last added.

Click on the gray “x” to the right of any video/channel in order to delete it from the list.

You can enable Custom Allow and Block List functionality in After School Rules by clicking View All and then toggling the Enable for After School Rules option.

This will make all the videos and channels in both your Custom Allow and Custom Block lists available in After School Rules. You should use this option if there are certain videos or channels that you do not want your users to access during school, but do not mind them accessing after school. The Enable for After School Rules option utilizes your Custom Allow List when After School Rules is activated.

Therefore, if you would like to have another Custom Allow/Block List configuration that is different from your currently used lists, you will need to create a new group for After School Rules, populate it with the same users, add the videos/channels that are usually found in your Custom Block List to your Custom Allow List, and toggle the Enable After School Rules option.

 

YouTube Controls

The Relay YouTube section also allows you to set several YouTube Controls. You can toggle the options by moving the switch either on (on) or off (84).

YouTube Controls include:



1. Force Restricted Mode: This option enables YouTube’s Restricted Mode, which hides any videos that YouTube determines to be inappropriate. You can learn more about Restricted Mode in this YouTube help video.

Note: Restricted Mode should be disabled if Smart Play is enabled.

2. Hide Featured Videos on Channels. When enabled, this option will hide the featured autoplay video found at the top of a YouTube channel.

3. Hide Video Thumbnails. This option hides video thumbnails on YouTube.

Note: This option should be disabled if Smart Play is enabled, as Smart Play will automatically hide all blocked thumbnails.

4. Hide Comments: This option hides comments on YouTube videos as well as discussion comments. YouTube allows Google+ users to leave comments on the bottom of each video. These comments are usually not moderated and tend to contain offensive language.

5. Hide Sidebar: This option hides the YouTube sidebar, which contains related videos. These related videos are determined by a complex algorithm that suggests videos related to the video currently being watched as well as videos that the user might find interesting based on their browsing history. These videos could at times be of an offensive or distracting nature, or could contain videos that are in your blocked categories.

We recommend enabling options 2, 4, and 5 if using Smart Play. We recommend enabling all options if not using Smart Play.

Categories

You can see all categories by clicking the Show YouTue Categories text under YouTube Controls.

This will show you a list of YouTube categories:

YouTube classifies each channel and each video into a distinct category, such as Film & Animation, Music, Shows, Education, etc. Relay now allows you to completely block videos and channels that fall into any individual category.

You can determine which category a YouTube video falls into by clicking Show More in the video description (under the video.)

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For example, the video above (a musical based on the works of Shakespeare) falls into the Music category.

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Let us say that you have determined that you do not want your users to access any videos in the Music category. Find the Music category under Categories and toggle the switch to block (73). Similarly, you can allow something by toggling the switch to allow (75). All categories are initially allowed by default.

Similarly to the Custom Allow List and the Custom Block List, the YouTube section allows you to allow (or block) particular videos or channels, even if they are in an otherwise blocked (or allowed) category.

For example, let us say that you have the Music category blocked (just like in the example above), but want to allow the “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” video. The video is categorized as Music, and therefore will be blocked by the Categories option. You can allow this video, while keeping all other Music videos blocked by adding it to the Custom Allow List list.

Overrides

The Allow Overrides section allows designated users to override any video blocks except those in the Custom Block List and those blocked by Smart Play. You can enable the Allow Overrides optino by toggling the switch on. You can set override users in the Users section of Relay.

 

YouTube Hierarchy

A hierarchy controls allowing or blocking YouTube categories, channels, and videos:

1) Smart Play overrides any other setting as long as Restricted Mode is turned off (Restricted Mode should always be turned off when using Smart Play.) Smart Play Allowed and Blocked lists override Smart Play categorization.

2) If you are not utilizing Smart Play, then YouTube’s Restricted Mode overrides any other setting. If you have the Enable YouTube’s Restricted Mode option turned on, then every single video categorized as “restricted” by YouTube will be blocked, even if it is within an allowed category or placed in the Allowed Videos & Channels list. Practically all videos that YouTube categorizes as “restricted” are of no educational merit, so you should not encounter a scenario in which you want to allow a restricted video.

3) The Allowed Videos & Channels and Blocked Videos & Channels lists override Categories. A channel or video that appears in one of these lists will always be either allowed or blocked (depending on which list it is in), no matter if the Category it is in is allowed or blocked. Ex: If you have the Films & Animation category allowed, but have a YouTube video within that category in the Blocked Videos & Channels list, then the video will always be blocked. Similarly, if you have the Films & Animation category blocked, but then have an educational film within that category in the Allowed Videos & Channels list, then the video will always be allowed.

4) The Allowed Videos & Channels list always overrides the Blocked Videos & Channels list. You can have an entire channel in the  Blocked Videos & Channels list, but if you have a single video from that channel in the Allowed Videos & Channels list, the video will still be allowed.

The following example illustrates how all three non-Smart Play hierarchy settings work together:

Let us suppose you have the Films & Animation Category as allowed and have the Enable YouTube’s Restricted Mode option enabled. Instantly, all videos that are labeled as “restricted” by YouTube within that category are blocked, no matter what. Next, let us suppose that you have an entire Channel, “Shakespeare Films for Adults” (which falls into the Films & Animation category), in your Blocked Videos & Channels list because the majority of the videos in the channel are inappropriate… but, a teacher wants to show a single video of a film form that channel which contains age-appropriate content. You therefore place that single video into the Allowed Videos & Channels list. As a result, the entire “Shakespeare Films for Adults” channel is blocked, but the single video of the appropriate film from the channel is allowed.

Note: Even though the Allowed Videos & Channels and Blocked Videos & Channels lists override Categories, Sealed Categories (categories that you are not able to toggle on/off, such as the “Offensive” category, which contains highly offensive material, and the “Illicit” category, which contains illegal pornographic material) override all lists.

After School Rules

Relay’s After School Rules are rules that you can apply in place of the Default Rules based on scheduling or IP range. These are typically used to control filtering when student devices are off-campus.

Note: After School Rules utilize your public IP address.

You can navigate to After School Rules by going to Internet Access > After School.

On the After School Rules page, you can enable the rules by adjusting the slider. You can select Off (disabled), Scheduled, or Off Campus. 

You can set After School Rules for all of your campus networks. Click the network button to the right of the toggle options to set your networks.

The following box will pop up. Enter your network name in the Network box and your Classless Inter-Domain Routing (CIDR) number in the CIDR box. Select your predefined CDRI switch from the dropdown menu. Click Add.

You will then see your network in the Network list. Add as many networks as necessary. You can delete a network from the list by clicking the gray x to the right of the network CIDR.

Note: The CIDR is a range of IPs. Example: If your IPs range from 192.168.1.0 to 192.168.1.25, your CIDR is 192.168.1.0/25. You can use this tool to determine your CIDR.

Once you have added your networks, you are ready to set your options.

Note: The options set will apply to the Scheduled and the Off Campus After School Rules. You can still set desired behaviors and options when After School Rules is set to Off, but these will not apply until After School Rules is set to either Scheduled or Off Campus. 

Scheduled After School Rules

You can set Scheduled After School Rules by selecting the Scheduled option on the top toggle.

Once toggled, the schedule grid will appear. Here you can set the exact schedule for your rules. You can set the schedule for the regular week (Mon-Fri) and for the weekend (Sat, Sun.) Type in the start time into the Start field and the end time into the End field.

The rules set below will only apply during the periods specified in the schedule grid above.

Off Campus After School Rules

You can set Off Campus After School Rules by selecting the Off Campus option on the top toggle.

When Off Campus is selected, rules specified below will automatically apply when student devices leave the networks that were specified as Campus Networks in the step above.


The After School Rules section is divided into three categories: General, Videos, and Categories.

General
The General section allows you to set Internet Access and Reporting options. Under Internet Access, you can determine if you want your users’ after school internet access to be:

Off – Internet access will be completely off and your users will not be able to access the internet on their devices.

Filtered – Users will have internet access, but it will be filtered based on your Relay rules.

Unfiltered – Users will have internet access, and it will be completely unfiltered with none of your Relay rules applying.

The General section also allows you to enable or disable Reporting. When enabled, internet activity will be recorded and reported in the Reports section of Relay. When disabled, no internet activity will be reported. You can enable and disable this option by toggling the switch.

In addition, the General section allows you to Filter and Report for Chromebooks only. This feature is useful if you only want reports on data generated by Chromebooks, while ignoring all other operating systems.

Videos

The Videos section allows you to set after school video rules for your users. These settings are similar to those found in the Video Rules section of Internet Access > Video Rules. Your first choice is whether you want your users to have access to YouTube, period. By default, YouTube is allowed. You can completely disable YouTube by selecting the Block YouTube option from the dropdown menu. Otherwise, keep the Allow YouTube option selected.

You can enable Smart Play by toggling the switch to the right of Smart Play. Once Smart Play is enabled, you will also have the option to allow other videos (videos that are not categorized and therefore not filtered by Smart Play. We recommend that you leave this option disabled.) Learn more about Smart Play in the Internet Access > Videos documentation.

Clicking the Show YouTube Options button will show you the YouTube Controls options.

Note: Categories are not available if Smart Play is enabled as Smart Play overrides YouTube’s native categories. We recommend using Smart Play over YouTube Categories as Smart Play intelligently categorized videos while YouTube categories are set by video uploaders, who do not always set categories correctly.

These options are the same as those found under Internet Access > Videos. Controls include:

1. Force Restricted Mode: This option enables YouTube’s Restricted Mode, which hides any videos that YouTube determines to be inappropriate. You can learn more about Restricted Mode in this YouTube help video.

Note: Restricted Mode should be disabled if Smart Play is enabled.

2. Hide Featured Videos on Channels. When enabled, this option will hide the featured autoplay video found at the top of a YouTube channel.

3. Hide Video Thumbnails. This option hides video thumbnails on YouTube.

4. Hide Comments: This option hides comments on YouTube videos. YouTube allows Google+ users to leave comments on the bottom of each video. These comments are usually not moderated and tend to contain offensive language.

5. Hide Sidebar: This option hides the YouTube sidebar, which contains related videos. These related videos are determined by a complex algorithm that suggests videos related to the video currently being watched as well as videos that the user might find interesting based on their browsing history. These videos could at times be of an offensive or distracting nature, or could contain videos that are in your blocked categories.

We recommend enabling all of the YouTube Options in order to ensure proper and safe YouTube usage by your users.

Categories

YouTube classifies each channel and each video into a distinct category, such as Film & Animation, Music, Shows, Education, etc. Relay now allows you to completely block videos and channels that fall into any individual category. You can enable or disable each individual category by toggling the corresponding switch. You can learn more about YouTube Categories in the Internet Access > Videos section.

Click Show All Categories at the bottom of the Categories list to see all categories.

Note: When an After School Rule policy is in effect, the Default Rule Checker is set to check against a currently active user policy. Custom Allow and Custom Block lists can be turned on for After School Rules and can then be referenced by the Default Rule Checker.

Custom Allow List

What happens if you want to allow your users to access Facebook, but want to block other websites within the forums.social_networking category, such as Myspace, Pinterest, and Instagram? You can easily do so by adding www.facebook.com to your Custom Allow List.

You can access the Custom Allow List by navigating to Internet Access > Custom Allow List on the main Relay left-hand navigation menu.

You can add any site to the Custom Allow List. Sites in the Custom Allow List are never blocked or flagged. To add a site, type the site’s URL in the Search/Add bar and press Enter on your keyboard.

Verify the URL (www.facebook.com in the example below) and click Add.

You will see the site being added to the Custom Allow List. You can remove any site from the Custom Allow List by clicking the gray “x” to the right of the URL. You can determine whether the site will generate flags in reports by checking or unchecking the Allow Flagging box. Custom Allow List sites are ordered by date added. You can navigate between sites by using the gray navigation arrows at the bottom of the list. You can import a list (.csv or .txt) of websites by clicking the Import button (68). The file should contain one URL per row/line and no more than 500 rows/lines.

You can enable Custom Allow Lists for After School Rules by toggling the Enable for After School Rules switch. This will allow the Default Rule Checker to check against the Custom Allow List while After School Rules are on.

Note: Do not include a subdomain, not even www., unless you want to treat subdomains differently. For example, any allow rule for Wikipedia.org will allow every subdomain including en.wikipedia.org, fr.wikipedia.org, and so on. In contrast, allowing www.cliffsnotes.com will not automatically allow cliffsnotes.com. However, allowing cliffsnotes.com will also allow the subdomain www.cliffsnotes.com.

Custom Block List

The Custom Block List does the exact opposite of the Custom Allow List. Websites in the Custom Block List are always blocked, even if the category they are in is allowed. To use the Facebook example: if you want to block Facebook, but still allow access to other forums.social_networking sites, you can add www.facebook.com to the Custom Block List.

You can access the Custom Block List by navigating to Internet Access > Custom Block List on the main Relay left-hand navigation menu.

You can add any site to the Custom Block List. Sites in the Custom Block List are always blocked, no matter what. To add a site, type the site’s URL in the Search/Add bar and press Enter on your keyboard.

Verify the URL (www.facebook.com in the example below) and click Add.

You will see the site being added to the Custom Block List. You can remove any site from the Custom Block List by clicking the gray “x” to the right of the URL. Custom Block List sites are ordered by date added. You can navigate between sites by using the gray navigation arrows at the bottom of the list. You can navigate between sites by using the gray navigation arrows at the bottom of the list. You can import a list (.csv or .txt) of websites by clicking the Import button (68). The file should contain one URL per row/line and no more than 500 rows/lines.

Note: You can quickly change whether a website is allowed or blocked by clicking the pencil icon to the right of a website after searching for it in the main Rules search bar.

The following box will pop up. Here you can select whether you want the site to remain in its default category, be moved to the Custom Blocked List or be moved to the Custom Allowed List. Check the appropriate selection and select Apply. 

You can enable Custom Block Lists for After School Rules by toggling the Enable for After School Rules switch. This will allow the Default Rule Checker to check against the Custom Block List while After School Rules are on.

Note: Do not include a subdomain, not even www., unless you want to treat subdomains differently. For example, any allow rule for Wikipedia.org will allow every subdomain including en.wikipedia.org, fr.wikipedia.org, and so on. In contrast, allowing www.cliffsnotes.com will not automatically allow cliffsnotes.com. However, allowing cliffsnotes.com will also allow the subdomain www.cliffsnotes.com.

Blocked Search Keywords

Blocked Search Keywords allow you to designate specific search keyword to be blocked from searches. A user that attempts to search for one of the keywords through an online search engine will encounter a block page.

You can access the Blocked Search Keywords section of Relay by navigating to Internet Access > Blocked Search Keywords.

You can add a Blocked Search Keyword by typing it in the Search/Add box and pressing Enter. Relay will then search for the keyword. If the keyword does not exist, then you will be able to add it by clicking Add. Click the gray “x” next to the search term to exit back to the list. You will now see your new term added to the list of terms.

You can either add keywords manually or upload them in bulk via a .CSV or plain text file. The file must contain one keyword per row with a maximum limit of 500 rows. Click the Import icon to the right of the search box. Click Choose File and navigate to your .CSV or plain text file on your computer. Click Import. The list will be automatically imported by Relay.

Toggle the Enable for After School Rules switch to enable the Blocked Search Keywords for your After School Rules.

If you wish, you can have Relay match Blocked Search Keywords by Regex patterning.

Regex is a special text string for describing a search pattern that gives you significantly more control over your Blocked Search Keywords. Regex pattern matching allows you to quickly analyze large amounts of content in order to identify specific character patterns.

Learn more about: Regex Patterns
Useful info: Regex Patterns Cheatsheet

You can enable Regex patterns in Relay for each individual Blocked Search Keyword by checking the box under the Enable Regex column next to your chosen term.