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.

General

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

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Here you can set two 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 in you want thumbnails from websites in your blocked categories and Custom Block List blocked.

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 your reports solely by Chromebook devices. 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.

Rules

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

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

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Within the Rules section, scroll down to Categories. You can toggle a category on/off by clicking the button to the left of the category name.

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  • 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.

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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. 

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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.)

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.

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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.

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

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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 Flagged 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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

YouTube

Relay puts comprehensive YouTube controls right at your fingertips. With Relay’s YouTube 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.

You can access the YouTube section by navigating to Internet Access > YouTube. 

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The YouTube section is divided into four parts:

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1. Allowed Videos & Channels: Videos and channels that are always allowed, even if they are flagged or belong to blocked Categories.

2. Blocked Videos & Channels: Videos and channels that are always blocked, even if they belong to allowed Categories.

3. Options: Various YouTube options, including Restrict Mode, Block Age, hiding comments, and hiding the sidebar.

4. Categories: YouTube video categories that you can choose to allow or block.

Categories

Let us start with 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. You will then need to 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.

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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 Allowed Videos & Channels list.

Allowed Videos & Channels

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

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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 Allowed Videos & Channels category. The videos/channels in the list are shown chronologically by last added. You can click on VIEW ALL in order to see all the videos and channels in the list.

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

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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 Blocked Videos & Channels list.

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

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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”.)

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You will then see the video under the Blocked Videos & Channels category. The videos/channels in the list are shown chronologically by last added. You can click on VIEW ALL in order to see all the videos and channels in the list.

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

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Options

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

Options include:

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1. Enable YouTube’s 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.

2. Block Age Restricted Videos: This options blocks all videos that have been marked as age restricted (18+) by the video uploader.

3. 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.

4. 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.

YouTube Hierarchy

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

1) 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.

2) 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.

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