Lock Safe Search In Google

12 Nov/09

Safe Search is a filter in the Google search engine. By default moderate filtering is applied to all search results which can be changed by the search engine user to strict filtering or no filtering. Especially families with kids but also organizations and businesses use these filters to prevent that inappropriate search results appear in Google search. There was not a way until now however to lock the safe search level which meant that anyone with the know how could change the search filtering level without anyone knowing. The latter is of course only true if no explicit image or text appears on the user’s computer monitor which would be a dead giveaway for the manipulation.

Google now has implemented an option to lock Safe Search and it sounds good on paper. A Google account owner can lock Safe Search so that the filter cannot be modified by future users. Even better is the fact the Google will display colored balls on every search result page which are a visual indicator that Safe Search is still on and locked (good for parents for example to verify that in a glance without giving their children the impression they are snooping on them).

google safe search

The feature itself is limited however. Google locks Safe Search by placing a cookie on the computer system. This means the lock is only valid for that one operating system and web browser. A user with access to another web browser could bypass the filtering. As could a user with the ability to delete cookies could also bypass the filtering although this would be noticed by the user who configured it in first place.

A simple switch to another web browser will also do the trick. It is a nice effort on the other hand and there is always a loophole to avoid filtering. And if everything fails kids can still visit their friend’s house where the parents might not be as strict.

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