THE HAPPY days of “student-hackers” are numbered.

The Santo Tomas e-Services Providers (STePS) has bought a system designed to block proxy websites used by students to access social-networking portals and other prohibited sites.

Ma. Beatriz Lacsamana, assistant director for network and operations of STePS, said the web filtering subscription would be in full use in the latter part of September.

“The website filtering is meant to block [not only] existing, [but also] future proxy sites so that students will no longer be able to use them,” Lacsamana said.

But the aim of the new system is not to prevent students from accessing Multiply or Facebook, but to stop them from viewing “prohibited sites” like those that contain pornography, she clarified.

Lacsamana revealed that the STePS is studying the capacity of the University to extend its Internet bandwidth so that students and professors may view social-networking sites “in aid of education.”

Director Ma. Ninia Calaca of the Educational Technology Center (EdTech) said her office had long realized the benefits of networking sites as “online classrooms.” This was the reason why the STePS office located at the second floor of the Miguel de Benavides Library is free from the blocking system.

“Some professors would need to post discussions on Facebook or let the students view a video on YouTube,” Calaca said in a phone interview.

But there are guidelines to follow in viewing these websites, especially for students who are only allowed to use computers at the EdTech Multimedia Center for “academic purposes.”

Professors must state the purpose of viewing websites in making reservations for the use of the center, Calaca said.

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“Some professors who reserve the [center] tend to leave the whole class on its own, causing students to abuse access of social-networking sites,” she added.

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