Another Look At Filtering

michnews.com has a Long Column by Arlene Sawicki, a Catholic lay activist on pro-life and pro-family issues in the state of Illinois.
She says all taxpayer-funded public library boards should  to uphold the highest standards of safety and protection to the community by installing the best computer filtering software available today -  on both adult and children's computers.  Filtering is not "censorship, " it is the application of common sense and decency - despite what the American Library Association would compel their members to do.

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A slight problem with this...

Although it is good for libraries to provide "safe environments", is it not just as good for parents to actually be there when their children use the library? Minors are called such for a reason. They are not "little people" with all the same rights as "grown ups". Filters are nice but are still a way in which a library ends up taking responsibility for what is a parent's job...

That tax-payer money is mine too

I pay my taxes. Therefore publicly owned computers are mine too. My tax dollars pay for publicly funded internet accounts. I demand unfettered access to my computers and everything they are hooked up to.

Also, I am personally and morally offended by all the ostentation displays of self-righteousness. I demand that Big Brother government protect me from the baby-killing, witch- and fag-burning churches by "filtering" out any and all public displays of christianity or the transmission or broacast of any and all religious messages.

Because I pay my taxes and that's what I pay them for.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, etc, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum. In perpetuity and throughout the universe.

Kvetch.

And filtering is too censorship, and this article illustrates very clearly what I have been saying for some time about filtering. It is not about protecting children from the a priori assumption of "Harmful To Minors" material. It is about controlling what anybody is allowed to look at no matter how physically, emotionally, or intellectually mature they might be. If Miss Prissy Britches doesn't like the material that's available through the internet, then she should not be surfing the internet or allowing her children to do so except in the confines and security of her home.

Godwin's Law

We should coin a variant of Godwin's Law: "As a LISNews discussion of Internet filtering grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving religious fanaticism or child pornography approaches one."

Filtering

It is interesting that this debate keeps returning with no resolution. Libraries provide a service to a wide range of patrons. Each patron seeks information for a host of reasons. Under the constitution we all have a right of freedom of expression. However, libraries should neither be the legislative or judicial arm of the government. Libraries serve their patrons and reflect the bibliographic needs of the public they serve. If a significant percentage of the user group is offended or concerned about the types of materials that should be a professional concern. Families have traditionally been the core of public library usage. Family concerns should be respected. Furthermore why should taxpayer money be used to purchase materials or internet time that could prove harmful to children. Why should taxpayer money be used to enable people to serve their need for pornography. The people who encourage use of tax money to help the poor, provide social services, and other things good for society should not be pushing tax money for things that are harmful to society. A parent should feel that schools and libraries are their partners not their adversaries. We would be angry if tax money was given to a friend of legislator for a project, why shouldn't we be equally angry if an agenda item is pushed before proper public debate and resolution.

Re:Filtering

I'm no fan of pornography in libraries. I keep an eye out for inappropriate viewing in our children's room. But...I don't get the "no tax money for porn" argument. Filters cost money, so it costs more to block objectionable sites than to have them available for viewing. So cash-strapped libraries have to shell out extra money to not only block porn but also perfectly legitimate sites? I used a filtered computer that blocked a perfectly innocuous fantasy baseball site, but it did not block the "Savage Love" column from Village Voice. I don't necessarily buy the "unfettered access for everyone" argument either; it sounds suspicously like the NRA's "if any limits are put on gun ownership it will lead to all guns being banned" argument. I just don't think that filters as they presently exist are the answer.

That old debbil ALA, compelling those libraries!

I find it telling that this "lay activist" could not make a case without stringing together a set of outright deceptions--e.g., ALA "compelling" libraries to do anything at all. ALA does not compel libraries to act in a certain way: There's no such thing as ALA accreditation of libraries, and ALA has zero power over any library's budget. But it sure is a convenient Villain!

And, of course--OF COURSE--she conflates obscenity and child pornography (both illegal, neither defended by ALA) with pornograpy (constitutionally protected, not illegal).

She is, of course, the one trying to compel her library to do something based on her beliefs.

With regard to one other comment here: A public library that gets rid of material that offends any significant portion of its public is a public library that's pretty much useless to anyone. (I could come up with a LONG list of books I consider personally offensive, and it wouldn't be the ones good Catholic lay activists consider offensive...But I believe one role of a public library is to offer a range of viewpoints so that people can make their own decisions.)

A good public library should, as one t-shirt (I believe from a local library's Friends group) says, have something to offend everyone.

Ms. Sawicki's essay

I thought Ms. Sawicki's composition would rate about a B- in a composition class. She supports most of her arguments with sources, and cites her sources effectively. I don't agree with her position, and I am intrigued by the news that the ALA is training--or offering to train--children to get around filtering software on library computers. Can anyone verify this?

Re:Ms. Sawicki's essay

the author gives no evidence to back up this assertion, as she gives no evidence to back up many of her statements

this author admits "doesn't have time for books"

quick google reveals, from an interview/profile at:http://www.illinoisleader.com/onthefront/onthefron tview.asp?c=2161that she:"Don't have the time for books - just paragraphs. I do read a lot of book reviews - does that count? Would really like to read Bernie Goldberg's "Bias." (Aren't we all blessed to have the Illinois Leader for REAL news?)"I think that reading books would be a fundamental qualification for criticism of any sort, let alone the ALA.

Re:That tax-payer money is mine too

Sorry Mr. Nelli's aka Fang-face I don't think you get it... .this ranting and raving about as is un- necessary and off base as your rant on key word blocking. At one time it was true but why spread the myth-take now.

CIPA act requires unfettered access for adults.

That is why there is the “click through feature� in a modern filter . It means if you were to go to a porn site the .html block notification would allow you to click through anyways.

Thats the law.

If the library does not want to set the click through to “ON� then they can jump up and down responding to every request for an “over ride�.

Either way it is the same. No difference ( not counting the physical toll on the librarians).

This freedom of access also applies to Christians , Muslims, and possibly anyone else you dislike and wish to vent your hate filled assumptions.

Or possibly your just kidding and using hyperbole yo make a point and I missed that subtlety of your communication. Anyways even “fag-bashing� “baby killers have the right to a “click through� ...so what intellectual freedom are you deprived of ?

While I am on the subject you might consider the possibility that not everybody wants to see everything that exists on the web and the “block warning� would give them an opportunity to back out of “lotsasluts.com� ...uh..if they wanted to.

It is all about choice now....

This intellectual freedom myth is about as stale as “key word� blocking.

If you wish to not re-invent the wheel you can follow the evolution of this argument and its key protagonists...check out Jay Curries “library filtering blog�

http://www.libraryfilter.blogspot.com/

work backwards through the links and you will be up to speed.

Total disclosure I am the producer of The Internet Filter IF-2K

http://www.internetfilter.com

Now the children's library well thats an other problem and I'm pretty sure
“Miss Prissy Bitch� has a right to bring her kids to the children's library and
teenagehead.com as well as “explodingheads .com� is not going to fly.

I have some ideas about that ...more later...hint you will probably hate it...

some references: click through

http://www.sparkpod.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/sparkpo d.woa/wa/view?1008697

childrens library

http://www.sparkpod.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/sparkpo d.woa/wa/view?1008697

Another look at filtering

No longer is there an “intellectual freedom� issue for libraries anymore. Here is the reason why.CIPA act requires unfettered access for adults.That is why there is the “click through feature� in a modern filter . It means if you were to go to a porn site the .html block notification would allow you to click through anyways.Thats the law.If the library does not want to set the click through to “ON� then they can jump up and down responding to every request for an “over ride�.Either way it is the same. No difference ( not counting the physical toll on the librarians).If you want to follow the evolution of this argument and its key protagonists...check out Jay Curries “library filtering blog�http://www.libraryfilter.blogspot.com/work backwards through the links and you will be up to speed.Total disclosure I am the producer of The Internet Filter IF-2Khttp://www.internetfilter.comNow the children's library well thats an other problem.

Re:Another look at filtering

You might be opposed to the use of keyword blocking, Mr. Turner, but that's a far cry from there not being keyword based filtering out there.

U.S. blunders with keyword blacklist | Perspectives | CNET News.com

U.S. blunders with keyword blacklist
May 3, 2004, 8:00 AM PT
By Declan McCullagh

The U.S. government concocted a brilliant plan a few years ago: Why not give Internet surfers in China and Iran the ability to bypass their nations' notoriously restrictive blocks on Web sites?

[...]

But an independent report released Monday reveals that the U.S. government also censors what Chinese and Iranian citizens can see online. Technology used by the IBB, which puts out the Voice of America broadcasts, prevents them from visiting
Web addresses that include a peculiar list of verboten keywords. The list includes "ass" (which inadvertently bans usembassy.state.gov), "breast" (breastcancer.com), "hot" (hotmail.com and hotels.com), "pic" (epic.noaa.gov) and "teen" (teens.drugabuse.gov).

"The minute you try to temper assistance with evading censorship with judgments about how that power should be used by citizens, you start down a path from which there's no clear endpoint," said Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard University
law professor and co-author of the report prepared by the OpenNet Initiative. The report was financed in part by the MacArthur Foundation and George Soros' Open Society Institute. That's the sad irony in the OpenNet Initiative's findings: A government agency charged with fighting Internet censorship is quietly censoring the Web itself.

[...]

And I'm sure that someone will try to say that since Mr. McCullagh's political viewpoints are obviously in the wrong camp his information cannot possibly be valid. However, a fact doesn't stop being a fact just because it is uttered by someone with a viewpoint you don't like.

As for CIPA being "The Law", it is also "The Law" that I do not require your permission to look at anything I choose to. Click through features also violate that principle.

And lastly, for now, filtering computers dedicated for use by ADULTS has nothing to do with protecting children.

Re:Another look at filtering

Fang - Face wrote“You might be opposed to the use of keyword blocking, Mr. Turner, but that's a far cry from there not being keyword based filtering out there." .................................................. .............................................Turner writesIt's not so much as "I'm opposed " to "key word filtering as much as I'm exposing it as a bad idea. It is bad because more sophisticated technical options have evolved. Think of it this way. Win 3.1 was very sophisticated for the 486 computer. This would not make it a wise purchase now because things have evolved.The fact that the us government made the same mistake..perhaps I'm not understanding you ...I don't know how that would alter the point...Google is currently making the same mistake now...they are using key word blocking...still it is not a sophisticated concept and definitely not a “good idea�.Google aside...my personal reaction to the “key word blocking� argument when it comes up is “this person has disingenuously put up a red herring called “key word blocking� to make filtering look stupider than it is. However, I don't actually know what is going through another persons mind at the other end of a computer terminal ... I treat it like a genuine argument and attempt to “upgrade the thinking�... and should I be wrong ...get my “thinking upgraded� ......in this case putting “key word blocking in perspective...here it goes.....it exists .....its an old concept ......some people still use it.......it's a bad idea ...there is choice out there...get better software.There are enough stupid problems with negative filtering software as it exists.It doesn't have to be framed so 'disingenuously�Thus been said, I am aware some people still use it. That is a fact. .................................................. .................................................. .............Fang Face writes:“And I'm sure that someone will try to say that since Mr. McCullagh's political viewpoints are obviously in the wrong camp his information cannot possibly be valid. However, a fact doesn't stop being a fact just because it is uttered by someone with a viewpoint you don't like. “ .................................................. .................................................. ..............Turner writes:Declan McCuloch, I'm not sure if I know what you mean be being in the “wrong camp�. But he is and has always been extremely "anti filtering. He founded "fight - censorship" which was the hot bed of ant-censorship /filtering/censoreware rhetoric.It is too bad they have taken the archives down.I think it contained the most relevant documentation of the history of filtering in that political rhetorical area 1996-2000 (aprox). I shudder to think about what the filtering industry would have done if there were no Declan McCulughs, No Seth Finkelstein , Bennet Haselltons and quite a few more ...these are the enduring names that immediately come to mind there were many others. However, that being said I have never seen Declan McCullagh say "key word filtering� is a good idea. I suspect he'd agree with me that it is not a good idea.. I have no idea which viewpoint Declan McCullagh has that you think I don't likeI subscribe to Polytech ...some things I like about him and some things I don't. Pretty much like real life. I'm probably more in agreement with most things he might say about filtering than I would disagree with. As a matter of fact I can't actually think of anything he has said re filtering that I disagree with..but I suppose there must be something its just I can't remember everything he's said...I do however think he over generalizes and in an effort to produce volumes of material he doesn't do enough homework and fails to note the difference between “lice and fleas�...in short doesn't notice the details. This is also pretty much the state of North American Journalism ...its more of a cultural condition soI don't fault him for it. Thats the way it is if your swimming in Washington waters. .................................................. .................................................. ...Fang Face writes:“As for CIPA being "The Law", it is also "The Law" that I do not require your permission to look at anything I choose to. Click through features also violate that principle.� .................................................. .................................................. Twisting the point and personalizing it so you can arrive at any sense of “asking my permission� is in my view a cognitive malfunction.The real point of course is if libraries want the $$$ they have to be CIPA compliant.Any constructive dialog will be about how to achieve the best results.Nobody has ever asked my permission to look at anything (except for maybe my kids ...and they probably did not ask for permission much .)What the CIPA law requires is that no adult can be denied access to information. This means if a site is blocked by designfor examplelotsofsluts.com .... blocked by designor by accidentfor examplenetscape.com ..... blocked as a result of an over blocking errorthe adult has the right to "demand" the librarian manually or otherwise release the block.Then the librarian has to comply or violate the conditions of the CIPA act.to "on" and the adult can take the block notification as a warning and proceed happily to lotsasluts.com and as they say "fill their boots" or to Netscape.com where they can happily search for lotsasluts.com or what ever they wish.My permission never enters into it. I am simply the producer of filtering software with a click through feature.http://www.internetfiltering.comI have nothing to do with lobbying or even writing the US government. I have never made one sales call or sent an e-mail to a library suggesting they should filter and/or use our product. I only respond to web /telephone and e-mail requests. We are entirely “pull driven� in production and sales. We literally have no marketing but have been suppliers to those who are in business or license our product and put their own name on it.Thus said, I personally know of one of our clients (rebrander) who hired telephone soliceters and phoned every library in the USA.Personally, I think selling to libraries is a rats nest of complications. However, it is an interesting philosophical situation and of extreme interest to filtering vendors of which I am only one. And also sales = $$$ and that is also part of what we do here.There is no doubt in my mind that the "click through" handles the legal situation in a sane and responsible manor. My own legal consultants have concluded this as well as Mary Minnow. She has written a formidable legal paper for libraries:http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_4/minow/#note 3and you could also go to my consultant, Jay Currie's blog:http://www.libraryfilter.blogspot.com/and if you drill backwards you will see the evolution of the thinking processquite easily and quickly.And lastly ...I agree with you the "click through" feature has nothing to do with protecting children. That is a totally different story.One which I intend to put forward thoughtful input to this group, but for now I don't think there is any negative blocking program good enough for the "children's library". At the moment it is a case finding the "least worse " which I don't think is good enough.it is not only a matter of CIPA compliance but also of "good sense".If you went tohttp://www.sparkpod.com/turnerand drilled backwards you would see what I'm thinking of there.. but currently still researching. More on that later.
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