Free Expression Policy Project on Censorware

Seth Finkelstein writes "Free
Expression Policy Project
has a press release on
censorware and the "COPA" decision: "Ironically, in view of the ACLU's educational materials pointing out
the massive censorship potential of filters, the ACLU and its fellow
plaintiffs now presented experts touting filters' virtues, while the
government, which had praised filters a few years earlier when it
successfully defended a federal law that mandated their use in schools
and libraries now pointed out their flaws. The ACLU explained its
apparent inconsistency by saying that filters are fine as long as
nobody is compelled to use them.""


Libraries tackle child porn risk

The BBC Reports Scottish Borders Council has said its checks are working at local libraries after a Galashiels man was convicted of downloading child pornography. "We further tightened up on our procedures and our ability to monitor if internet users have been accessing illegal sites."

That resulted in improved computer servers and new software being installed.

"If we come across areas that we are concerned about then the police have been quite clear that we should pass information on to them," said Mr Brown.

TV News Causes Rochester Library Board to Review It's Porn Policy

After a report on an NBC affiliate last month about the availability of pornographic materials at the Monroe County Library System in upstate New York, the library board has buckled down to study the issue with a special task force.

This article and TV clip shows scenes from the broadcast, along with a stern-faced County Executive Maggie Brooks who directed the library board to immediately prevent access, even to adults, of CIPA filtered sites. She has also threatened to pull nearly seven million dollars in funding if the library fails to permanently change its internet porn policy.


Morality is the real 'inconvenient truth'

"Morality is the real 'inconvenient truth'." Frank Miele thanks the American Library Association, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Supreme Court for the mess our country has become. "Indeed, our society today has been so habituated to immoral behavior that most of us don't even know it is immoral any longer."

"Backed by one court order after another, what could be called the apotheosis of the individual has made it almost impossible for modern society to regulate itself as a group. The group must always bow to the individual, not the other way around. This sounds great to our liberty-loving people until you realize that the proper word for such a system is anarchy."

New York State Bill S2298- Protecting Children in the Internet Age

Jean Armour Polly sent an email to the NYLINE List with a link to Bill S2298- The NYS Public Library Filtering Bill. It was introduced into the NY Senate last month, "in relation to requiring filtering software on computers in public libraries and schools to prevent minors from viewing indecent materials." John A. DeFrancisco is the man with the plan to protect children from Internet predators, child pornography, exploitive "child modeling" web sites, and child prostitution. His call is in response to a report issued by the Senate Majority entitled "Protecting Children in the Internet Age."

I don't seem to be able to link directly to the text O' the bill, but you can start Here and search for bill # S2298. It's current status "REFERRED TO EDUCATION"


Pima County Libraries Struggle With Censorware

Seth Finkelstein writes "An opinion column on censorware in libraries describes how it will "block material that might be obscenity or child pornography, but also material protected by the First Amendment.
As the head librarian for the city of Phoenix, Toni Garvey, told the committee, "filters block things that are perfectly legal and useful, and you don't know what you've blocked."""


Rochester Library passes resolution on porn issue

Follow Up from Raochester, NY, where, like any good library board, a new committee was formed! Wednesday morning a joint board meeting brought together trustees from the county library system and the Rochester Public Library. They passed a resolution creating a task force which will spend the next 30 days studying the issue to figure out what they can do to balance child protection and first amendment rights. More


Library porn policy stuns clueless exec

News From Rochester, NY where the County Executive has apparently been asleep for the past decade.

In a strongly worded letter to Paula Smith, director of the county library system, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks said she was "stunned" and "mortified" that the library would allow people, upon request, to obtain access to pornographic sites.

Brooks is threatening to halt about $7.5 million in county funding for the downtown library if it doesn't tighten restrictions. The loss of the money, about 70 percent of the library's budget, would essentially put the library out of business and cripple the library system in Monroe County.
Don't worry, she's doing it, for the children... "As a mother I was horrified to see our community's children put in a position of being exposed to matters beyond their comprehension in some cases, in a place designed for learning," Brooks said.

From Bess to Worse

Slashdot: From Bess to Worse. An unusually long essay over at Slashdot takes a look at filtering, Bess in particular..

"...result? I'm still tabulating data, but it looks as if the accuracy rate is roughly the same as it was in 2000, when about 30% of blocked sites were obvious errors. Then and now, I found most of the errors by starting with a large list of URLs culled from search engines and other sources, and simply running them through the software to see what was blocked."

ACLU-WA Library Censorware Lawsuit Article

Seth Finkelstein writes "Here's a article covering the ongoing Washington State libary censorware lawsuit: "At the heart of the federal case is the right to unfettered access to legal materials on the Internet in rural areas, where broadband connections are generally fewer and farther between than in urban and suburban America.""


The Geopolitics of Asian Cyberspace

Seth Finkelstein writes "Far Eastern Economic Review —
The Geopolitics of Asian Cyberspace
(Ronald Deibert): "The increased sophistication of Internet content filtering practices
can be attributed, in part, to the services provided by Western
(mostly U.S.-based) software and Internet service firms. Whereas once
the best and brightest of Silicon Valley were associated with wiring
the world, and opening up access to vast stores of information, today
they are just as likely to be known for doing the opposite. Although
Microsoft, Cisco, Yahoo!, Skype, and Google have all come under
scrutiny for colluding with China's Internet censorship practices,
perhaps the most significant, serious, and yet overlooked contribution to Internet censorship by Western corporations comes from the manufacturers of the filtering software used to block content.""


Mount Clemens PL pulls plug on internet access

RobertL writes "An article in the online edition of the
 reports that the Mount Clemens Public Library in Michigan is no longer
providing intenet access for patrons because of a '"large increase" in
visitors using the free Internet service to access what the library termed
obscene material in violation of library policies.'"


ACLU-WA Sues Library Over Censorware

Seth Finkelstein writes "Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, three library users and a nonprofit organization today brought suit to ensure that patrons of a library system in Eastern Washington have access to useful and lawful information on the Internet. The lawsuit challenges the library system's policy of using a restrictive Internet filter to bar access to information on its computers and of refusing to honor requests by adult patrons to temporarily disable the filter for sessions of uncensored reading and research."


Hartford CT Library Calls Police on Sex Offender

Anonymous Patron writes "A convicted sex offender was observed using a public terminal at the Hartford Public Library for what a library official called "inaappropriate activity". The homeless man was subsequently arrested on "charges of breach of peace and possession of child pornography". The Courant reports ."


Miami-Dade Public Library Backslides On Censorware

Seth Finkelstein writes "In response to previous
Miami-Dade Public Library Censorware Frustrations, the library
said it would improve unblocking procedures. The lastest
report from Michael Froomkin is "a good chunk of that statement is now inoperative. ... it represents a grave breach of faith with library patrons. How many other whitelisted sites have been surreptitiously re-blocked?""


Screens to hide porn at Arizona libraries

Anonymous Patron writes " The Tucson-Pima Public Library will install privacy screens around its computers so passers-by won't be exposed to pornography.The Pima County Board of Supervisors adopted that policy on Tuesday in response to concerns about viewing of online pornography at library branches.But they postponed a decision on whether to require the use of filters on all computers, instead of just children's computers. They want to create a committee to study the issue, but they set no deadline for recommendations."


Lubbock, TX Libraries Considering Porn Filters

kctipton writes "Here in of the nation's most conservative counties, the issue has finally come up that the Lubbock city council wants internet porn totally filtered, with the Mayor Pro Tem sharing an anecdotal story (and I doubt it's true) that "his daughter was recently using a public library computer and noticed the gentleman next to her was looking at a sexually explicit Web site." (If you view the article above you'll see a picture that shows the way that many (but not all) of the terminals at the library's four branches are secluded below eye level.)

"Instead of filters, Lubbock libraries require parental approval if children under the age of 17 want to use the Internet."

So, with this sort of arrangement, why demand filters? Politics is my guess, knowing what I know about this town. The article goes on to explain why the Lubbock libraries don't filter, why many libraries don't filter, and how filtering has been shown to not be as effective as some people want it to be."


MD Libraries Rethink Unrestricted Web

Anonymous Patron writes "Washington Post: The Howard County library system is reviewing its highly unusual procedure of allowing its patrons unfettered access to the Internet. In recent years, most public library systems in Maryland have installed Internet filtering programs that block access to Web sites containing obscene or pornographic material. Howard officials are tracking usage of the computers to see whether and how often patrons are accessing objectionable sites, said Charles J. Broida, a trustee who also serves a counsel to the library system. The tracking method does not reveal the identities of patrons, but it does show what they're viewing."


Congress eyes Net porn laws

From The AP: Internet providers told Congress on Tuesday they're doing all they can to combat online child pornography, but they were told to expect legislation.

Several providers voiced skepticism about creating new laws that would force them to retain data about their users' online activity.

Any such measure would be costly, easily circumvented and would ``fall far short of its intended goal,'' AOL chief counsel John Ryan told a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing.

Lawmakers, however, said more must be done to stop the availability of child porn on the Web and chat rooms where pedophiles troll for young victims.

A state government discovers filtering's limits

jepling writes "State's effort to block Web sites has plenty of holes: Inconsistency sparks criticismKentucky state employees can still surf to humor, sports, blogs, and other sites despite efforts to filter them. The state's campaign to filter Web sites has not been entirely successful, as shown by a reporter's sampling of sites on a state computer. The purpose of the filtering is to keep state employees focused on state business while on state time. Louisville Courier-Journal has the scoop"



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