Backers of library filters win in Michigan Reports A group of Ypsilanti residents who want to install Internet filters on the Ypsilanti District Library's computers scored a victory Tuesday, ousting two incumbents and signaling a possible change in the board's views on filters.


Phoenix not Getting Support from Nearby Town

More reaction to the Phoenix city council's decision to mandate filtering for all library computers comes from the nearby city of Wickenberg (AZ) where the city council was asked to send a letter of support.

The issue of sending a letter supporting the Phoenix City Council on its decision to censor material at its libraries died after 3-3 vote last week.

What makes this story a little more interesting is what I assume is a poorly worded statement from Wickenberg Library board Vice President Helen Dudley (emphasis mine)

It's our opinion that we have no problem in the Wickenburg library with persons using our computers to secure pornography.... Furthermore, it is our opinion that the Wickenburg library staff is very capable of monitoring the computer room.

Wickenburg AZ Won't Accept Filtering

Despite the edict that Phoenix public libraries will now filter all computers, the town of Wickenburg (50 miles north of Phoenix) is refusing to go along with it. Story from the Wickenburg Sun located in a retirement community in the Sonoran desert.

The library board voted last week against giving the Town Council its support on the issue. Library board Vice President Helen Dudley moved "that the library board take no action now regarding a request for support of the censorship action taken by the Phoenix City Council. "It's our opinion that we have no problem in the Wickenburg library with persons using our computers to secure pornography," she added. "Furthermore, it is our opinion that the Wickenburg library staff is very capable of monitoring the computer room."


Patrons Weigh in On Phoenix Filters

Several patrons of the Phoenix Public Library were recently asked their opinion of the new filter system installed after the city passed legislation that supercedes CIPA. With this law, patrons, adult or otherwise are not allowed to request disabling of the filter. While not a random sample, nearly all those interviewed for this Arizona Republic article think the mandatory filtering is just fine.

Brittany Jones, 19, who applies for clerical jobs online, was surprised when she logged on recently and the computer asked her to select "basic filtering," which bans sex but not violence, or "additional filtering," which blocks sites dealing with either topic.

"I had no idea what it meant," she said.

But she agrees with the restrictions.

"The filters are no violation of rights because pornography causes violence," she said.


ACLU to Challenge Phoenix's City-Mandated Filtering

After the Phoenix city council passed a resolution to have all public library internet terminals filtered, the ACLU has filed a challenge.

"The (U.S.) Supreme Court ruling reaffirmed that porn is protected speech under the First Amendment, but it didn't rule that city libraries must provide access to porn," [Phoenix Mayor Phil] Gordon said. "You don't see pornographic books and magazines on library shelves. We're confident we'll win any court challenge to the new policy. It's the right thing to do and our attorneys agree, so we'll prevail in court."

More here from


Filters Working and a compromise

An Anonymous Patron writes "Here's one from The Daily Herald (Suburban Chicago's Information Source) that takes a good look at filters. They say as libraries wrestle with the decision of whether to filter computers, administrators must deal with colliding issues such as upholding a community standard, honoring the right to privacy and protecting someone's right to access anything that isn't illegal on a public computer."


Pennsylvania child porn-blocking law tossed

Fang-Face writes "The First Amendment Center has an AP article about the Pennsylvanian filtering law being struck down.

No one challenged the state's right to stop the distribution of child porn, but lawyers for the Center for Democracy & Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union had argued that the technology used to filter out those Web sites was clumsy and produced unintended consequences.

The court agreed that those consequences were not constitutionally reasonable. I'm sure censors will ignore the fact that filtering is sloppy work and focus instead on complaining about liberal judges, wrong-wing conspiracies, etc, etc, etc."


Censored Internet Access at Phoenix Public Libraries

An Anonymous Patron sends "this from KPHO Phoenix The internet at Phoenix libraries is officially censored. Phoenix City Council unanimously voted to block all on-line pornographic material, going a step beyond CIPA which allows for patrons 17 and older to request that filters or blocking software be turned off.
Opponents say the decision goes against the U-S supreme court. Proponents of the law say hallelujah and feel like the library will be a safer place."


If you want a peep show, use your own quarters

Anonymous Patron writes "If you want a peep show, use your own quarters says First Amendment jurisprudence has become screwed up. Robert Robb says the logical reasoning that gets from the First Amendment's "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech" to "cities shall provide taxpayer-funded pornography" is, not to make too fine a point of it, nuts."


Phoenix Looks for Porn Solution

Even though the Arizona state legislature is looking at legislation that would mandate filtering, the Phoenix is looking to make it illegal for patrons to request filter disabling at the city level. While there are tons of "libraries looking at filtering options" stories this one about Phoenix's library system is interesting for this statement from the Arizona Republic:

Other cities, such as San Francisco and Salt Lake City, have opted to forgo federal funding to keep computers filter-free. Officials in Des Plaines, Ill., recently enacted what some say is a very creative solution: Their filters stay on all the time, but block only pornographic images, not text.

It's my understanding that CIPA requires that ONLY graphic images be blocked in the first place, but that such filtering technology is not widely available or on the market. Anyone have any clues about this, or is it a misrepresentation? If there is such a filter, I'd like to buy stock.

Also, the way this story, and many are written, the average reader would believe that it's perfectly okay to access obscene materials in libraries and elsewhere. Obscenity and child porn are illegal. Period.


Multnomah Considers Filtering

An article in USA Today focuses on a decision that Multnomah Cty Library Director Molly Raphael will soon be making regarding the filtering of ALL internet searches for children twelve and under (unless parental permission is given).

FOL President Stephanie Vardavas points out the problems with this kind of all-inclusive filtering: "One filter even blocked a search for the site for the 30th Super Bowl because it was listed as Super Bowl XXX, she said.

"What it comes down to is that filters aren't good at assessing content," Vardavas said. "They're good at applying rules."

Library officials say there are scores of Internet filters on the market but their uses can vary.

The filter currently used by the county uses a "low threshold" that weeds out pornography, Raphael said, but also sites dealing with breast cancer and other subjects.

"It's not a perfect system, no matter what kind of filter you have," she said. "We're trying to provide some flexibility so parents can make a choice."


Phoenix Mayor: Ban Library Internet Porn

The mayor of Phoenix, AZ, and a coalition of city council members are going up against the First Amendment to restrict library Internet access to pornography. City leaders want to restrict library patrons' ability to view pornography through libraries' publicly provided Internet access following the arrest last week of a child molester who viewed kiddie porn on library machines. According to one official, "The fact that it is legal for someone as an individual to view pornography doesn't mean that there is a constitutional obligation for the city, as a public entity, to provide everyone access to it." Read all about it.


Corvallis, Oregon struggle over filtering

The Corvallis-Benton County library in Oregon is testing out filters on their public-access computers after a citizens' group requested that filters be installed on children's computers. The head of the library system is concerned about filters restricting access to non-pornographic websites, but has agreed to try out a filter on one computer each in the children's and adult section. SILive (Staten Island) has a story, as does, but the latter makes you sign in.


Parents urge more Net filters in library

A Report From The Daily Hearlad says a small group of residents have pushed the Des Plaines Public Library to meet with them Tuesday about the current Internet policy.
A parent is concerned because she recently saw a man viewing what she would call pornographic images on an adult library computer while he was inappropriately touching himself.


How Filtering Works at the Library

The Grand Island (NE) Independent takes a look at how the system of filtering computers works in a library. They make a few comparisons to school computer use policies and a few illustrations as to how funding is affected. Read More.


The Web-Porn Patrol

Anonymous Patron sends " this brief article in Time magazine about how to keep x-rated (and more) content away from kids. Not a lot of depth or new info for those of us in the trenches. I do have to wonder if this person has kids, because of this statement:

This $40 program (available at can run in a stealth mode so your kids don't notice it's there. When they try to log on to a blocked site, they are presented with either a blank page or a standard error message that reads, "This page cannot be displayed."

My kids are smart enough to know that if they keep getting error messages on their favorite websites, something's up."


FEPP commentary on "COPA" and censorware

Seth Finkelstein writes "The Free Expression Policy Project has some excellent
commentary on the
"COPA" net censorship decision

The Right Decision; The Wrong Reason

"Equally important, this victory has dug us ever deeper into the
Internet filtering trap - the embrace of a technological "fix" that,
with its mechanistic, heavy-handed use of key words and phrases in
place of context, nuance, and human judgment, censors far more speech,
and far more irrationally, than even a vague criminal law. Magna cum
laude graduates, fans of "Marsexploration," and lovers of "pussy
willows" beware.""


Libraries Choose to Filter or Not As CIPA Deadline Arrives

Fang-Face writes "Again from American Libraries Online,
a very brief look at how some libraries are reacting to CIPA. Not at all happily; the piece has an air of doom and gloom more than anything. I think they might have gone a bit overboard on that score."


A parent's guide to Linux Web filtering

Bob Cox spotted a Newsforge Piece on how to set up parental Web filters for children using Linux. The only software you need to set up parental filters under GNU/Linux is iptables, DansGuardian, and Squid.

DansGuardian is the actual filtering software. It supports phrase matching, which allow you to block out Web sites that contain certain phrases or words; PICS filtering, which blocks content that's been labeled as possibly objectionable material by the creator of the Web site; URL filtering, to block content from specific sites that are known to contain offensive material; and blacklists, or lists of sites that contain content you want to block. Blacklists usually come from third parties, though you can create and maintain your own.


Censorware Company's Study Results "Were Fabricated"

Seth Finkelstein writes ".NU Domain Ltd has issued
a press release
that "Numbers in Secure Computing Study on Web Porn
Were Fabricated and Defame the Tiny Nation of Niue". It explains that for

"The more Web pages it can list in its filter the more
protection it can claim to be providing, so in an apparent attempt
boost the count, Secure Computing has included thousands of inactive
and expired domain names, and the millions of Web pages associated
with them, in its SmartFilter(R) v4 Control List. "The number of
pornographic Web pages it has listed as being associated with the .nu
domain name is wildly inflated as a result," said
[President of .NU Domain Ltd William Semich].""



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