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Monday, September 06, 2004

Libraries & filters: Fresh reports

After the arrest of an alleged child molester who was accessing porn in a Phoenix, Ariz., library, the city is pushing for regulations that would "bar adults from disabling filters designed to block objectionable Web pages on library computers," the Arizona Republic reports. Opponents say the city's regs would violate people's free-speech rights. "Previously, such stances, whether at the state, local or national level, have been contentious, uphill battles, marked by emotional rhetoric and standing-room-only crowds. And more often than not, the cases have ended in high-profile lawsuits," the Republic adds, saying the mayor and a majority of the City Council are ready for the fight. Meanwhile, in Portland, Ore., Molly Raphael, director of the Multnomah County libraries, is proposing that all Internet searches by children 12 and younger be filtered unless parents or guardians want them to have unlimited access, the Associated Press reports. Patrons 13-16 could access anything under the proposal, which Raphael said tries to introduce flexibility and a choice for parents. A critic, Stephanie Vardavas, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Library, said that filters "aimed at blocking X-rated material also screened out a link to Shakespeare's complete plays and the full text of Jane Eyre. One filter even blocked a search for the site for the 30th Super Bowl because it was listed as Super Bowl XXX, she said." Library officials' response was that every filter is different.


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