Library's Internet-Filtering Policy Okay

Friday, April 20, 2012, 9:55 AM

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Three library patrons in Spokane, WA are upset over their library's internet-filtering system. They claim that the aforementioned system prevented them from doing research on teen smoking and gun rights for homework projects.

The American Civil Liberties Union defended the three library patrons “in a 2006 federal lawsuit that claimed the North Central Regional Library District unconstitutionally blocked access to certain websites with a system-wide Internet filter.”

After 6 years of court debating, U.S. District Judge Edward O'Shea concluded that the NCR Library District's internet-filtering policy does not violate the First Amendment. He feels that blocking some sites that have constitutionally-protected material on them to provide a safe learning environment is a “legitimate government interest.”

For the frustrated adult patrons, they may request that the filter would unblock sites. But the judge emphasized that adults should remember that the internet is provided in part by CIPA. They need to abide by its rules.

A noteworthy fact is that if the library desires to get federal funding, it cannot allow patrons to access inappropriate material like child pornography, according to the Children's Internet Protection Act.

In spite of the case being closed, the Washington Supreme Court reviewed the case and concluded the previous ruling, that the library's policy was congruent with the state constitution.

"A public library can decide that it will not include pornography and other adult materials in its collection in accord with its mission and policies and, as explained, no unconstitutionality necessarily results," Chief Justice Barbara Madsen wrote. "It can make the same choices about Internet access.”

What do you think? Should libraries filter internet content?

I work for ContentWatch and all opinions expressed here are my own.


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