To Filter or not to Filter? Internet Filtering in Public Libraries Alex Hershey, Kelly Jensen and Janice Kowemy Public Libraries, 388K.1 October 8, 2007 Overview of Presentation • Definitions and Legislative History • Arguments For Filtering • Arguments Against Filtering • Ambivalence & Compromise • Available Materials • Questions or Comments? • Sources What is Internet Filtering? • “Technology Protection Measure” • Difference between ‘blocking’ and ‘filtering’ • Blocking - based on URL • Filtering - based on content of page How do Filters Work? Restrict access by: • comparing to internal database • comparing to external database • checking rating assigned by 3rd party • scanning text based on keywords • scanning pixels based on tone or color • looking at source of information Countless Variables • Computer v. server level • Categories of block sites • could include gambling, ads, smoking, bomb- making, alcohol, etc. • If and how admins can add or remove sites • How blocked sites can be overridden • admin v. user • If user, through link or w/ password • indefinitely v. time limit • etc. Timeline of Major Legislation • CDA - Communications Decency Act (1996) • COPA* - Child Online Protection Act (1998) • CIPA - Children’s Internet Protection Act (2000) • ALA challenges CIPA (2001) • Supreme Court upholds CIPA (2003) • DOPA - Deleting Online Predators Act (passed in House, now in Committee) *not to be confused with COPPA! CIPA: Up Close Libraries accepting e-rate discounts must operate: “…a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors”. -Title XVII, Children’s Internet Protection However… • “Whether a school or library blocks and filters content other than the visual depictions defined in the law is a local decision.” -Boss, R. W. (n.d.). “Meeting CIPA Requirements with Technology.” Internet Filtering Software. Public Library Association. Who Falls Where? (Organizations) • Anti-Filtering • ALA • ACLU • National Coalition Against Censorship • Free Expression Policy Project • Pro-Filtering • SafeLibraries.org • Family Friendly Libraries • Grassroots American Values • Citizens for Community Values Who Falls Where? (Individuals) • Anti-Filtering: • Nancy Kranich (ALA prez 2000-2001) • Karen G. Schneider (former dir. of LII, current Free Range Librarian) • Vicky Rideout (VP, Kaiser Family Foundation) • Pro-Filtering: • Denise Varenhorst (prez of FFL) • Judy Craft (VP of FFL) Why Public Libraries Filter? Overview • Political Pressures • Front-line Pressures • Community Influences • Practical Issues “I used to be against filtering as censorship. However, the proliferation of obscenity and violence has changed my opinion. I got tired of spending my time monitoring screens for porn and warning users that they were in violation of library policy. Most adults don’t want to see it either.” -Texas Public Librarian A. Smith, 2006 Why We Filter • Political Pressures • Funding sources • Front-line Pressures • Employee experience • Example: Austin Public Library, TX “As a younger librarian, I was all for freedom of Internet access to information for all patrons regardless of age, but after many years (and many unwanted exposures..), I believe that a line must be drawn somewhere if our public libraries are to be a friendly community center for learning.” -Texas Public Librarian A. Smith, 2006 Why We Filter • Community Influences • Example: Laguna Public Library, NM • Family environment • Physical characteristics • Size of library • Layout of the library • Number of employees Why We Filter • Practical Pressures • Willingness of library staff • Unfocused activities • Software usability “I originally was against filtering the Internet. I thought that people would not look at pornography in a public place. I was wrong.” -Texas Public Librarian A. Smith, 2006 In Summary • Public Libraries choose to filter due to: • Funding pressures • Staff needs • Maintaining a family environment • Physical constraints of the facility • Practical issues The Case Against Filtering Overview - First Amendment Rights - American Library Association Stance - Filter Faults First Amendment • “Congress Shall Make No Law Respecting an Establishment of Religion, or Prohibiting the Free Exercise Thereof; or Abridging the Freedom of Speech, or of the Press; or the Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble, and To Petition the Government for a Redress of Grievances” - Bill of Rights, ratified December 15, 1791 How Does the Internet Relate? • Reno v. ACLU, 1997 Limitations • Miller v. California, 1973 • “Average Person Applying Contemporary Standards” (ALA First Amendment Court Cases 2007) • New York v. Ferber, 1982 • Expands Upon Miller v. California, 1973 What About Children? • Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969 ALA’s Stance • Supportive of Constitution • Intellectual Freedom & Library Bill of Rights • Rights of Children 7 Core Values of the Library • Equity of Access • Privacy • Democracy • Diversity • Education • Intellectual Freedom • Security Categories Courtesy of Kranich 2005 Why Filters Won’t Work • Under/Over Blocking • Keeping Up • How They Work • Age • Disabling • Maintenance cost Categories Courtesy of Kranich, 2004 Under/Over Blocking • “NO internet filter is 100% effective. Occasionally an unwanted site may appear to the user if they make a concerted effort to find one that does not trigger the filtering mechanism, and sometimes even if they are not. […] There are many times when people's interpretations vary from one another, and for this reason internet filters frequently err on the side of caution - if a site may offend somebody then it is made inaccessible.” - www.internet-filtering.net Under/Over Blocking • Filters Catch Legitimate Material • According to FEPR (2004), Keyword Filtering Blocks “magna cum laude” and “Middlesex” • Category Blocking is Broad: “Politics” “Intolerance” and “Alternative Lifestyle” Have Impacted Research on U. Kansas’s Archie R. Dyke Library and a Site for Aspiring Dentists as ‘Adult/Sexually Explicit’, According to FEPR Under/Over Blocking • The government’s own report suggested 6-15% of blocked sites shouldn’t have been blocked Kranich, 2005 Keeping Up With the Internet • Filters Aren’t Perfect • Sheer Size of the Internet and Amount of Material Makes This Impossible • English and Foreign Languages How Filters (Don’t) Work • Non-adaptive to Range of Users • Understanding How Filters (Don’t) Work • Libraries an Emerging Market • 75 million dollar profit increase over 3 years (ACLU 2002) • Not Enough Librarian Control; Key Word Filters Overly Restrictive; Subjectivity • Not Enough Research to Make Decisions Imperfections • Because Filters are Imperfect, Savvy Internet Users Can Bypass Them. • Search “Internet Filtering” on YouTube and Discover Many Ways to Break Through the Filters. Role of Libraries (Age) • Librarians Do Not Serve In Loco Parentis • However, the Supreme Court Decisions Have Suggested a Role of Librarians Has Become “Unblocker” (Ratzan 2004) Age • “Swimming pools pose some threat to the safety and wellbeing of children. But swimming pools provide benefits to their owners - and children - in many different ways. Technology - in the form of fences around pools, pool alarms, and locks - can help protect children from drowning in swimming pools. However, teaching a child to swim - and when to avoid pools - is a far safer approach than relying on locks, fences, and alarms to prevent him or her from drowning.” -- (NRC, 2001 cited in Kranich, 2004). Age & Disabling Filters • False Security • Parenting • Problems in Accessing Necessary Information • Information Literacy Maintenance Cost • CIPA & Funding • Cost of Software, Time Spent Unblocking, Training, Changing Internet, Updating Software = ? ? ? In Summary • Filtering Violates First Amendment Rights • ALA Upholds First Amendment and Core Value of Intellectual Freedom • Filters Simply Do Not Work • Not Developed or Understood Well • Costs of Filters in Time, Money and Potential Litigation Not Worth Funding Ambivalence & Compromise • “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” • 67.7% of Texas public librarians believe that the Internet should be filtered for at least some patrons. • Around 43% of public libraries filtered to some extent in 2005. Checklist for Internet Use Policy • Ensure that policies speak to access for all. • Involve your library staff, board and Friends group in the policy writing. • Avoid jargon. • Make policies readily available and visible to the public. • Provide an up-to-date code of conduct or etiquette guide for using the Internet at your library. Also list prohibited behavior and the consequences of such behavior. • Include a statement addressing patron privacy. • Communicate clearly that users are responsible for what they access online; parents are responsible for their children's Internet use. • Update your policy regularly, making sure it reflects CIPA. -Checklist for Creating an Internet Use Policy Libraries & the Internet Toolkit, Office of Intellectual Freedom, ALA. Filtering Software 2.0 • e.g., OpenChoice • Open source • Free • Non-proprietary • Completely transparent • Developed and maintained by volunteer librarians Material • Text of CIPA - www.ifeanet/cipa.pdf • ALA’s stance - Resolution on the Use of Filtering Software in Libraries http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/statements policies.htm#internet • Internet Filtering: Public Policy Report - http://www. fepproject.org/policyreports/filters2intro.html Material (continued) • PLA: Meeting CIPA Requirements with Technology - www.pla.org/ala/pla/plapubs/technotes/interfiltering.cfm • ALA’s Guidelines and Considerations for Developing a Public Library Internet Use Policy - http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/statementspolicies.htm #internet • Library Software Filters. Lori Bowen Ayre - www.libraryfiltering.org • Karen G. Schneider’s Practical Guide To Internet Filters, 1997. Questions or Comments? References American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). (2002). Censorship in a box: why blocking software is wrong for public libraries. Retrieved September 26, 2007 from: http://www.aclu.org/privacy/speech/14915pub20020916.html. American Library Association, Intellectual Freedom Committee. (1996). Library Bill of Rights. Retrieved September 27, 2007, from http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/statementsif/librarybillrights.htm. American Library Association, Office for Intellectual Freedom. (2007). First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution. Retrieved September 26, 2007, from http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/firstamendment/firstamendment.htm. American Library Association, Office for Intellectual Freedom. (2007). First Amendment court cases. Retrieved September 26, 2007, from http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/firstamendment/courtcases/courtcases.htm#wsu. Ennis, Bruce. (2001). ALA intellectual freedom policies and the First Amendment. Retrieved September 28, 2007, from http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/basics/alaintellectual.htm. Free Expression Policy Report (FERP) of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. (2004). Internet filters: a public policy report. Retrieved September 27, 2007, from: http://www.fepproject.org/policyreports/filters2.pdf. . References (cont.) Kranich, N. (2004). Why filters won’t protect children or adults. Library Administration and Management, 18 (1), 14-18. Kranich, N. (2005). Filtering materials on the internet contradicts the value of open access to material. Public Libraries, 44 (1), 198-200. Lininger, D. (2001). Internet filters: useful tools. Teacher Librarian, 29 (1), 28-9. McCook, K. (2004). Introduction to Public Librarianship. New York: Neal-Schuman. Ratzan, J. (2004). CIPA and the roles of public librarians. Public Libraries, 43 (5), 285-290. Efron, M., Smith, A. and Roy, L. (2005, Fall). OpenChoice: an internet filter for public libraries. Texas Library Journal. Smith, A. (2006, Winter). Internet filtering policy and attitudes in Texas libraries. Texas Library Journal. 82 (4), 148-151. Willems, H. (1998). Filtering in libraries: the case (mostly) against. Computers in Libraries, 18 (3), 55-58.
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