Internet Filtering in Public Libraries by dfhdhdhdhjr


									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
• CIPA - Children’s Internet Protection Act
• 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
                             -Title XVII, Children’s Internet Protection
• “Whether a school or library blocks and
  filters content other than the visual
  depictions defined in the law is a local

 -Boss, R. W. (n.d.). “Meeting CIPA Requirements with Technology.” Internet
 Filtering Software. Public Library Association.
            Who Falls Where?
• Anti-Filtering
   •   ALA
   •   ACLU
   •   National Coalition Against Censorship
   •   Free Expression Policy Project

• Pro-Filtering
   •   Family Friendly Libraries
   •   Grassroots American Values
   •   Citizens for Community Values
          Who Falls Where?
• 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?

•   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
- First Amendment Rights

- American Library Association

- 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

• Reno v. ACLU, 1997

• 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.” -
       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
      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
• 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

• However, the Supreme Court Decisions
  Have Suggested a Role of Librarians
  Has Become “Unblocker” (Ratzan 2004)
• “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 Literacy
        Maintenance Cost
• CIPA & Funding

• Cost of Software, Time Spent
  Unblocking, Training, Changing
  Internet, Updating Software = ? ? ?
             In Summary
• Filtering Violates First Amendment
• 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
• Text of CIPA - www.ifeanet/cipa.pdf

• ALA’s stance - Resolution on the Use of Filtering
  Software in Libraries

• Internet Filtering: Public Policy Report - http://www.

• PLA: Meeting CIPA Requirements with Technology -

• ALA’s Guidelines and Considerations for Developing a Public
  Library Internet Use Policy -

• Library Software Filters. Lori Bowen Ayre -

• Karen G. Schneider’s Practical Guide To Internet Filters, 1997.
Questions or Comments?
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). (2002). Censorship in a box: why blocking software is wrong for public libraries. Retrieved September 26,

                2007 from:

American Library Association, Intellectual Freedom Committee. (1996). Library Bill of Rights. Retrieved September 27, 2007, from


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

American Library Association, Office for Intellectual Freedom. (2007). First Amendment court cases. Retrieved September 26, 2007, from


Ennis, Bruce. (2001). ALA intellectual freedom policies and the First Amendment. Retrieved September 28, 2007, from


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:

                          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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