To Filter or Not to Filter:
The Role of Public Librarians in Determining Internet Access
Introduction
Librarian's Role
Filters
Children and Harm
Legal Issues
Library Solutions
Links to free speech, filter and porn sites
References

LEGAL ISSUES:

INTERNET FILTERING AND PROTECTION OF MINORS

INTERNET FILTERING IN PUBLIC LIBRARIES

In 1998, in Mainstream Loudoun v. Board of Trustees of Loudoun County, a federal district court judge ruled that the library's policy of mandating the installation of Internet filtering software on all library computers was unconstitutional. Judge Leonie Brinkema, a former librarian, stated that the policy was overly inclusive and not narrowly tailored since less restrictive means were available to protect children from materials deemed "harmful." Brinkema also said that the Internet is a "single integrated system," much like a set of encyclopedias, and the library board's policy could be likened to blackening out parts of the encyclopedia which are considered inappropriate.

In her decision, Brinkema listed several less restrictive alternatives that the library board could have implemented:

PROTECTION OF MINORS

Although the Supreme Court has consistently held that states have "a compelling interest in safeguarding the physical and psychological well-being of a minor" (see New York v. Ferber and Ginsberg v. New York , for example), the government cannot prevent adults' access to constitutionally protected speech. However, the Court has stated that regulations could be implemented to prevent minors from accessing pornography.

For example:


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To Filter or Not to Filter: The Role of Public Librarians in Determining Internet Access
Copyright (C) 1999 by Barbara H. Smith, University of Florida

All rights reserved. No portion of this document may be reproduced without the written consent of the author.

Please e-mail questions or comments to: bhsmith@ufl.edu