The Role of Public Librarians in Determining Internet Access
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.
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