December 1, 2011

Grand jury again pushes porn filter for Santa Rosa, CA library

The Sonoma County grand jury again has addressed what it sees as problems of access to pornography in public libraries, calling for filters to be installed on computers in the children’s section while their effectiveness is gauged.

Pornography filters are “still an important issue that needs to be dealt with. It is a fact that minors may be exposed to pornographic images of a shocking and offensive nature,” the grand jury wrote in the report, released Wednesday afternoon.

The library’s reluctance, however, has been that filters are not 100 percent effective, and some offensive material will still get through while legitimate material is blocked.

“Someone who has breast cancer who wants to research treatment can’t get it because the filter prevents it, and it may not filter out other things that may be offensive,” said Melissa Kelley, vice chairwoman of the Sonoma County Library Commission.

There are also First Amendment issues, said Margaret Lynch, commission chairwoman.

“We do have people who are actively reviewing how we can do this. It is an issue of the American Library Association, we are not the only library to deal with it,” Lynch said. “It is trying to strike that balance.”

The grand jury last year recommended the Central Library move the public access computers to a side wall and install pornography filters.

This year’s grand jury also believes that the filters may be more effective than the library commission believes, filtering 85 percent of the objectional material and blocking 15 percent of the legitimate material.

Read more the article here: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20100630/ARTICLES/100639947

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