City of Phoenix, Arizona bans Internet porn at libraries
Sep 09, 2004 10:48 AM
by Daniel H. Caldwell
Some readers on this forum may find this of some interest.
I know Paul Johnson will.
Phoenix bans Internet porn at libraries
Council vote may lead to court battle for city
Ginger D. Richardson
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 9, 2004 12:00 AM
Permanent filters OKd on library computers
A determined City Council declared Wednesday that pornography will no
available at Phoenix libraries, an action that could lead to a
with First Amendment advocates.
Phoenix's new policy, which will filter all Internet sessions for
adult users, is
unusually stringent and appears to be the first of its kind among the
cities, a number of First Amendment advocates say.
The new regulations, which take away library patrons' ability to surf
the Web without
restrictions, took effect immediately and could be implemented today.
The City Council's unanimous vote disappointed many, including a
visibly upset Toni
Garvey, Phoenix's public library director, and prompted the local
leader of the
American Civil Liberties Union to say, "This will end up in the
Eleanor Eisenberg, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona, stopped
short of saying
that her organization would take the city to court in the near future
but did say,
"We've heard from people who are concerned about this. We have
The threat did little to sway Mayor Phil Gordon and Vice Mayor Peggy
said they are fully prepared for a legal battle.
"I am willing to take this to court," Bilsten said. "Too many times,
we stop short of what we want to do because we are afraid of it going
"I think this is a great case."
"I don't believe that in our library, which is designed to be family-
we should be obliged to provide access to these materials," Gordon
we are to be sued, then let the courts decide this case."
The city moved quickly to adopt the policy, which was prompted by
last month's arrest
of a child molester who told police that he had downloaded child
the Phoenix Public Library.
The arrest "shook the very foundation of what I believe we are here
and that is protect families," Bilsten said.
The city's plan has received support from Maricopa County Attorney
dozens of residents who called and e-mailed the city, and Glendale
Scruggs, who told Gordon she intends to bring a similar proposal
before her own
Previous Phoenix city regulations mandated that filters, which are
designed to block
obscene materials and Web pages by targeting key words, phrases or
remain turned on at all times in the libraries' children's areas and
under the age of 17.
But those rules, like those in most other municipalities nationwide,
residents the option of disabling the filters.
The council's action Wednesday changes all that. Some opponents fear
that the city
has had a knee-jerk reaction to one particular incident and, in
adopting the new
policy, has gone too far.
The ACLU, the American Library Association and other staunch First
say the filters the council is installing are overly broad and
imprecise at best.
Eisenberg and others say that the filters might mistakenly, for
example, block Internet
sites that deal with breast cancer, AIDS research or sexual education.
They also argue that installing such software puts the city at the
mercy of software
providers' personal biases and prejudices.
For that reason, members of the city's Library Advisory Board advised
week not to adopt the policy.
Garvey, the city's librarian, did not attend that meeting but she was
Wednesday's vote. She did not speak and left the meeting quickly,
Later, she issued a statement saying that she "will of course follow
of (the) City Council to make Internet use at the Phoenix Public
Library safe and
enjoyable for all of our families and citizens."
Board member Robert Villaseņor Jr., however, told council members
that he didn't
think they "could prevail on this."
"I am here as a citizen, but I am also a member of the library board,"
Villaseņor said. " . . . And I am telling you that you will be
removing a great
wealth of information that ought to be available and is protected
under the First
But resident Marti Winkler urged the council to proceed with the
the idea that pornographic material was available at the library "has
alarmed me and disturbed me."
City Councilman Tom Simplot and other officials said they would
support the library
board in any efforts it made to find the most up-to-date technology.
Simplot added that he hoped a filter would soon be available that
only pornographic material."
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