Since the internet has been available in schools and libraries in this country, there has been a debate about what should be accessible to users, especially minors. The amount of information disseminated on the world wide web is vast, with some sources valuable for scholarly and personal research and entertainment, and some sources that contain material that is objectionable to some (ie. pornography, gambling, hate groups sites, violent materials). Some information potentially accessible on the internet such as child pornography and obscenity is strictly illegal and is not protected under the First Amendment. Some information available on the internet that may be valuable to some is at the same time perceived to be worthless or potentially harmful to some. For libraries serving the public, there has been controversy on the issue of providing the internet, free of censorship or filtering, to users. While some librarians and their professional associations align with ideals of free and unfiltered access to all information provided by the internet, some feel that filtering internet content to exclude possibly objectionable materials is a reasonable measure to prevent potential harm to minors.
In 1998, a district court in Virginia made a ruling on the use of filtering software in public libraries that set a precedent for the unconstitutionality of internet filters. Todd Anten’s article, “Please Disable the Entire Filter: Why Non-Removable Filters on Public Library Computers Violate the First Amendment gives an account of the ruling. The Loudoun County Library had instituted restrictions to internet access on all library computers with software that would block sites that “displayed obscene material, child pornog...
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Gottschalk, Lana. “Internet filters in public libraries: do they belong?” Library Student Journal 2006: vol. 1. Accessed 31 March 2008. http://www.librarystudentjournal.org/index.php/lsj/article/view/25/18
“Guidelines and Considerations for Developing a Public Library Internet Use Policy.” American Library Association. 2000. American Library Association, Office for Intellectual Freedom. Accessed 1 April 2008. http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/otherpolicies/guidelinesconsiderations.cfm
Holt, David Brian. “Internet filtering and the adolescent gay/lesbian patron.” Library Student Journal 2006: vol. 1. Accessed 31 March 2008. http://www.librarystudentjournal.org/index.php/lsj/article/view/28/25
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