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Councilman Calls for Porn Blocking Filters on Library Computers

Councilman Calls for Porn Blocking Filters on Library Computers

  Usually when a new City Council member is elected, he or she spends the first few weeks hiring staff, getting to know people at City Hall, and learning where the bathrooms are located.  Usually, newly minted Council members do not jump feet first into potentially emotional social issues.

 

  Not Ron Nirenberg.

 

  The northwest side councilman, who was elected in a runoff just three weeks ago, is proposing that the San Antonio Public Library system install filers and other devices to prevent children from viewing pornographic material on line.

 

  Specifically, Nierenberg wants the local libraries to 'achieve compliance' with the 2000 Children’s Internet Protection Act.'

 

  That measure, which was co sponsored by San Antonio Congressman Lamar Smith, requires that public libraries 'certify that they have an Internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures.'

 

  The Act says the libraries "must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors."

 

   "I believe that the implementation of these measure is necessary to protect young public library patrons and that achieving CIPA compliance is in the best interest of the citizens of San Antonio," Nirenberg said.

 

  The library system has considered for the last decade whether to adopt the CIPA standards, and has decided, even at meetings as recently as last month, not to climb on board.

 

  "Public libraries across the country are considered the last bastions of free speech," spokesman Joseph Marks said.  "This issue is really denying access or whether we should deny access to anybody looking for anything on line."

 

  Marks says instead of using filters, they have library personnel checking out the content of material people are viewing on line.  All computers are placed so they face outward toward aisles so content can be viewed by monitors walking by.

 

  Marks says they have had very few problems.

 

  "We do have staff who are in the area and will address any issues if they find any, but that really doesn't ever happen around here."

 

  Marks says it is an issue of free speech, and allowing people to search out whatever material they want, without interference from government censors.

 

  "While we will always address any issue that is publically considered to be questionable, we don't deny anyone access to the computers," Marks said.

 

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