April 24, 2003

Florida and Ottawa library censorware

Gary Price at The ResourceShelf blog called my attention to two articles. One is about mandating library censorware in Florida. (for $250,000 ...)

I tracked down the bill's original text which says

Section 1. Each county or municipal public library that makes available for public use computer on-line service, Internet service, or local bulletin board service shall install and maintain computer software or equivalent technology on any computer that is made available to persons under 18 years of age which prohibits access to materials that contain obscene descriptions, photographs, or depictions. Such computer software or equivalent technology may also prohibit access to materials that incite violence against persons based on their race, gender, or religion. If the library has only one computer available for public use, the installation of such software or technology shall be within the discretion of the library.

Sigh. Note the immediate slipping slope, from "obscene", to "incite violence against persons based on their race, gender, or religion" And "children" is "persons under 18 years of age". I suppose the kicker is if "any computer that is made available" is, in effect, any non-staff computer (i.e., for public use).

And then there's Ottawa library censorware, where

The motion rejected by the library board proposed putting library-wide filters that adults could turn off after entering their library-card number.

The majority of board members argued that such filters give parents a false sense of security, because filters aren't perfect. Filters can cut out legitimate Web sites, and still let in some pornographic ones.

Some people also worry that a card-swipe system would violate privacy. They say the card information would remain stored on a server, along with a record of the sites the user visited.

Note a similar theme, that by default, public information should be restricted to what is deemed fit for children, unless proven otherwise.

Same stories, repeated over and over ... :-(

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on April 24, 2003 10:32 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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