April 21, 2005

News - The RI ACLU IS NOT Planning "As-Applied" Library Censorware Challenge

[Original news! Blogger Reporting! CITIZEN JOURNALISM!]

Jessamyn West of the widely-read librarian.net wrote

One of the very interesting things about CIPA was the way the Supremes analyzed the law as written but did not rule on the law as applied. Requiring libraries who take federal funds to filter computers in the interests of protecting children was, as written, acccording to them, not unconstitutional. However, if that law as it was applied wound up blocking protected speech, especially for adults who have free speech rights, then it might still be unconstitutional. So, if a library has filters it can’t disable for adult patrons who request it, for example, that might be unconstitutional. Many censorware activists have been waiting for this other shoe to drop, to see if an “as applied” challenge to the law might be forthcoming. A recent press release from the Rhode Island ACLU [full pdf report here] seems to imply that this might be in the works. It outlines a survey done of Rhode Island libraries who filter as part of a consortium, so they share software and expenses, to see how they were handling CIPA-compliance and the filtering it mandated.

See also,, e.g. Walt Crawford.

I decided to engage in a little unpaid free-lance labor, I mean "citizen journalism", and pick up the telephone, call the Rhode Island ACLU (the number's on the press release), and ask.

I spoke with the author of the report, Amy Myrick, Program and Development Coordinator at the RI ACLU. She stated, explicitly on-the-record (I'm careful when I play journalist), that the RI ACLU is not planning an "as-applied" challenge. And as far as she knew, the ACLU did not have such a challenge in the works. So this censorware report was not a precursor to that sort of litigation.

Sadly, a beautiful theory slain by an ugly fact ...

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on April 21, 2005 05:25 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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