In response to today's post on the WISSUP blog:
My own opinion is that SOME kind of internet filtering is inevitable in West Bend, although we probably wouldn’t agree on the details. Regardless of the details, you’re not helping to get filters implemented. If anything, you’re slowing the process down by injecting mythology into the debate and haranguing the library staff into a position of resistance.
The first thing you need to get clear on is the difference between filters for children and filters for adults. Your anti-sexual focus blinds you to the fact that porn is only one aspect of filters for children, since for them it is at least as important that the filter prevent them from revealing personal information online or from being contacted by possible online predators. Preventing adults from accessing porn is not the same thing as protecting children from online predators.
When it comes to filters for adults, you are not being realistic about what they will accomplish. The CIPA itself requires that adults have the right to unblock the computer they are using on demand, and the library would actually be breaking the law by failing to unblock on demand. Filters, then, will NOT prevent adult patrons from accessing pornography. Even with filters in place, preventing adult access to porn comes down to the library policy. THE WEST BEND LIBRARY ALREADYS HAS THAT POLICY IN PLACE!
The library staff, who have actually studied this matter, raise a quite valid point about patron-owned laptops. Patrons can bring their own laptop to the library and connect to the internet by means of the library’s wireless network. Such computers will NOT be filtered, even if the library is bound by the rules of the CIPA. Here again, IT IS THE LIBRARY POLICY, NOT THE FILTERS, THAT WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE.
Why do you ignore the fact that THE LIBRARY IS ALREADY DOING AS MUCH AS THE CIPA OR FILTERS WILL EVER ACCOMPLISH!
You are correct in claiming that filters are highly effective in a technical sense, but you overstate their technical accuracy. ALL filters have some degree of under-blocking – allowing porn to pass through – and over-blocking – interfering with access to legally accessible sites. Of these, the over-blocking is the larger problem, and that is one of the reasons the CIPA requires libraries to allow patrons to bypass filters.
Finally, your characterization of the ALA fund for legal challenges to the CIPA is inaccurate. That fund is to pay for the legal costs that were (in the past) expended in the challenge to the CIPA that the ALA lost. It is not about future challenges: the Supreme Court has ruled, there’s nowhere else to appeal to. The ALA is not the problem here, YOU ARE!