Thursday, June 26, 2003

Censorship in our Public Libraries

The Supreme Court has mandated pornography filters in public libraries which receive federal funding. The problem is that these filters are universally acknowledged to be hit or miss, allowing clearly offensive material in, while blocking many legitimate sites (especially those providing medical information). The Supreme Court's decision states that "overblocking" isn't a problem because patrons may easily request to have the filters turned off. I don't know enough about how these systems work to comment on this - does anyone know if it is as simple as the ruling suggests? Significantly, the law does not require libraries to disable filtering when that is requested, and of course, many people might be embarrassed to ask a librarian to do so.

Lots of good links on this issue at The Shifted Librarian (a link I got from Neil Gaiman's blog).

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