Libraries to block porn - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Libraries to block porn

June 24, 2003


Albany-  Lori Harvey and her daughter Lisa spend a couple of hours on the Internet about four days a week at the Dougherty County Central Public Library.

"It gives us something to do," Harvey said. "It's better than watching TV and it get's her out of the house."

Lori checks e-mails from friends, while Lisa plays games. With that much time surfing the web, Lisa is bound to stumble onto sites she shouldn't see.

"Last summer you had kids coming up here and, it didn't matter what it was, they'd sit there and watch it," Harvey said.

That's why the Supreme Court upheld a law Monday about filtering Internet access in public libraries. The ruling forces libraries to install pornography blocking filters or lose federal money. Dougherty County Public Libraries put the filters in place three weeks ago.

"The staff got tired of being the Internet police if you will," said Mike Dugan, director of Dougherty County Public Libraries.

It works like this. If you type in a site, like sex.com, then a screen tells you that site is forbidden. The filters aren't perfect and Dugan admits there were good reasons not to use them.

"Sometimes they will prevent access to very good sites," he said. "And in other instances, it will allow access to inappropriate sites."

The filters shouldn't affect an Internet user from finding medical information, for example, on breast cancer. Although they are usually effective, filters can never replace good supervision.

"If I see something pop up she knows automatically to take it off," Harvey said. "She knows not to sit there and gawk at it like some people do."

Because filters will never be as sharp as the eyes of a parent.

posted at 9:15 p.m. by brannon.stewart@walb.com