Group Presses for Library Computer Filters

Group Presses for Library Computer Filters

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The organization Communities for Decency wants the City Council to force the city's library system to install pornography filters on its public computers.

"The Salt Lake City Library Board has had a policy in place for a number of years and is just absolutely dismissive of any filtering device," said Arthur Brady, libraries liaison for Communities for Decency.

The library board has proposed budgets that do not include $22,000 in state grants. Under a new law, city and county libraries that do not install filters will not be eligible for state funds.

Library board Chairman Roger Sandack said the board is still seeking public comment about filters.

"The difficulty we've had is this bill isn't protecting children, it is taking away free access to information," Sandack said.

Filters are often overly restrictive and prevent patrons from accessing legitimate Web sites, and filtering companies won't make public the types of information they are blocking for "philosophical or religious motivations," Sandack said.

"The fact is you can get around filters very easily, and all these kids know how to do it," Sandack said. "It's as simple as two strokes on the computer."

Library officials also figure it would cost $80,000 to $150,000 to install and maintain filters.

"It's doubling or tripling the amount of time spent on supervision," Sandack said. "It's a ludicrous waste of time" especially since librarians already monitor Internet use and evict people who repeatedly access pornography or sex chat rooms.

Sandack said the library likely would filter computers in the children's book section.

City Councilwoman Nancy Saxton said she would support filters if it made sense financially. "For me it's a cost-effective thing," she said.

Councilman Dave Buhler said other libraries have a different stance on filters, and, "I find it curious that our library has resisted filters."

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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