Committee takes up issue of library porn

October 24, 2007 12:00:00 AM PDT
A San Jose city councilman is taking action to limit the pornography that's available online in our public libraries. That's in direct response to an ABC7 I-Team investigation that first exposed the problem.

San Jose City Councilman Pete Constant held a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the Martin Luther King Jr. Main Library against what he calls "second-hand porn."

"You could be walking with your children or grandchildren through our library right behind us, and on your way walking to the stacks of books, be subjected to people who are viewing pornography right in your presence. And that I believe is wrong," says Constant.

Constant's responding to an I-Team hidden camera investigation from last year that showed library patrons viewing porn -- including full-screen sex videos -- right out in the open, sometimes with children nearby.

San Jose's police blotter last year listed several arrests for child porn at the library. There were at least 10 cases of child molestation or other sex crimes involving kids and several cases of men viewing porn and performing a lewd act, right at the table. Guards caught one man on surveillance camera.

As a result of our report, Constant told the city council's rules committee today that he wants software on the library's computers to filter out porn. "The reason I feel this is important is because of the number of children that visit our libraries."

The American Library Association tells us about 40-percent of libraries across the country use some form of filtering on their computers. In the past, San Jose's main librarian has opposed filters as a First Amendment issue. She's not so sure today.

Dan Noyes: "You don't have any opinion on the issue of filters?"

Jane Light, San Jose Librarian: "No, I don't have an opinion that I'm going to express on filters because we're going to look at this, we're going to analyze what's changed in the last 10 years."

Members of the rules committee are also reserving judgment until staff comes back with more information. However, they heard strong opinions from the public today, including a foster mom who's helping a young boy deal with the images he saw while living with his biological mother.

"You don't forget pictures, whether you're an adult or a young child, and Colton is trying to forget pictures that he's seen and we're working through that," explains Carmen Degnan, a foster mother.

Several years ago, the San Jose City Council took up the issue of filters on library computers and voted to allow open access to the Internet. We''ll be back here in three weeks to find out if these council members vote differently.

Have a tip on this or another investigation? E-mail the ABC7 I-Team or call 1-888-40-I-TEAM.


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