Plan to ban porn sites at San Jose libraries

October 19, 2007 12:00:00 AM PDT
Sex crimes and pornography in San Jose's main library were uncovered by the ABC7 I-Team about a year ago. As you can imagine, that report got a lot of reaction, but today it's getting action.

It really surprised us that it's taken so long, but a San Jose councilman is finally demanding changes to the main library's computers after seeing what we caught on hidden camera.

San Jose Councilman Pete Constant wants software on the main library's computers to filter out pornography, after seeing our I-Team investigation from November.

"I was contacted by a constituent in my district who sent me a link to the online video and says, 'Hey, have you seen this?' And when I watched it, quite frankly, I was flabbergasted," says Constant.

The library has no rule against viewing photographs or full-screen sex videos from Internet sites, even with children nearby. Chief librarian Jane Light told us it's a matter of free speech.

"If anyone objects, doesn't like that because they're seeing something they don't want to see, they just let us know and the customer will be required to place a screen on their screen that means people can't see it from the side," says Light.

However, if you look at the privacy screens you can see that they block the view if you're sitting next to the computer, but move back just a bit and the picture's clear again.

Dan Noyes: "I've seen the screens and I see how they work and the stuff is visible from behind, you can see everything with those screens."

Jane Light: "So, you can avert your eyes. It's really, we have a great children's room, I don't know if you've seen our children's room."

Yes, the library does have a room set aside for kids, but they aren't required to go there. They can wander to any floor, even where we spotted a man viewing child porn on a library computer right out in the open.

"I spent 14 years as a San Jose police officer in this city protecting our children and our families and our entire community, and from a police officer's perspective, I can't tell you how important this is in the greater scope of public safety," says Constant.

In fact, San Jose's police blotter last year listed several arrests for child porn at the library -- 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 there at the table. Guards caught one man on surveillance camera.

Councilman Constant says software to filter out porn sites is an important step.

"I'm a father of five children, five small young children that I like to take to the library very frequently. I think we need to make our libraries a safe place for our children," says Constant.

First stop for Constant's proposal -- the San Jose City Council's Rules Committee. We'll be there next week and tell you what happens.

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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