SJ council votes down library porn filters


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The proposal failed seven to three, but the council did say they will require a screen that comes up making sure users agree they will not participate in any illegal activities on the Internet.

An investigation by the ABC7 News I-Team uncovered the problem a few years ago, but the proposed solution of adding internet filters doesn't sit well with first amendment advocates and those worried about the costs.

"How could you want your children exposed to these men that are doing perverted things in a library?" said a resident.

"Why use anyone's money to filter where nothing happens?" said another.

The debate lasted for hours inside the San Jose City Council chambers. The issue involves putting filters on computers inside the city's public library branches -- more specifically, on computers used by children.

"Studies have shown that 75-percent of children get to pornographic sites inadvertently and that's something I think we should be protecting our youngest children from in our libraries," says Council Member Pete Constant.

Councilman Constant lead the push toward filters which would cost $80,000. He says too often, library computers are used inappropriately to watch pornography and even child porn.

"There have only been 14 complaints to library staff regarding the use of explicit content," said another.

ABC7's 2006 I-Team investigation captured several library patrons performing lewd acts while visiting porn sites.

"There are solutions like privacy screens and recessed seating which would address that issue, but again not deny people access to important health and sexuality information," says Skyler Porras from the ACLU.

ACLU members and many educators oppose filtering idea. They say too much information could be unnecessarily blocked. But at the Rose Garden Public Library, it's not the lack of access that worries this parent. It's having too much that bothers him.

"The library is open to the public for everyone to enjoy and I would not want my daughter to be sitting next to someone who might be going to illegal sites," said Rawley Douglas, a parent.

If filters were not allowed, some voters at the meeting said they will try to get the issue on the 2010 ballot and they will even consider boycotting the libraries all together.

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