Tag Archives: censor

Internet Content Filtering is Allowed in a Library

Today, the Washington state Supreme Court ruled that it is perfectly acceptable for a library to filter content on their Internet connections as they see fit. Six of nine justices agreed that libraries have discretion as to what Internet content to allow, just as they have control over what books they will offer. This ruling comes after a lawsuit that was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington in 2006 against the North Central Regional Library District in Eastern Washington.

There were three plaintiffs in this landmark case: a woman who was trying to research tobacco use by young people, a photographer who wasn’t allowed to check out videos on YouTube or research certain health issues, and a man who wasn’t able to access his own public blog or information relating to gun use by licensed hunters. Any library who receives federal money to provide Internet access is required to have the ability to keep underage patrons from accessing pornography and other sites that could be detrimental. The NCRL receives such government grants, and has filters beyond those required of them. This includes the blocking of content about computer hacking, gambling and personal ads on Craigslist, among other subjects.

“A public library can decide that it will not include pornography and other adult materials in its collection in accord with its mission and policies and, as explained, no unconstitutionality necessarily results,” wrote the majority, led by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen. “It can make the same choices about Internet access.” The ruling also stated that libraries could provide access to individual websites if requested by an adult without having to completely remove their Internet filters.

The dissenting votes, led by Justice Tom Chambers, argues that this ruling restricts constitutionally protected speech. He stated that a library choosing to censor the Internet is not the same as declining to purchase a particular book that the institution feels to be inappropriate. “It is more like refusing to circulate a book that is in the collection based on its content.” He feels that the entire filter should be removed if an adult requests it because the government “has no interest in protecting adults from constitutionally protected materials on the Internet. Concerns that a child might see something unfortunate on the screen must be dealt with in a less draconian manner,” he wrote.

What are your thoughts on this? Should a library be allowed to decide which types of websites and contents they will allow on their machine? This case will now be taken to the federal court level, and it will be interesting to see what happens. I’ve always been a proponent of having open access to anything we choose online. However, I can certainly understand why that isn’t viable in some settings and circumstances.

China Responds To Google's Threats

China has finally broken its silence regarding Google’s threats to leave the country. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu has indirectly responded to the search giant’s warning that they will stop censoring results in China, and may close down its Google.cn site altogether. Google is blaming recent security attacks as the main culprit for their decision.

Google China

Speaking in Beijing at a ministry meeting, Jiang claimed China believes in an “Open Internet” and that the country welcomes international Internet enterprises to conduct business in China according to the law.

While not mentioning Google by name, its clear this has been a huge story all over the world. There has been no indication so far as to whether the Chinese government has been in talks with Google as of yet, but the search engine is keen to speak with Beijing’s authorities in coming weeks. The company hopes to look at operating an unfiltered search engine within the law in the country, though no changes to filtering have yet been made.

China does encourage the use of online services in both education and business. However, current law means a national firewall will filter all web content. It remains to be seen if Google alone can change how business is done in China, but if one company is big enough to do it, my money is on them.

Violent Video Games Targeted

Violent video games are once again being targeted. Over the past few years, there have been many tugs-of-war amongst politicians and consumers alike on this very subject. I’m not sure that there will ever be a middle ground, keeping everyone concerned happy. Some of my friends had a lot to say on this subject.

I went off about this on my show a few weeks ago. The law isn’t really targeting games, it’s actually trying to do something about a more prominent and strict ESRB rating. the problem isn’t in the ESRB ratings. The problem is two major things. first, a parent just won’t pay attention. I mean, if your six year old is playing GTA and the box says that it might not be good for people under 17, you may want to figure out why! Second, store clerks sell games to anyone. They just don’t pay attention to the apparent age of the person and the rating on the game. Maybe putting some more severe penalties on people selling games to minors could help a bit more than this. – Candace Holly

Sounds like Candace has the right idea. What good is a rating system if it’s not enforced? – Zach Underwood

There are no penalties if movie theaters let people under 17 into R rated movies or if rental places rent R-rated DVDs to 13 year olds. Why should video games be any different? Gaming companies are helping parents be more informed about the games their kids are playing through the ESRB rating. – Bjorn Stromberg

I think parents are just going to have to step into the room and look at what their kids are doing with the 30+ hours it takes to finish a video game. Laws can’t replace good parenting. If you restrict kids from buying games at retail, they’ll just go to BitTorrent anyways: kids are clever. – Nicholas Molnar

@Nicholas – Yeap! The stores that sell the games are only part of it. The biggest thing is..parents are just going to have to be a parent. – Candace Holly

if you squint, that looks like a tengu! – Mona N

how about this we just stop rating everything… we need to just STOP censoring the planet if parents and teens don’t care then why bother. Besides if X wants to play Y game they will find a way to do it I think the people playing the games need to know not the parents if you want to watch blood spray everywhere that’s your deal but if not you should know how to avoid the games – Cecil Sandus

I’m sorry but Patterson is a moron .. I hate it for the people of the great state of NY you guys deserve much better then him .. eveything he’s asking for is already in place and well all know it he’s just bringing up this tripe so he can continue to be NY governor. .. that’s all it is – JohnBfromMemphis via twhirl

Actually the government did a test and found that games ratings were the most well enforced of all media. Aside from that, all modern consoles can be set to completely block games of certain ratings from playing. The industry does need to communicate that better, and help parents figure out how to set it up. But really, the attacks on gaming are because politicians are playing on parents’ fear of the unknown. It’s an age-old tactic that happens to every form of media in it’s adolescence. – invariant

Are you happy with the current ratings placed on things like music and video games? Should the standards be removed… or get even tougher?