Social Issues / Libraries Should Use Software Filters For Internet Access

Libraries Should Use Software Filters For Internet Access

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Autor:  anton  07 May 2011
Tags:  Libraries,  Software,  Filters,  Internet,  Access
Words: 871   |   Pages: 4
Views: 467

Libraries Should Use Software Filters for Internet Access

Public libraries provide us with a large amount of information. Residents can borrow books from libraries. Libraries also provide Internet access for everyone, including children. Since parents cannot control what then children are seeing on the Internet in libraries, children can access pornographic or violent sites easily. So, public libraries should restrict Internet access by utilizing filtering software to prevent children from seeing those inappropriate sites.

The American Libraries Association (ALA) insists that it is improper for public libraries to use filtering software since libraries have to provide broad materials for patrons. Their claim that filtering software may limit one’s access to legitimate information may be valid. The ALA has stated:

Current blocking/filtering software prevents not only access to what some consider “objectionable” material, but also blocks information protected by the Fist Amendment. The result is that legal and useful material will inevitably be blocked. Examples of sites that have been blocked by popular commercial blocking/filtering products include those on breast cancer, AIDS, women’s rights, and animal rights (“Statement on Internet Filtering” 2).

Those sites can be restricted by filtering software. But, filtering software does not restrict all the materials on breast cancer, AIDS, women’s rights, and animal rights. The ALA states that blocking/filtering software is a mechanism used to restrict access to scanning content based on a keyword, phrase, or text (American Libraries Association 2). Some of there sites are blocked simply because they may contain words that filtering software is programmed to block. Those cites which is restricted might contain a lot of words recognized as “inappropriate” such as the word “sex”. So, filtering software may occasionally not being able to access those sites to be inappropriate site due to this content. However, it is not a problem if it does not disturb people using the computer. David Burt states that the average number of complaints each month. Seven out of twenty four of the libraries reported never receiving a single complaint (2). Therefore, according to these statistics, the restrictions of filtering software do not bother the majority of people who use the internet in libraries.

The ALA also states that public libraries should not restrict Internet access in libraries because filtering software is imposing someone else’s moral code on everyone who uses the programs. Software companies and producers who are outside of communities which administer libraries decide the criteria. Those software companies and producers who are outside of the communities decide whether information contained in Web pages is appropriate or not for children. Their viewpoints of appropriate information influence all children in the communities. Their viewpoints can limit children’s thoughts. So, information should be selected by librarians who are involved with the communities. While third parties make the filtering software, producers check the contents of sites and eliminate what they consider to be inappropriate. According to David Burt’s book, buying books on an approval plan or buying full-text magazines on a CD-ROM also involves letting a vender do a certain amount of selection for librarians (3). When librarians purchase new books for public libraries, they rely on venders to select appropriately. Vendors who select the new books are also third parties. Libraries usually depend on pre-selection of new books from vendors. It is very common among public libraries. There are no differences between selecting proper books and proper Internet sites because both books and Internet sites provide information to patrons.

Finally, the ALA says that filtering software is made for the parental control in homes. It is not suitable, they assert, for public libraries to use the software. Libraries should provide broad, uncensored for their patrons. So information in libraries may be limited by filtering control. The ALA also claims that public institutions are supported primarily by local public tax monies, so libraries are obligated to meet the information needs of the entire community or school population, while upholding the basic principles of the First Amendment (“American Library” 1). People tend to think that a lot of adult sited exist on the web pages because accessing rates of those sites are very high. So people also think that restriction limits a large amount of information and sites on the Internet. In fact, the adult sites account for a small percentage of all. Estimates of the prevalence of adult sites range from one to three percent of all the Internet web sites (Burt 2). The numbers of those sites look big, but it is just because there are many visitors to those pages. Since the adult sites account for a small percentage of all sites, the web sites that are restricted by filtering software must be a small portion as well.

A library’s mission is to provide proper observation to patrons in communities, since it is free for everyone to get information from public libraries. Parents have a responsibility to protect their children from those pornographic and violent web pages. However, they cannot take care of children who are using computers in public places such as libraries. Therefore, information provided by libraries must be useful and informative, and public libraries should use filtering software to protect children from being exposed to inappropriate sites instead of parents when they are away from their parents.



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