Phoenix Council Demands Filters on All Library Computers

Article excerpt

The city council of Phoenix, Arizona, voted unanimously September 8 to bar adults from unrestricted Internet access on all public library computers. The action, spearheaded by Mayor Phil Gordon, puts the Phoenix Public Library at odds with the Supreme Court's June 2003 ruling on the Children's Internet Protection Act (AL, Aug. 2003, p. 12-16), which leaves the door open for lawsuits through an improper or restrictive application of the act's provision allowing adults to disable the filtering software.

PPL Director Toni Garvey told American Libraries she was not surprised by the decision, which went into effect immediately and prevents adult patrons from choosing to disable the 8e6 Technologies software the library uses to block pornographic websites, as CIPA allows.

Not everyone sided with the mayor and city council on the issue, which has been the subject of several editorials and letters to the editor of the Phoenix Arizona Republic and could lead to a court challenge. "We've heard from people who are concerned about this," American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona Executive Director Eleanor Eisenberg told the newspaper. "We have several possible plaintiffs."

"I don't believe that in our library, which is designed to be family-friendly, we should be obliged to provide access to these materials," Mayor Gordon said in the September 9 Republic. The council's action was prompted by the August 11 arrest of Charlton Glenn Ward, 33, a paroled sex offender who was in possession of child pornography that he admitted downloading at the library.

Previously, PPL's policy was to require a filter on all computers in the children's and teen areas, on express computers primarily used for checking e-mail, and in wireless "hot spots" in the main library and branches. …