Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Libraries to Wield Porn Ax Software to Block Internet's Sex

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Libraries to Wield Porn Ax Software to Block Internet's Sex

Article excerpt

Wading into a national debate, Jacksonville's library trustees

decided yesterday to make changes that will block anyone,

including adults, from using library computers to view sexually

explicit material on the Internet.

The library board voted 4-1 to use software that will prevent

Internet users from viewing such things as sex acts, "hard-core"

literature and information promoting murder and prostitution.

The library system restrictions are expected to be in place

within three to five days.

"We found a balance, I think, that serves everybody's needs,"

said Lanny Russell, chairman of the appointed board, which sets

policy for the city's libraries.

But Loretta Haycook, the board's lone dissenter, said she

fears the move could lead to attempts to prevent access to other

types of information, such as information about homosexuality.

"What I'm afraid of [is], have we opened a Pandora's box

here?" said Haycook, who has been a board member about five

years.

The vote came less than a month after City Councilman Dick

Kravitz proposed a bill that calls on the library system to

restrict children's access to sexually oriented Internet sites.

Kravitz made the proposal after constituents complained that

children could see sexually explicit material on library

computers.

Yesterday, about two dozen demonstrators, including children,

picketed outside the trustees' meeting and called for blocking

access to adult-oriented sites.

"I don't want my tax dollars to pay for someone else's

desires," said Tracy Hilton, a Mandarin resident who helped lead

the demonstration.

The board's vote puts Jacksonville in the middle of a

nationwide debate about whether libraries should block access to

sexually explicit Internet sites. Opponents of blocking the

sites, including the American Library Association, often point

to concerns about violating First Amendment rights.

Mark W. Flynn, a program specialist in Florida's Division of

Library and Information Services, said counties throughout the

state are debating the issue. For example, he said Orange County

has blocked access to adult-oriented sites, while Palm Beach

County has decided not to take the step.

In Northeast Florida, St. …

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