by Fran Eaton
The Illinois Library Association is panicking that HB 1727, which calls for hardcore porn to be filtered from public library computers, may become state law. They are so hysterical that they are calling for May 14, 2007 as a Day of Unity for Illinois libraries and telling sympathetic public libraries to shutdown internet access for a day.
The ILA's temper tantrum as made known by the press release (below the fold) features pathetic, illogical and blatantly false rantings.
The argument that filters remove local control is absurd. Libraries accepting federal funds are already required by federal law to filter out hardcore porn from patron use. Obscenity is never constitutionally protected.
Porn internet filters do work, despite the ILA's claims otherwise. All that is filtered is sexually-explicit images. Even that may be removed for credible research. The only difference will taxpayer-funded peep shows will end.
That internet access filters "hurt the poor" is the most hysterical of all the ILA's talking points. How does providing access to every other topic under the sun other than taxpayer-funded hard core porn hurt the poor? Enabling porn addicts hurts the poor. Forcing property taxpayers to fund porn hurts the poor.
In last week's Star column, I wrote that libraries aren't the safe places they used to be. Unless HB 1727 is passed and becomes law, I wouldn't leave my kids there unsupervised and I intend to protest the property tax dollars demanded of me to be spent there. I intend to ask my own state senator to sign on as a co-sponsor.
I suggest you do the same. We should be unified in our defiance of Monday's Illinois Libraries' Day of Unity.
Monday, 14 May 2007 Is a Day of Unity for the Illinois Library Community to Demonstrate Our Opposition to House Bill 1727
Public Policy Committee's Action Plan Regarding Proposed Mandatory Internet Filter Legislation
In response to the Illinois House of Representatives passing House Bill 1727, the Illinois Library Association's Public Policy Committee met yesterday to determine the library community's response. ILA requests that libraries communicate and/or demonstrate the negative effects of this legislation. Because the association is a strong promoter of local control, we are recommending that local libraries determine the most appropriate action for their community and act accordingly. The committee did, however, declare:
Monday, 14 May 2007 is a day of unity for the Illinois library community to demonstrate our opposition to House Bill 1727, the mandatory public and school library Internet filter legislation. On Monday, 14 May, the committee recommends the following possible actions:
- Communicate with your Senator. Write, fax, and call. Please do all three. If you do not know your Senator or don't know the Senator's phone or fax numbers please go to this site type in your zip code and you will find your Senator's contact and biographical information.;
- Turn off the Internet. If you proceed with this option, inform the public by posting signs in the library explaining why the Internet is turned off for the day. Possible language for the sign follows: If HB 1727 becomes law, Your library will be forced to filter all public computers.
- Your library will be forced to provide a companion over the age of 21 for any minor requiring unfiltered computer use for homework research
- Your library will be required to attest to compliance in writing (and since we know how easily filters can be comprised, we cannot in good conscience attest to this) or lose the state per capita funds and any state grant funds.
Given the requirements of HB 1727, your library may need to remove all public computers due to:
- the legal liability incurred by attesting to compliance when we know that filters do not work in all instances;
- the costs of filtering software, and installation and maintenance costs for that software; and
- the cost of the additional staff required for providing supervision of any minor using an unfiltered computer for homework or other research and for the removal of filtering software whenever an adult has a legitimate, lawful need for using an unfiltered site.
- This is an unfunded mandate.
- Download and install a demonstration filter. Be prepared to show how this filter blocks legitimate research use; and
- Maximize filtering software usage. If your library uses filters and if this legislation is passed, libraries will need to maximize the filter settings in order to fulfill the legislation's intent. If on Monday, 14 May, your library maximizes your filters, this will demonstrate to the public both the problems with excessive filtering and the need for local control on establishing reasonable settings for your community.
Each library is encouraged to participate in some way to demonstrate opposition to HB 1727. To share what your library is doing for Day of Unity in Illinois Libraries go the http://illinoislibraryday.info or http://www.illinoislibraryday.info/cgi-bin/unity/unity.cgi. Use the form to describe how you are participating in the Day of Unity. Be sure to include your name, library, and phone number.
As stated in the previous ILA Update #9, House Bill 1727 was amended several times prior to the final Illinois House of Representatives vote. However, the basic mandated requirement to install filters on all public access computers was not changed. One amendment added a provision requiring loss of all state funding for noncompliance (for example, per capita grants from the state library), but also removed enforcement by civil lawsuits, fines, and perjury prosecutions. Another amendment allowed unblocking of a computer for a minor, but only if the library makes sure a minor is continuously supervised by someone over twenty-one years old.
- ILA Supports Local Control. Local officials -- library trustees, librarians, and other professional library staff -- are the most qualified to decide how Internet access should be provided to their patrons. House Bill 1727 overrules all local decisions and imposes a "one size fits all" approach.
- Filters Don't Work and Provide a False Sense of Security! Study after study has demonstrated that filters consistently block important information on science, health, political, and social issues and regularly allow objectionable material to get through.
- Filters are Expensive. Paying for filters diverts scarce resources from limited technology budgets. Money that could go to buying more computers, and paying for more reliable and faster Internet access. Typical network installation is $10,000, plus about $3,000 per year. This is enough to buy twenty computers and pay for Internet access.
- Filters are Inflexible! Filters don't know if the person using the computer is 5, 21, or 65. This "one size fits all" approach treats adults, even senior citizens, like elementary school children. The user doesn't even know what they are being prevented from accessing. We can't expect patrons to ask to unblock computers when they don't know what that particular filter has blocked.
- Filters are Biased! Private companies and groups with commercial, political, or religious agendas design filters to block what THEY find objectionable, including political candidates, social causes, basic health information, and even information on their own product's faults.
- Filters Hurt the Poor! Less wealthy communities are the most in need of technology because more of their patrons lack these resources at home. This legislation forces less affluent areas to choose between filling this need or spending money just to block access.
Tailor Your Talking Points to Your Library. For example, in FY 2004-05, there were 54,500,000 visits to Illinois public libraries, how many of those visits resulted in cases or arrests for unconstitutional Internet usage?
- This Bill is Ill-conceived with Five Amendments. It is a moving target, and it does not reflect thoughtful or constructive action to address the problems it seeks to solve.
- This is an Unfunded Mandate!
- Illinois Senate
The bill has now been sent to the Illinois Senate and Senator Randy Hultgren (R-48, Winfield) is the Senate sponsor. All bills are first assigned to the Senate Rules Committee. A bill discharged from the Rules Committee is sent to a substantive committee for a public hearing. If House Bill 1727 is discharged from the Senate Rules Committee, we anticipate that it will be assigned to the Senate Judiciary Civil Law Committee. The members of that committee are:
Co-Chairperson: John J. Cullerton (D-6, Chicago)
Vice-Chairperson: Don Harmon (D-39, Oak Park)
Member: William R. Haine (D-56, Alton)
Member: Michael Noland (D-22, Elgin)
Member: Ira I. Silverstein (D-8, Chicago)
Member: A. J. Wilhelmi (D-43, Crest Hill)
Co-Chairperson: Kirk W. Dillard (R-24, Westmont)
Member: Dan Cronin (R-21, Lombard)
Member: Randall M. Hultgren (R-48, Winfield)
Member: Matt Murphy (R-27, Palatine)
Based on the current Senate schedule, if House Bill 1727 is assigned to the Judiciary Civil Law Committee, it would most likely be heard in committee the week of May 14. If approved by the committee, the full Senate would then consider it in the last two weeks of May.
ILA will continue to inform the Illinois library community of any developments regarding this legislation.