If you are from the DC/Baltimore area . . .
. . .I’ll be on WBAL, the NBC affiliate in Baltimore, tomorrow night at 11.
It’s a segment that I taped last week about internet porn in libraries. A little girl in the Baltimore area was sitting next to a man who acccessed porn in a public library — the question was: what’s a library to do? Answer: it’s a constant battle.
All of us who use the internet on a daily basis are plagued by pornographers — a pox on them!
As for libraries, parents need to know that a federal law that went into effect last year requires libraries that accept federal money to have filters on their computers.
Important point: the American Library Association opposed the legislation. . . So you can’t assume that your library uses filters. And, even if they do, as we all know, the porn guys employ really ingenious hackers.
See links on MSN
TOWSON, Md. – An irate mother claimed her teenage daughter was exposed to Internet pornography at a Baltimore County library. WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team reporter Lisa Robinson said it may look like the person sitting next to you at a public library computer is doing legitimate research, but a closer look may show you a different story. Robinson reported when Willa Taylor’s 17-year-old daughter went to the Northpoint library to do some research, she was shocked at what she caught a glimpse of on the computer next to her.
“She said while she was there, there was a man sitting right next to her and watching porn,” Taylor said. “She saw the man’s … you know … and the other picture was a woman’s legs straight up in the air.”
Her daughter was too embarrassed to speak with us, but Taylor was irate and called the library.
“If I would have walked up there myself and I would have seen this next to my daughter, I would have choked the man like a chicken and then I would have been the one getting in trouble because this man is showing my daughter nudity,” Taylor said.
Four years ago, 11 News exposed this problem as the I-Team’s hidden camera caught people in Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties openly viewing pornography on library computers. Since then, Congress passed the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which requires libraries install filters to receive federal funding.
Robinson took Taylor’s concerns to Baltimore County’s public library director Jim Fish.
“That’s very traumatic,” Fish said. “I feel sorry. As a father of two teens, I have a great deal of empathy.”
Fish said the library has had filters in place for seven years — even before the Children’s Internet Protection Act. He said although they are getting better, they are not 100 percent effective.
Robinson said the programs are designed to filter out material that could be offensive, but they can also end up filtering out legitimate sites about subjects like breast cancer or aids. If you have a valid reason for accessing those sites, the librarian can help you bypass the filter.
“What we are trying to do is balance your intellectual freedom and your right to privacy as an individual while making sure people are not doing illegal things and maintaining a reasonable environment for folks and safe environment for children,” Fish said.
The Family Research Council lobbied to have filters put in libraries and said they are helping, but they’re not enough.
“You have to be vigilant with the filter — can’t just depend on the filter to do all the work,” Charmaine Yoest of the Family Research Council said. “Make sure it’s current as possible, check the level the filter is set on.”
Both Fish and the Council agree that supervision by the library staff is important as well. Fish said the library staff would ask people to leave if they abuse the Internet.
“If they fail to comply with the request, we ask them to leave and we have banned people from using the library for say 30 days when they are repeat offenders,” Fish said.
In some instances, people have been banned for 6 months.
Baltimore County library officials said it’s doing its best but needs patrons to help. If you’re in the library and see something inappropriate, report it so the staff can take action right away.
There are more than 600,000 public library computer users in Baltimore County. Anyone who wants to use the Internet must read and sign an acceptable use policy.
All of the public libraries in the Baltimore area have similar policies.
Stay with TheWBALChannel.com and 11 News for the latest news updates.