[LINK] Libraries object to internet filtering

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Tue Jul 21 13:50:25 AEST 2009

Libraries object to internet filtering
By Ben Grubb
Jul 21, 2009 1:37 PM

Surge in internet use in Australian libraries.

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) remains 
opposed to internet filtering, despite concerns raised over library 
users caught viewing pornography.

Speaking at a Senate Select Committee in Canberra on Monday, Sue Hutley, 
Executive Director of the ALIA and member of the Department of 
Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy's cyber-safety panel, 
said she strongly opposed the Federal Government's ISP-level filtering 

"We object to filtering on the basis that it is not completely 
functioning and certainly at the ISP-level it has not proved to be 
effective," Hutley told the Senate Select Committee.

"We believe that training and education of the Australian public sets a 
greater advantage in terms of funding in relation to internet security," 
she said. "Libraries and librarians believe that the education and other 
methods we use provide... open access for Australians".

ALIA's stance came under fire earlier this month after an elderly man 
was caught watching hardcore pornography at Maroochydore Library on 
Queensland's Sunshine Coast earlier this month. 

The library did not have a filtering system in place.

iTnews spoke with Ross Duncan, manager of learning communities and 
spokesperson for the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, who said that the 
Regional Council's decision to not filter internet access was based on 
ALIA guidance.

"We generally take their guidelines or their suggestions very 
seriously," he said.

Duncan added that complaints by library staff relating to internet 
access accounts for a very small number of complaints.

"If we look at the estimated frequency, we get almost 2 million visits 
per year in our regional library service," he said. "We did a survey of 
staff and it looks like complaints related to internet access equates to 
0.0023 per cent of all visits".

Although the ALIA objects to filtering, it notes that 40 per cent of 
Australian libraries currently use a version of a PC-based filtering 
system funded by the library's local council.

Surging internet use

A recent survey conducted by ALIA found that 147,474 users accessed the 
internet each week within Australian libraries.

Use of the internet within New South Wales libraries alone was up 41 per 
cent on previous years.


Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Canberra Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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