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Reapportionment (Carol Bain)
Care Package to Florida
State Censorship (Marcia Linville)
Viewpoint: Election 2000 (Jean Aoki)
Gambling Report (Dorothy Bobilin)
Education Committee Activity (Mary Anne Raywid)
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State Censorship

You thought state censorship of public information in Hawaii was impossible in this day and age. Think again.

Last legislative session, bills were introduced to compel libraries to put filters on their public Internet service. Though these "Internet Filter" bills did not pass, they will be introduced again.

Many residents take advantage of the public Internet services offered at the libraries, though primarily only those who cannot afford their own computers and dial up connection. And, yes, many children visit the library after school to browse the Internet as well as the books.

One aspect of Internet filters is to put in key-word filters so a browser will not be able to open a site URL that may include the word "sex" for example. If you thought this statemandated filtering of the Internet was a good idea, based on the belief that innocent children should not be exposed to adult material, think it through.

Independent studies show that a student is unable to access "MarsExploration.org, because the keyword happens to include "sex". Yet, those key word based filters will pass through such gems as "Dora-Does-David.com." That site is not something parents want their child to view, but filters will not stop that site from coming up. Bottom line: filters will not filter out all objectionable material and will exclude a lot of unrelated information.

The national professional organization responsible for providing accurate, timely and unbiased information to the public, the American Library Association, is not only unalterably opposed to censorship filters, but has provided reasonable alternatives to meet this need. ALA has fought, in cooperation with the ACLU, these restrictions all the way to the Supreme Court and won. (See www.ala.org or the Librarian's Index at www.lii.org)

Basically, it is a parent's responsibility to decide what their child may or may not view based on their own values and beliefs. This right does not belong to you, me, or the State of Hawaii. Nor is the technology to filter information quite as it is being marketed. Filter providers and application programs will not give you a list of the standards and criteria used for exclusion except in the broadest, general terms.

Please contact your legislature and talk to your neighbors if you are concerned about censorship in our libraries. Without vocal informed public opposition to the Internet Filter Bills, you too might walk into your public library, sit down to a computer to browse online and see a message "Access to this site is denied by the State of Hawaii."

Marcia Linville

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