Filtering as Creating Equal Access
Via Thoughts from a Library Administrator I read Cory Doctorow’s recent column on Internet filtering being ineffective and though 697 words can hardly enumerate a well thought out argument, I must take issue with what I view as a knee jerk reaction to the 1st Amendment.
The first thing I’d like to say is that I, in principle, disagree with filtering. Of course, I disagree in principle censoring any type of speech, but we do it every day. Just as I would not let a customer quietly curse to themselves because it bothers the customer sitting next to them, I would not let them display graphic nudity on the screen so a person walking by can get a glance at it. Making it an issue of access to information is like making the removal of someone carrying a gun into the library and issue of gun control. The person holding the gun is not hurting anyone, but they create an atmosphere that is not inviting to the public.
In a previous post I made a similar argument, that the person standing in front of you is not the only person you have to provide good customer service to. Every time someone returns a book late, demands something contrary to library policy (which is written to ensure equitable access) or generally makes life difficult for library staff, preventing them from assisting other customers, they infringe on other’s access to information.
Censoring is, unfortunatly, a reality of creating a welcoming environment. Internet policies in a place like Rochester are written to protect customers by enforcing social norms. Are those norms right or wrong? I don’t know, but the community has set them regardless.
Enforcing the policy isÂ theÂ real issue here.Â We automate sign-up for public access computers so staff doesn’t have to walk around kicking people off when they’ve exceeded their time. We automate check out so we don’t have to file and maintain complicated records on who has what items. Why don’t we automate enforcingÂ our acceptable usageÂ policies as well?
Is it perfect? Of course not, but no policy, person or software can be perfect.Â The filter can be turned off but a hostile environment can’t.
About this entry
You’re currently reading “Filtering as Creating Equal Access,” an entry on Info Breaker
- 06.07.07 / 10am
- Free Speech