Local News

Tuesday, Oct 23 2012 08:35 PM

Porn concern prompts new library web filters

BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Kern County's libraries will begin blocking public Internet access to online sites that are considered to be obscene, harmful to children or to contain child pornography, under a 2000 law that provides funding for Web access for libraries that filter out such content.

All five Kern County supervisors voted to support the controls Tuesday morning.

Kern County Library Director Sherry Gomez said adults older than 18 will still be able to access the sites by contacting library staff and requesting that the block be lifted.

By making the change, she said, the library will realize an estimated $16,000 in savings that would be used to offset increasing costs of being a part of the San Joaquin Valley Library System.

The Children's Internet Protection Act, enacted by Congress in December 2000, required libraries to implement Internet controls and policies before they could become eligible to participate in a program that reduces the cost for communication services and products.

Kern County did not participate in the program, Gomez said, and all library users -- both adults and minors -- had unrestricted access to the Internet using Library Department computers.

Supervisor Ray Watson asked Gomez why the restrictions hadn't been brought forward earlier.

"I can't speak for my predecessor," she said. "I'm before you now making this recommendation."

Supervisor Mike Maggard took the explanation further.

He said he asked former Library Director Diane Duquette why the county wasn't choosing to comply with the federal law.

"She was very resistant to the idea," Maggard said.

He thanked Gomez for bringing a proposal to restrict access to the board without any prompting.

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