(09/06/2001)
Schools and libraries across America are being required to place filters on computers to block material that is "deemed to be harmful to minors." The federal initiative will be regulated by the Federal Communications Commission.

A public meeting will be conducted Monday, September 17, regarding the federal Children's Protection Act. The hearing will be part of the Calhoun County Board of Education meeting which will be held at the Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center starting at 7 p.m.

Local school boards and libraries are required to decide what information may be harmful. While the children need to be protected, Andrew Schneider, the Director of West Virginia's American Civil Liberties Union in Charleston, said filters have not been effective and often eliminate harmless material.

He said having county school and library boards in 55 counties issue their criteria becomes a real problem and can easily infringe on constitutional speech. The end result could be many variations, based on cultural values of the board members. "The filters are a substitute for parental and teacher guidance," he said.

Such filters would not eliminate access to thousands of pornographic sites that have ordinary non-suggestive names. Upon implementation of the law, porn sites that most people find extremely offensive, will find other ways to market their material on the net.

The failure of schools and libraries to comply will affect their government money, including possible repayment of funds already received.


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