ARGUS-PRESS — Group opposed to adult content rallies at Comstock Center

“Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, spoke to the audience for the majority of the meeting, explaining the legal side of the issue. He said he believes it ‘boggles the mind’ that some expect to use libraries funded by tax dollars to view adult content. ‘What those who oppose filtering assert is that people have a First Amendment, Constitutionally-guaranteed right to look at pornography — at (taxpayers’) expense — in a public building full of children,’ he said. He added in the United States Supreme Court case of United States v. American Library Association, Inc., the court found filtering Internet content at a public library is not a violation of the First Amendment. ‘We can respect the other side having the opinion that the Supreme Court is wrong, but the Supreme Court has ruled,’ Glenn said. ‘It’s over. It’s been decided by the highest court in the land.’”


Owosso, Michigan
September 22, 2009

Group opposed to adult content rallies at Comstock Center
by Michael Peterson, Argus-Press Staff Writer

Owosso filters

OWOSSO, Mich. — More than 50 area residents gathered Monday night at the Comstock Inn to discuss ways to remove explicit adult material from the Owosso branch of the Shiawassee District Library.

The meeting, organized by Citizens for Filtering Shiawassee District Library Public Access Computers, comes two days before the library board is set to meet to discuss a policy on regulating such content.

The group also took out three full-page ads in The Argus-Press and The Independent over the weekend expressing its view that adult materials shouldn’t be available on public computers at the library.

The library board is set to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Owosso Middle School.

Library board member Beverly Adcock, who represents Bennington Township, said the board will discuss whether or not to allow two computers in the library to be unfiltered. The Shiawassee District Library began using program Untangle to filter the Internet on all its computers after the Board approved the move in June.

However, those involved in the movement say they want all the computers at the library to remain filtered. The group also claims the Untangle program is not effective and users can still access many inappropriate Web sites. Group member Ronald DeHaas operates locally-based company Covenant Eyes that sells Internet filtering software. He previously offered his program to the library at no charge.

The group also wants the Board to adopt a policy that requires children 13 or younger to be accompanied by a parent or guardian when accessing the Internet, and also requiring children between the ages of 10 and 18 to have permission forms signed by a parent or guardian before they can access the Internet, according to the Web site

Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, spoke to the audience for the majority of the meeting, explaining the legal side of the issue.

He said he believes it “boggles the mind” that some expect to use libraries funded by tax dollars to view adult content.

“What those who oppose filtering assert is that people have a First Amendment, Constitutionally-guaranteed right to look at pornography – at your expense – in a public building full of children,” he said.

He added in the United States Supreme Court case of United States v. American Library Association, Inc., the court found filtering Internet content at a public library is not a violation of the First Amendment.

“We can respect the other side having the opinion that the Supreme Court is wrong, but the Supreme Court has ruled,” Glenn said. “It’s over. It’s been decided by the highest court in the land.”

The controversy began when Owosso resident Catherine Loxen informed board members her 10-year-old granddaughter accidentally caught a glimpse of a man viewing adult material on a computer at the Owosso branch of the Shiawassee District Library.

“When we got to the parking lot she said, ‘Grandma, when we were leaving I looked directly into that man’s screen and I saw all these pictures of naked women.’ And I was just horrified,” Loxen said at the meeting. “My granddaughter, who is 11 now, no longer wants to ever go to the library.”

Glenn said many of the claims of Internet filters making it difficult to access non-pornography sites, such as breast cancer research, are outdated.

The statement was illustrated by Bill Lawson, a customer service manager for Covenant Eyes. Lawson showed the audience a variety of Web searches and sites that could be accessed while using Covenant Eyes software.

Some of the subjects he searched for and was able to access included sites for testicular cancer, sexually transmitted diseases, human sexuality and breast cancer.

“The technology has advanced to where these claims are really a false argument,” Lawson said. “As you can see, it is a little hard to find something that is blocked, unless you are actually looking for pornography.”

DAILY TRIBUNE — (Michigan) library forced to use filters

American Family Association of Michigan President Gary Glenn testified before the Royal Oak City Commission in March, urging commissioners to adopt an ordinance requiring the the installation of pornography-blocking software on all computers in the city’s public library. View Glenn’s testimony here:

AFA-Michigan urges you to contact your local library and/or city officials to urge them to follow Royal Oak’s example…see below.

Royal Oak, Michigan
May 20, 2008

Library forced to use filters
Commission passes law limiting
Internet access to pornography

By Catherine Kavanaugh
Daily Tribune Staff Writer

ROYAL OAK– The public library will get filtering devices on all but one of the computers used by adults following passage Monday of an ordinance aimed at restricting Internet access.

In a 4-3 vote, the City Commission mandated the installation of software technology designed to block adult computer users from viewing Web sites with obscene material.

The Royal Oak Public Library has always filtered computers in its children’s department. The February arrest of a man who allegedly looked at child pornography in the adult computer lab resurrected the debate of filtering those terminals, too.

City Commissioners Michael Andrzejak, Terry Drinkwine, Stephen Miller and Chuck Semchena backed the ordinance. They said they want to provide maximum protection to library patrons and employees who could walk by a computer screen showing pornography and anyone who wouldn’t want to share the facility with someone looking for that kind of information.

“I believe there’s a danger from people willing to commit these crimes not only at home in private but in a public place,” Semchena said.

Semchena also said he was looking for a reason to change his vote but doesn’t think the steps taken by the Library Board of Trustees, such as requiring adults to show identification before using a computer, go far enough.

“I think you did some good work but it doesn’t rise to that level for me,” Semchena told library board members who attended the commission meeting.

Drinkwine complimented the board for its stricter ID policy, which has significantly reduced demand for computer time, according to library officials.

“You have to wonder why that it is,” Drinkwine said.

If the filters end up blocking access to legitimate research, too, the commission can reconsider the ordinance, Drinkwine added.

“It’s not something we can’t revisit if you prove it is totally unworkable,” he told the library board. “The only way we will know is to put it into practice and see how it shakes out.”

Mayor James Ellison and City Commissioner Carlo Ginotti and Gary Lelito said they don’t think the ordinance is necessary. No filters block all pornography and the devices can prevent people from going to useful Web sites dealing with health issues, such as sexually transmitted diseases.

“You can’t protect yourself from a chainsaw by taking away 50 percent of its teeth,” Ellison said. “A filter might cut out some of what is out there but it can’t filter all of it.”

The mayor said he prefers filtering patrons with ID checks and constant staff monitoring, which the library does, instead of filtering Internet content.

“I think the library board has the situation under control,” Ellison said just before the vote. “But the ordinance will pass. We will filter our computers and go from there. I wish it wasn’t happening but it’s not the end of the world.”

Ordinances go into effect 10 days after passage. David Palmer, the library board chairman, said the volunteer group will act as quickly as it can to comply.

“We have a directive and we will move ahead with it,” Palmer said.

Frank Houston, another member, said the library board has looked at filters offered by five companies and is leaning toward a device called WebBlocker, which stops access to Web page addresses in dozens of content categories.

One computer must be left unfiltered for Royal Oak to comply with the Michigan Library Privacy Act, which was amended in 1999 to strike a balance between respecting the free speech and privacy of adults while protecting children from obscene material.

Royal Oak could be the first city in Michigan to pass an ordinance forcing the library board to install filters, according to a spokesperson with the Michigan Municipal League. Other libraries leave only one terminal unfiltered as a matter of policy.

In his opposition to the ordinance, Ginotti said, “The worst way to fix a problem is to legislate it.”

However, Andrzejak said he hasn’t heard any public outcry in the cities where public libraries filter computers to the maximum level allowed by state law.

“I’ve been involved in this discussion going back a decade when I was on the library board and advocated for filters,” Andrzejak said. “…I’m not a holy roller. I’m not a liberal. I’m a man in the middle and I think this is right for the community.”

AFA-Michigan Urges Royal Oak to Filter Internet Porn at City Library

AFA-Michigan President Gary Glenn testified before the Royal Oak City Commission, urging commissioners to protect families and children by blocking Internet access to pornographic material on the city library’s computers. The issue arose after a man was arrested at the Royal Oak Public Library in February for using a library computer to access child pornography. The city commission then heard testimony from a library board member and library director before unanimously approving a resolution instructing the library to block Internet porn access. The library board is still dragging its feet, and AFA-Michigan is urging commissioners to adopt an ordinance or city charter amendment requiring Internet pornography filters.

(Fast forward to 24:30 of the video for Glenn’s six-minute testimony, and to 34:08 for an additional hour and fifteen minutes of further testimony and discussion on the issue.)

ACTION ALERT — Urge Royal Oak Public Library to Block Internet Child Pornography!

Dear AFA-Michigan supporter,

Please read the guest commentary and front-page news story below from the Royal Oak Daily Tribune.

Then, please call the Royal Oak City Commission and the Royal Oak Public Library and voice your support for filtering technology that would protect children and adults from exposure to child pornography and other obscene materials on the computers the library provides to access the Internet:

Royal Oak City Commission
Phone: 248-246-3200

Royal Oak Public Library
Phone: 248-246-3700

Thanks as always for your support!
Gary Signature
Gary Glenn, President

Royal Oak, Michigan
February 28, 2008

(Guest editorial)

All libraries in need of filters

The Royal Oak Public Library’s mind-numbingly outrageous refusal to install Internet child pornography-blocking software on library computers illustrates a point of interest of which the general public is likely not aware.

Under legislation sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Az., signed into law by President Clinton in 2000, and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, public libraries which accept federal funding for Internet access are required to use Internet filtering technology to block access to online pornography on all library computers, protecting children from exposure to such material and from being forced to share library restrooms with men who come to the library specifically to access child porn and other obscenity.

Libraries such as Royal Oak’s, which don’t receive federal funding, are not required to use filtering technology, leaving children unprotected and leaving city or library district taxpayers legally liable for potentially millions of dollars in damages and attorneys fees that would accompany sexual harassment lawsuits by library employees who are forced to encounter child porn and other hardcore obscenity in the workplace. Twelve Minneapolis librarians in 2003 were awarded over $1 million in damages and attorneys fees in just such a case.

Gov. Granholm and lawmakers should act to ensure children, parents, and taxpayers the same level of protection in all public libraries that’s required by federal law in those which receive federal funding for Internet access.

Under current state law, libraries are required to block only children’s access to pornography in the library, not adults’, and the law expressly allows libraries to do nothing more than require that typically female librarians witness obscene pornography being accessed online and then confront the porn user to instruct him to stop. That “system” is an engraved invitation for a Minneapolis-type sexual harassment lawsuit for which Royal Oak and other unfiltered library patrons would have to foot the bill.

Gov. Granholm as attorney general voiced support for mandatory Internet filtering in public libraries, but has apparently retreated in the face of opposition by liberal organizations such as the American Library Association, which formally believes that all library users — including children, regardless of age — have a constitutional “right” to access Internet pornography at taxpayers’ expense.

Similarly, no doubt, the Democrat-controlled House has little interest in mandatory filtering legislation opposed by its liberal pro-pornography at taxpayers’ expense allies, even though the federal version was signed into law by President Clinton.

But what’s the Republican state Senate’s excuse for failing to act to put Granholm and the House on the spot for child protection legislation modeled after that successfully sponsored by Sen. McCain, currently the frontrunner for his party’s presidential nomination?

Gary Glenn, President
American Family Association of Michigan

Royal Oak, Michigan
February 29, 2008

(Front page)

Library porn incident prompts call for filters
Oversight board upholds current policy on adult computers

by Catherine Kavanaugh
Daily Tribune Staff Writer

ROYAL OAK — The recent arrest of a man accused of viewing child pornography in the Royal Oak Public Library adult computer lab has at least one elected official calling for the installation of filters to block obscene Web sites.

City Commissioner Terry Drinkwine said he will raise the issue at a Monday meeting. He would like the commission to pass a resolution asking the Library Board to install technology that could prevent similar incidents.

The library uses filters on the computers in the youth section, but not the 16 computers in the adult lab. That’s where police say James Mullaney, 38, of Royal Oak, accessed four pictures of a girl who appeared to be under the age of 12 having sex with an adult male and one picture of a naked girl.

“This is the one guy we know about,” Drinkwine said. “You can talk all you want about freedom, but in my mind in no way, shape or form should those computers be able to produce anything illegal, illicit or detrimental.”

Board reaffirms policy

On Tuesday, board members unanimously voted to maintain their 8-year-old policy to only filter youth computers.

“That’s because we respect the adults and we know filters don’t work well,” Director Metta Lansdale said. “They have some value when kids use the Internet, but they make adults feel mad and disrespected.”

The Library Board has reaffirmed this position yearly since 2004, Lansdale added. They did so again this week despite the Feb. 5 arrest of Mullaney, who faces trial on five counts of possession of child sexually abusive material, a five-year felony, and five counts of using a computer to commit a crime, which is a seven-year felony. He is being held in jail on a $100,000 cash bond.

Lansdale said the Library Board took the incident into account.

“They did their homework, they deliberated and they kept their position because it’s not an issue,” she said. “This is the first incident of child pornography brought to our attention. The library acted appropriately. We were trained and ready.”

A Royal Oak man who used the computer after Mullaney discovered the illegal pictures in minimized windows at the start of his session. He notified the library staff and they called police.

Drinkwine contends the incident merits a closer look by the Library Board. He wants them to take another vote and approve filters for adult computers.

“I can’t make them do it, but I can ask officially and let the public know they can install filters. But they refuse,” Drinkwine said. “This is no different than saying we’re not going to have a reading room filled with Hustler magazines. It makes no sense to me to balk at this request.”

Support for board

The board’s policy makes sense to the American Library Association, which discourages Internet filters for adults and doesn’t endorse any protective software for libraries to install.

“Filters are not perfect. They all over-block or under-block,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

She said libraries and communities need to answer three questions during filter debates: Is there really a problem? Will filters solve it? Should a government agency block content?

“With filters you think you’re doing something good, but you hand off part of your library collection to a private company that often has an agenda,” Caldwell-Stone said. “If the company is affiliated with a religious organization, you are buying their prejudices.”

She also points to a 2002 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation called “See No Evil: How Internet Filters Affect the Search for Online Health Information.” The study found that Internet filters set on the most restrictive level block 24 percent of all health sites and 50 percent of all sexual health sites dealing with issues, such as condoms and safe sex.

“And they let through 9-13 percent of the porn,” Caldwell-Stone said. “Filters give a false dichotomy. You think you’re protecting people, but there are holes. It’s a false sense of protection.”

Debate started in ’90s

City Commissioner Michael Andrzejak remembers when the issue of Internet filters originally was tackled by the Library Board. He was a member in the mid- to late 1990s.

“It was one of the most contentious discussions I was involved with,” Andrzejak said. “People raised concerns that filters would block research of breast cancer or Super Bowl XXX as something X-rated. But that was the first generation of filters. I’m sure they are much better now.”

Caldwell-Stone isn’t.

“Any honest vendor will say they don’t block all the bad stuff,” she said.

When the topic of filters first came up in Royal Oak, the Library Board was divided between conservative and liberal members, according to Andrzejak.

“It was a dogfight to get filters on the children’s computers,” he recalled. “For adults, we agreed there would be constant staff oversight.”

Andrzejak doesn’t see that as a viable solution anymore, and he wants information on the latest filtering technology.

“Now it’s unreasonable to think this number of computers can be monitored by the staff, and I have to question whether it is the best use of their time,” he said.

Drinkwine asks the same question. He wants residents to weigh in with their opinions.

“This is a public building with kids and families,” he said. “The library should reflect the values of the community. That’s why I asked for this to be on the published agenda. I am drawing a line in the sand. If people are for it or against it, let them say so.”

The City Commission meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.