Internet Filtering at public libraries(An article about Internet Filtering at public libraries and iProtectYou)
By Jonathan Stromberg
The Internet contains a vast quantity of information that is unsuitable for minors, much of it free for peeking to anyone with an Internet connection and a bit of online know-how.
Right alongside such sites and pages is more valuable information than anyone could amass anywhere else, including the nation's best public and university libraries, also free for the asking.
For this reason libraries now offer Internet access as part of their service. This comes with some responsibility though. To reflect this the federal law 'The Children’s Internet Protection Act' (CIPA) was enacted by Congress in December 2000 to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. The decision means libraries receiving federal technology subsidies must use software that screens out obscenity, child pornography and sexually explicit material deemed harmful to minors.
The CIPA imposes certain types of requirements on any library that receives funding support for Internet access or internal connections from the “E-rate” program – a program that makes certain technology more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. In early 2001, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued rules implementing CIPA.
Federally financed libraries will lose funding unless they certify that they have an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures in place.
The law affects more than 14 million people who use public library computers to do research, send and receive e-mail, and, in some cases, log onto adult sites.
Libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement a policy addressing: (a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet; (b) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; (c) unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online; (d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (e) restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.
A large proportion of libraries already use Internet filtering software on at least some of their computers, with varying degrees of success in screening out only objectionable material.
Internet filtering software gives you the ability to control what can be viewed on your computer and how it can be used. You can block unsuitable websites and set up passwords. Powerful services like email filtering, popup blocking and chat room monitoring are just some of the tools available with such software. Protecting minors from the potential harms of the Internet is essential, and Internet filtering software makes this possible.
The software company SoftForYou.com, specializing in child protection software, offers libraries an ideal Internet filtering program called iProtectYou. Its strength and suitability for libraries lies firstly in its advanced capability to distinguish between undesirable sites and those of a suitable nature, and secondly in the power it gives librarians to administrate all computers remotely from one computer.
iProtectYou has a huge built in database of sites that would not be allowed in libraries under the CIPA ruling. This database is reliable and continuously updated to deny access to disallowed sites whilst enabling users to retain access to benign, harmless sites. iProtectYou has had great success in the task of screening out only objectionable material.
The iProtectYou Network Version allows administrators to manage all installed copies of iProtectYou remotely from one administrator's computer. This special feature makes it ideal for libraries. The administrator's computer can be configured as the iProtectYou Server, and then iProtectYou Client is installed on all other computers in your network that need filtering. These computers can then be controlled from the administrator computer.
This network version has other noteworthy features:
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