Sunday, March 04, 2007

Is your library's filter company quietly changing its agenda?

A letter to the LibraryLaw Blog:

Ms. Minow:

I’m only a recent, and now sure to be regular, reader of the LibraryLaw Blog (what an excellent resource) and am also a big fan of your article “Lawfully Surfing the Net…,” which I cited in many papers during library school.

I’m emailing because I would like to know your thoughts about a recent event. On February 26, 2007, ContentWatch purchased the popular filtering program Net Nanny ( I know of several public libraries that use Net Nanny to comply with CIPA. Since I’ve been looking at Nancy Willard’s research on Internet filtering companies and religious affiliations (, this change of hands is especially concerning.

On the ContentWatch page, there is a link to “Keep Your Children Safe Online,” which links to This page includes one quote from Tommera Press, co-publisher with Fires of Darkness of the book “Riding a Dead Horse: Carousel to Hell,” by Tom Buford. Buford’s web site,, is devoted to overcoming porn addiction and features a link to an interview with Buford on the 700 Club. Another quote featured on is attributed to the Christian Broadcasting Network.

ContentWatch also maintains a list of articles about pornography and child safety under the heading “LearningCenter.” Their list on pornography includes articles such as “Internet Porn Is a Drug and Pornographers Are Drug Dealers” and “It’s Not About the First Amendment,” both by Mark Kastleman (who has published a book called “The Drug of the New Millennium: The Science of How Internet Pornography Radically Alters the Human Brain and Body,” published by Granite Publishers, which is affiliated with the Latter Day Saints). Also archived is the article “DOJ busts Website for Obscenity,” by Jan LaRue, who is chief counsel for Concerned Women for America.

In the spirit of Willard’s research, it seems that public libraries should perhaps rethink their use of Net Nanny, especially if it infringes upon the First Amendment’s establishment of religion clause. It will be interesting to see if Net Nanny users notice a difference in blocking activity or access in the coming weeks. Any thoughts about ContentWatch in public libraries?

Thank you for sharing so many thought-provoking ideas via the blog and your articles.


Readers, any thoughts?

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