February 20, 2018

Filter Bill Moves Ahead in Florida

By LJ Staff

Three committees of the Florida House of Representatives have approved a bill
that would require public libraries to install filters or equivalent technology
on any computer available to minors to block obscene descriptions, photographs,
or depictions. Libraries with only one computer may choose filters at their
discretion. The bill, HB 95, has been introduced for three straight years.
According to an analysis by legislative staff, 34 of the state’s 98 library
networks are using filtering software. The analysis also aims to distinguish
H.B. 95 from the 1998 case involving the Loudoun County library in Virginia,
whose policy of filtering all computers was declared unconstitutional. The
Loudoun case does not apply, because the library aimed to block “harmful to
minors” material, while the Florida law would block only obscenity, which is not
protected by the First Amendment. The analysis neglects to point out that no
software maker claims to block only obscenity.