Statement by Charles Rust-Tierney to Loudoun County Library Board.
Re: Loudoun County Library Internet Filtering Policy.

Date: December 1, 1998.
Source: Charles Rust-Tierney.   Rust-Tierney gave a photocopy of his prepared statement which he read at the hearing to Tech Law Journal.  TLJ created this document by scanning the original and converting it to HTML.

December 1, 1998

The ACLU of Virginia thanks the Loudoun County Library Board for this opportunity to speak to the Board and the public about Internet access In the Loudoun County libraries. Today more than ever, our nation's libraries are vibrant multi-cultural institutions that connect people in the smallest and most remote communities with global information resources. Thus, despite differences regarding appropriate means, we know that everyone in the room ultimately shares the same end goal: to provide an opportunity for all of the citizens of Loudoun County to benefit from the tremendous information resources available on the Internet.

As you know, Judge Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia has ruled that the current Loudoun County Internet Policy violates the First Amendment. Regardless of any future proceedings related to that litigation, the ACLU of Virginia urges the Board to carefully consider a new Internet Use Policy that allows for maximum Internet access while providing options to parents and other users who may be concerned about unwanted content.

The majority of libraries in Virginia and around the country offer access to the Internet without blocking software. As Judge Brinkema points out in her opinion, libraries that offer unfiltered access have had no significant problems. Three library directors in Virginia, including the Director of the Virginia Library Association, provided testimony in our case about their own positive experiences with full Internet access attached Declarations of Thomas Hehman, Bedford Public Library System; Salty Read, Norfolk Public Library, and Richard Murphy, Prince William Public Library Service. In addition, the judge mentioned several alternatives for dealing with unwanted content that are less restrictive than the current mandatory filtering policy, including the use of privacy screens, optional filtering on computers in the children's section, and educating patrons about Internet use. Finally, other libraries have adopted less restrictive policies that allow adult and minor patrons to decide for themselves whether to access the Internet with or without a filter. See attached letter from Kern County, California.

The ACLU urges the Board to apply the following important principles in crafting a now Internet Use Policy:

America's libraries have always been the great equalizer, providing books and other information resources to help people of all ages and backgrounds live, learn, work and govern in a democratic society. The ACLU now urges the Board to adopt an Internet Use Policy that promotes the library's mission to expand universal access to information, and that recognizes the library's duty to uphold the First Amendment.