Filtering Internet Access

By Justin Moss

July 22, 2010 Updated Mar 22, 2007 at 11:21 PM EDT

Protecting free speech versus protecting kids from Internet smut.

Thursday a federal judge sides in favor of free speech.

He says Internet sites don't need to block their questionable content from children.

"There's a real problem in that the courts want a very strict scrutiny of any laws that infringe upon a person's first amendment rights," says attorney Tom Schimmerling.

A federal judge says it's up to parents to step in.

He says they're responsible for keeping kids away from pornography and violent Web sites.

At Red Barn Computers in the Town of Chenango, technicians say software monitors can help parents babysit what kids see.

But the programs aren't foolproof.

"It does require some effort of the parents, there's some monitoring involved, there's many ways kids can go in and effectively negate these programs," says Jason Somers of Red Barn.

At the Broome County Library, anyone with a library card can come surf the Web.

But, pornography and violent content are blocked for everyone at the library.

Parents have to be with their kids when they sign up for a library card, and they can even put more restrictions on what sites their kids see.

"Parents are in control of what their children view on the Internet, and it should be that way even in the home," says Broome County Library Director Lisa Wise.

So to use the Internet here at the library, you need a card which has this little chip in it.

That contains your personal profile.

Just insert it, and it tells the computer how much freedom you have to surf the Web.

But the library admits the filters aren't perfect, allowing any determined kid to surf for smut.

People who opposed the federal law, that made it a crime for web sites to allow kids to access harmful stuff, successfully argued the law was unconstitutionally vague.

The case could eventually make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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