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Maine librarians first to join suit against Net filtering law

By The Associated Press


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AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Library Association is the first plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging a new law that requires libraries to block obscene online material.

The Children's Internet Protection Act requires all public libraries and schools to install software to block pornography from the Internet on their computers.

The American Civil Liberties Union plans to challenge the law's constitutionality, saying it encroaches on First Amendment rights.

The ink on President Clinton's signature was barely dry when the Maine Library Association, which represents about 1,000 librarians across the state, agreed to become the first named plaintiff in the lawsuit.

"There used to be a saying, as Maine goes, so goes the nation. I think this speaks to that and the forthright way of thinking we have in Maine," said Jay Scherma, the association's president.

The lawsuit is expected to be filed within the next few weeks in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, he said.

The American Library Association and the People for the American Way Foundation announced they would also challenge the law.

State Librarian J. Gary Nicholas says he believes that if the federal law goes into effect, librarians in many smaller branches that depend on federal funds for their Internet connections would rather lose their Web capabilities than comply with the law.

"It's going to have a very negative effect on small- and medium-sized libraries because they simply will not participate," he said.

But one lawmaker says the concerns are irrational. Freshman state Rep. Brian M. Duprey, R-Hampden, has introduced a bill in the Maine House to require school and public libraries to install filtering software in any Internet-connected computer available to any child under 18.

He says the filters have few flaws and would not limit the availability of information to library patrons or students.


Free-speech, privacy advocates band together to fight new Internet filtering law
Groups say federal Children's Internet Protection Act places too much stock in unreliable technology that blocks legitimate sites.  01.26.01

Congress passes Net filtering initiative
Clinton expected to sign measure requiring filters in schools, libraries; ACLU vows to challenge law.  12.20.00

Internet filtering plan misses mark, critics say
High rate of erroneously blocked sites highlights serious free-speech issues with software pushed by Congress, says head of anti-filtering group.  10.24.00

Congress close to vote on Internet filtering for schools, libraries
But groups opposed to proposal say it is a bad way to stop minors from viewing online pornography.  10.18.00

Senate passes competing Internet filtering proposals
Bipartisan panel now must develop compromise measure as lawmakers grapple with how to best monitor Web in schools.  06.28.00