Use ‘the Filter You Were Born with’: The Unconstitutionality of Mandatory Internet Filtering for the Adult Patrons of Public Libraries

84 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2010

See all articles by Richard J. Peltz-Steele

Richard J. Peltz-Steele

University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth

Date Written: 2002

Abstract

The only federal court (at the time of this writing) to consider the question ruled unconstitutional the mandatory filtering of Internet access for the adult patrons of public libraries. That 1998 decision helped the American Library Association and other free speech advocates fend off mandatory filtering for two years at the state and federal level, against the vigorous efforts of filtering proponents. Then, in 2000, the U.S. Congress conditioned federal funding of libraries on filter use, forcing the question into the courts as the latest colossal struggle over Internet regulation. This Article contends that the federal court in 1998 was right, and the Article counters criticism that has been leveled against that decision since. The public library is the quintessential venue for citizens to exercise their First Amendment right to receive information and ideas. As such, the library should be preserved against the imposition of automated content filters, which are too imprecise, and alternatively value-laden or arbitrary, to meet exacting constitutional safeguards.

Keywords: public library, freedom to receive, intellectual freedom, First Amendment, Internet filter, free speech

JEL Classification: K23, K39, K49

Suggested Citation

Peltz-Steele, Richard J., Use ‘the Filter You Were Born with’: The Unconstitutionality of Mandatory Internet Filtering for the Adult Patrons of Public Libraries (2002). Washington Law Review, Vol. 77, No. 397, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1669450

Richard J. Peltz-Steele (Contact Author)

University of Massachusetts School of Law at Dartmouth ( email )

333 Faunce Corner Road
North Dartmouth, MA 02747-1252
United States
15089851102 (Phone)

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
76
Abstract Views
738
rank
335,374
PlumX Metrics