Internet Porn Gets 'Checked Out'

Michelle Bru CBS

When Michelle Bru took her three sons to a suburban San Diego Library Children's Reading Room, she was so shocked, she shattered the silence.

"I shouted pornography," Bru told CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes .

Bru said she saw youngsters looking at obscene material on the Internet and the librarian could not have cared less.

"When I go to the library, I don't want to see pornographic material. It is as simple as that," Bru said.

It's actually anything but simple because most librarians see filters, even for pornography, as censorship. The result can be seen on an undercover video shot inside San Diego libraries. In the video, people are looking at pornographic material right next to the librarians and there's a man looking at it in front of small children.

"Everybody I talked to was shocked that there is no filtering," said Charissa Proctor of freedomatrisk.org.

Charissa Proctor was so outraged that she started a grass roots campaign to force San Diego Public Libraries to filter its computers.

"It's social sanity and common sense and nearly every person I have spoken to in my community agrees," she told Hughes.

Two years ago, Congress passed the children's Internet Protection Act, which would have forced libraries to use filters. But the American Library Association, ALA, has fought that law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will make its decision any day now.

The ALA said filters block legitimate web sites.

"Mars explorer, what a better example," said Maurice J. Freedman, president of ALA pointing out the 'S' of Mars and the 'EX' of Explorer on a computer screen spell sex -- and might result in the page being censored. "Sex is between two words that constitute a phrase in children's homework assignments."

But in spite of that position, it was the librarians who sued the city of Minneapolis after the downtown library was literally taken over by men downloading pornography.

"I think every librarian in America should be open to looking at filters, investigating them and considering their use," said Wendy Adamson, a librarian at Minneapolis Public Library. "Because we're advocates for our public."

Michelle Bru had to start a petition in her neighborhood that later reached the mayor's office.

"The mayor's office called over and told the head librarian to turn off the computers in the children's library until you get filtering or we will turn off your electricity," Bru said.

Faced with that, the library voluntarily turned off its computers until filters could be installed.

Yet the censorship does not just stop here. Any day now, Justices will issue a major decision on Internet access for children and adults at public libraries.
  • Melissa Cheung

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