Cost of Filtering

Having just discussed ACLU v Gonzalez this week, the 2006 decision that struck down the Child Online Protection Act, this headline caught my eye: $285,000 to install at S.J. libraries, plus yearly outlays. At the instigation of city councilor Pete Constant San Jose is reconsidering its 1997 decision not to install software filters. ACLU v Gonzalez rests in part on the court’s findings that software filters provide an effective and less-restrictive means than COPA of limiting minors’ access to objectionable materials. (I’m putting aside arguments about the definition of what is objectionable.) Why, I wondered, is the cost of installing filters in San Jose libraries so expensive?

Library director Jane Light said it would cost cash-strapped San Jose $285,000 to implement library computer filtering and $265,000 a year to maintain it. Most of that cost – $210,000 – would come from adding staff seven days a week to handle requests to unblock legitimate Internet sites, as Constant has suggested.

It’s not the filtering software that is expensive, it’s protecting access to constitutionally-protected speech that adults have the right to obtain or that filters should not block in the first place.

One thought on “Cost of Filtering”

  1. You suggest an interesting argument. Would it not be possible to have two different access accounts to the Internet? I know back home, there is a login for children under 16 and a login for everyone else. If you could regulate what type of access people have to the Internet, maybe less people would have to work seven days a week.

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