Librarians unite with Google, Yahoo on censorship

ALIA, on behalf of librarians in Australia, has produced a statement here on Internet censorship in conjunction with the big Internet players.
It is worth reading it all, it’s quite short.

Here are the recommendations:

According to a large body of peer-reviewed research on the matter the most effective way to protect our children on the internet is achieved by adopting a strategy containing the following three Core Principles:

* Education: Properly funding a national comprehensive cyber-safety education program for children and parents on how to avoid inappropriate material and stay safe online. If any element of online safety is to be mandatory, it should be education.
* Policing: Significantly increasing and funding the level of oversight by the government and federal police focused on the locations, such peer-to-peer, where child sexual abuse materials are disseminated.
* Technical Measures: If the government and the broader political system are determined to implement technical measures as part of online safety efforts, then we believe Australia can learn from the approaches adopted in peer countries, particularly in Europe. The strong consensus internationally is for ISPs, police and government to work together in partnership targeting a clearly defined and narrow band of child sexual abuse material.

Under this filtering regime:

* there would be little to no impact on the internet.s performance or greatly increased costs to users;
* there would be an environment in which adults are able to choose whether to have their service filtered or not.

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Internet and Libraries

Cybersmart poster for libraries

The Internet censorship debate continues across library land. A very good post by the President of ALIA is available at: http://www.alia.org.au/blog/?p=146
Obviously librarians are opposed to censorship of items which are not actually illegal, as is being proposed, but while we believe in a free Internet, it is also especially important for librarians to remember their primary role as guides, teachers, facilitators in all things Internet for the public.

We have responsibilities on both sides of this issue. We oppose unnecessary censorship out of principle, but must on the other hand give the public and expressly our library patrons the tools and knowledge to make the Internet a safe place for them and their families.

Public libraries in general all have Internet use policies that prohibit illegal or nuisance Internet use, in tandem with that they should also give practical guidance, training and direction on how to avoid risk and potential harm. Our role in doing this has been recognised by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

Libraries play an important role in providing internet access and advice to children, their parents, and other library users. To help library staff in this role, ACMA has developed a range of resources about how to manage risks so that library users have safe and positive experiences online

You can see some of the resources that they have developed in conjunction with ALIA at: http://www.cybersmart.gov.au/Libraries/Downloadable%20resources.aspx

For public librarians and for those who work in public access areas the Cybersmart Guide for Library Staff is also useful. Available at: http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/115943/20100203-1020/ACMA_CybersmartLibrariesGuide.pdf

While we are here, ACMA also promotes the Safer Internet Day which is on 9 Feb. The slogan for the day is: Think Before You Post
Now that really is something everyone should keep in mind. What you post on the Internet today will probably outlive you given that there are numerous web archives, and that search engines routinely makes copies of the entire web, and individuals also portions of it, and many companies retain ownership of content which you have uploaded (such as Facebook). Of course this is no reason to panic and never post anything, it is just to be aware of what you are posting.

Think before you post online poster

The Great Australian Internet Blackout

The campaign against censorship steps up this Australia Day week with a campaign appearing across numerous Australian websites coordinated by http://www.internetblackout.com.au/

Librarians have a dog in this fight as they are the guardians of information and the champions of access.

The Australian Library and Information Association therefore has a statement on online content regulation at
http://www.alia.org.au/policies/content.regulation.html which says:

Libraries and information services facilitate and promote public access to the widest variety of information, reflecting the plurality and diversity of society. The selection and availability of library materials and services, including online content and services, is governed by professional considerations and not by political, moral and religious views.

Libraries and information services support the right of all users to unhindered access to information of their choice regardless of format.

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)

also has this to say:

The global interconnectedness of the Internet provides a medium through which this right may be enjoyed by all. Consequently, access should neither be subject to any form of ideological, political or religious censorship, nor to economic barriers.