Remember CIPA? And remember how we were always holding out hope that someone would challenge it in an “as applied” challenge, an adult who wanted to view material that was blocked by the filters? Well there’s been a challenge, in Washington state, and the State Supreme Court ruled that filtering for adults was in fact permissible, lumping it in with collection development. The case concerns the North Central Regional Library System Opinion here and dissenting opinion here. Interestingly, the sites that were contentious in this case were web sites on firearms, not pornography or otherwise racy topics. Can you see WomenShooters.com at your library?
NCRL’s filtering policy does not prevent any speech and in particular it does not ban or attempt to ban online speech before it occurs. Rather, it is a standard for making determinations about what will be included in the collection available to NCRL’s patrons.
Thus, NCRL’s filtering policy, when applied, is not comparable to removal of items from NCRL’s collection, but rather acquisition of materials to add to its collection. NCRL has made the only kind of realistic choice of materials that is possible without unduly and unnecessarily curtailing the information available to a bare trickle — or a few drops — of the vast river of information available on the Internet.
This may be the set up for a very interesting lawsuit. I hope they appeal.