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San Jose City Councilman Demonstrates Anti-Porn Filter

Demonstration of Internet filter for libraries draws Varied response.

San Jose City Councilman Demonstrates Anti-Porn Filter
SAN JOSE, Calif. - San Jose City Councilman Pete Constant demonstrated the use of an anti-porn filter Friday at City Hall in an effort to quash free-speech concerns.

After Constant entered "panocha" ("fudge" in Spanish) into a search engine, an image of a scantily clad woman's derriere appeared on the four large screens used in the demonstration.

"There are some image results," Constant proclaimed to the 24 attendees. 

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Urged by attendees, Constant clicked to enlarge the image.

Attendees submitted 23 search suggestions to be used in the test of whether the WebSense filter would block racy images while allowing non-pornographic information about subjects such as gay sex or testicular cancer, according to The Mercury News.  

When Constant searched "art nudes," several nude women appeared on the screens, while many others seemingly were blocked.

A search for "whore" filtered out a racy adult site but also blocked the Gothic robe site TheClothingWhore.com. Among the results allowed was the 1991 film Whore.  

Constant re-examined a list of sites that San Jose's library director said have been blocked by the filtering system. The sites were accessible at the demonstration. Constant said this was because the software had been improperly set up for previous tests. 

The Mercury News reported that most attendees seemed to have already made up their minds about Internet filtering in the city's public libraries. Filter supporters, such as former City Councilman and current Values Advocacy Council President Larry Pegram, declared the demonstration a triumph, saying the filters didn't block legitimate information.

"Images that were not pornographic or obscene were not blocked," Pegram said. "There's a lot of misinformation and fear."

Skyler Porras, San Jose director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, seemed unconvinced, implying that the demonstration's results were engineered.

"We don't want to comment on what we don't consider to be a scientific test," she said, noting that research cited by the city's head librarian in a report that gave a dim assessment of filtering technology "took weeks and weeks."

Several other critics in attendance were similarly unimpressed.

"This is censorship, Mr. Constant," San Jose resident David Breithaupt said.

Constant said the demo went "as I expected."

Though critics remained skeptical, Constant pointed out that several council-member aides were present and silently observing.

"Those are the ones that count," he said.

The City Council is set to consider Constant's request to install filtering technology in public libraries in July.

Critics say the software is unreliable and might violate free-speech laws.

 

 






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