James Johnson, Jr., Chair
 
900 North Ashley Drive
Tampa, Florida 33602
James Martin, Jr., Vice-Chair
William Scheuerle, Secretary
 
Phone: (813) 273-3660
Fax: (813) 273-3707

Tampa-Hillsborough Public Library Board

MINUTES FROM THE JANUARY 27, 2000 PUBLIC LIBRARY BOARD MEETING
JOHN GERMANY PUBLIC LIBRARY, 3-6pm

CALL TO ORDER:

Chairman Sandra Cameron called the meeting to order at 3:00pm She announced, with regret, that Linda Arnold had resigned. She then asked Kay O'Rourke to call the roll.

ROLL CALL AND ATTENDANCE OF STAFF & SPECIAL GUESTS:

Library Board Members Present:
Elizabeth Blue, Sandra Cameron
Josephine Gracia, Fred Hearns
Anniece Ross, Kay O'Rourke
Dora Reeder, William Scheuerle
Helen Swisshelm
Library Board Excused:
Catherine Bartolotti

Library Board Absent:

Library Staff Present:
Joe Stines, Director of Libraries
Marcee Challener, Assistant Director
David Wullschleger, Chief of Operations
Janet Lorenzo, Chief of Community and Access
Jean Peters, Chief of Reference and Information
Linda Gillon, Manager of Staff & Administrative Support

Al Carlson, Chief of Automated Systems & Services
Maurice Site, Chief of Planning & Analysis
Patrice Koerper, Public Relations & Partnerships
Jean Fletcher, Administrative Assistant
Susan Oliver, Site Coordinator, NTA
 

Special Guests:

None
Members of the Public:
Neil Cosentino
Mike Pheneger, ACLU
Steve Phillippy, ACLU
Robert Weinguard

APPROVAL OF THE DECEMBER 9, 1999 MINUTES

Dora Reeder motioned that the minutes be approved as written. Elizabeth Blue seconded. The minutes were approved as written with one spelling correction being noted later in the meeting.

PRESENTATIONS FROM THE PUBLIC/SPECIAL GUESTS:

Sandra called for presentations from those not speaking to the Internet issue. Neil Cosentino introduced the Library Board to CHIP (Community Historical Information Program). He said CHIP would allow citizens to come to the library to record information regarding themselves, family members or the community. For example, a family that has lived in Port Tampa City for 150 years, might want to record historical and genealogical data. Materials would be scanned at the library and recorded on a CD so that a permanent record could be created. In this way, people would be able to contribute to the history of the community. Mr. Cosentino said he wanted to introduce the program to the Library Board for their information and support in the future. Bill Scheuerle asked if the library would retain one CD and a copy would be given to the citizen. Mr. Cosentino said there were numerous possible scenarios. For example, one CD could be kept in the library to be updated constantly. The second CD-ROM could be for census data and other information about graduating classes, etc.; the third could become an annual archive for the community. Mr. Cosentino thanked the Library Board for their time and Sandra Cameron thanked him for coming.

COMMITTEE REPORTS:

PLANNING COMMITTEE:

A Planning Committee meeting was scheduled for February 15, 2000, 4:00pm, at the John Germany Public Library. Joe pointed out that the Westchase folks are very anxious to get their library on the project list.

BUDGET COMMITTEE:

None.

POLICIES & BYLAWS COMMITTEE:

Dora Reeder said she would be calling a Policies & ByLaws Committee meeting for the purpose of developing a policy regarding the naming of libraries.

INTERNET USE SUBCOMMITTEE:

Elizabeth Blue, Chairman of the Internet Use Subcommittee, began by saying that the Internet Use Subcommittee met on January 10, 2000. All members, along with four other Library Board members, were present to discuss the issues raised at the December 9, 1999 Board meeting. She said the Internet Use Subcommittee would like to place the following motion on the table for discussion:

that Library Administration be allowed to activate Websense filtering Sex 1 and Sex 2 for all library computers in order to assist staff with the enforcement of the Library Code of Conduct in regard to violations involving the displaying of obscenity and/or illegal material.

Elizabeth said that, after the December 9th meeting with Commissioner Storms, it became clear that the constitutional rights of all users need to be taken into consideration. She said the Subcommittee's decision to place this motion on the table was based on this premise. However, the Subcommittee also felt that several questions needed to be addressed by Websense staff.

Elizabeth went on to say that the Subcommittee had requested a definition of "obscenity" from the County Attorney's Office. She quoted Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist in the Miller v. California case: "Material is obscene if, considered as a whole, applying community standards, its predominant appeal is to prurient interest, that is, a shameful or morbid [p#155] interest in nudity, sex or excretion, and utterly without redeeming social value, and if, in addition, it goes substantially beyond customary limits of candor in describing or representing such matters."

She said the following statement was provided in Constitutional Law 274.1 (3): If a state law that regulates obscene material is limited to works which the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest and which depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law, and which, taken as a whole, lacks serious, artistic, political, or scientific value, the First Amendment values applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment are adequately protected by the ultimate power of appellate courts to conduct an independent review of Constitutional claims when necessary."

"Obscenity," was further elaborated upon in the same document: "A state may define for regulation patently offensive representations or descriptions of ultimate sexual acts, normal or perverted, actual or simulated and patently offensive representations or descriptions of masturbation, excretory functions, and lewd exhibition of the genitals." (U.S.C.A. Const. Amend 1.)

Elizabeth commented that these definitions also would appeal to the community's understanding of obscenity. The Tampa Bay Community, as a whole, is indicating a desire to clean up adult night clubs, lap dancing, etc., for example. As defined by Websense, their Sex 1 filter excludes sites displaying "heterosexual activity involving one or two persons, hardcore adult humor and literature. Sexually explicit language describing acts that would fit into this category are also categorized here". Sex 2 filters sites with "heterosexual acts involving more than two people, homosexual and bi-sexual acts, orgies, swinging, bestiality, sadism, masochism, child pornography, fetishes and related hardcore adult humor and literature. Sexually explicit language describing acts that would fit into this category are categorized here".

Elizabeth said that she felt, from reading these definitions, that they were still too broad. Some items falling into Sex 1 might possibly exclude paperback novels like Harlequin romances and things of this nature. She added that she would like clarification from Websense on this. Sandra Cameron asked for a list of questions to be addressed Websense Management, adding that questions would need to come from the Board, not the public unless relayed through the Library Board.

Elizabeth Blue:

  1. When coming across questionable materials do you also look at the site that it's coming from. It could be coming from an academic or medical site, for example--something that would not be important to the average person but might be valuable for a psychologist or psychiatrist doing research?
  2. Sex 1 and 2 are broad in their definitions. How do they determine the difference between obscenity and adult entertainment?
  3. What are the qualifications of the people who determine what gets filtered and what does not?
  4. How often are sites reviewed; how are they reviewed and what is the response time to sites found by others that are questionable?
  5. If the user goes into a search engine to search by keyword, would blocked sites even show up or are they excluded automatically?

Bill Scheuerle:

  1. How many libraries are utilizing Websense?
  2. Has Websense received any criticism from users, or major complaints?
  3. Have any libraries withdrawn from Websense? If so, why?

Helen Swisshelm:

Helen Swisshelm commented that she attended a meeting recently and the topic of discussion turned to the growth of the Internet. She said she was astounded to learn that, in 1990 there were 5 web sites. In 1999, 65,000 new sites were created every hour. In light of this:

  1. How does Websense monitor 65,000 new web sites every hour?
  2. How many people are doing the monitoring?
  3. How does a particular site get blocked? What is the process?
  4. What qualifications do you need to become a "filterer" and what is the turnover rate?
  5. Can librarians block sites?

Helen commented that Websense does not filter by individual words but by domain name (categories). Joe Stines added that they monitor both electronically and through human technicians.

Anniece Ross:

  1. What kind of training and guidelines are the people who filter given, especially regarding constitutionality? Are the guidelines regarding what is constitutional and what is not written down?

Josie Gracia:

  1. How easy is it to unblock a site?

At this juncture, Sandra Cameron asked for presentations from those in the audience wishing to address the Internet issue.

Mike Pheneger, representing the state and local chapters of the ACLU, was the first to speak. He said Helen Swisshelm's point that 65,000 new web sites are added hourly illustrated the futility of filtering. He said there was no way for human beings to be actively involved to any acute extent in the actual determination of what sites are going to be filtered and what sites are not. He went on to say that another problem is that personal judgements determine what is obscene and what is not. He said the first definition of obscenity read by Elizabeth Blue was from the Georgia Code and was eventually overturned by the Supreme Court because it was considerably broader than the federal definition that is applicable in the United States. He said this shows the difficulty involved in making these decisions.

Mr. Pheneger went on to say that the ACLU was not asking the Library Board to uphold obscenity; however, he stressed that the way obscenity is defined is the purview of the courts. He suggested that, with 65,000 new sites hourly, one couldn't rely on electronic filtering because a lot of protected information would be eliminated. He said the libraries in Baltimore just discovered that they couldn't get Superbowl XXXIV, for example. Mr. Pheneger noted the following additional ACLU objections to filering:

  • that filtering is so broad that legitimate sites can be easily blocked
  • that constitutionally protected speech can be blocked
  • No manufacturer of filtering software can guarantee that legitimated sites won't be blocked.

Mr. Pheneger asked that this be referred to Websense in the form of a question: "Can you guarantee that Websense Sex 1 and Sex 2 filters will not eliminate constitutionally protected speech and expression?" He added "if they can't guarantee that, then you can't guarantee that you won't be sued…."

He said that the ACLU does not support filtering for adults because "adults must be allowed to make choices that adults make." However, the ACLU does support protecting children although means other than filtering should be considered. He asked that the Library Board to withstand the political pressure being placed on them and requested that they relay the following question to Websense: "Can Websense guarantee that constitutionally protected speech and expression will not be filtered out?"

Mr. Pheneger went on to say that the Internet holds great promise, but also great risks because Boards can be sued. He added that the BOCC is asking the Library Board to take the heat. Mr. Pheneger commented that virtually every effort to enforce censorship of the Internet has been overturned by higher courts, including the United States Supreme Court. He said: "The Internet is so broad, so huge, that virtually every filtering attempt is guaranteed, on the face of it, to filter constitutionally protected sites." Mr. Pheneger stressed that everyone knows there are "nasty" things on the Internet and added: "What we have to do is rely on filtering to take care of children and segregation of terminals take care of children and let the adults turn around and do what adults are going to do. If you find people that are constantly misusing public facilities then we can take care of those cases on an individual basis."

Mr. Pheneger said once again that the ACLU would like to see the Library Board withstand political pressure. He added: "What you have recommended in your motion is practically impossible to do." He asked the Library Board to ask Websense if they could guarantee, the way they operate it, with the absence of human decisions, that every action they take will not filter out constitutionally protected speech and expression. "If the answer was "no", the Library Board would find itself in a situation it doesn't want to be in and the ACLU doesn't want to be in and that is to "get involved in legal action that would deprive the County and the Library of resources that you could use to buy books, additional Internet terminals, a set of physical arrangements to protect the sensibilities of people who use the Internet within the Library system and to allow that to be worked out in an intelligent way and allow the library to do what it is meant to do and not use it in the areas of litigation." Mr. Pheneger reiterated that the Internet has great potential as well as great risks but the way to manage that is not to use filters.

Bill Scheuerle said it appeared to be Commissioner Storms' opinion that the Library Board couldn't be sued. She suggested, furthermore, that if the ACLU were going to sue they would have already sued Orange County and Jacksonville. Bill asked if that were true. Mr. Pheneger replied, "Actually not; what we would do is chose our case very carefully, and we probably will sue, and based on that the ACLU has already sued the library system in Louden County, VA." Bill Scheuerle suggested that the Louden County case had no bearing on the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library. Mr. Pheneger replied: "The reasoning involved absolutely has bearing on the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System because the court, in that case, held that the filtration of constitutionally protected speech and expression was illegal." Mr. Pheneger said he had been advised by various attorneys that "prior censorship" is a "particularly odious kind of censorship--and that's the issue that's out there." He said the same issue applied in the Livermore Case, in California, and several other cases around the country. Several states have tried to impose this restriction on the Internet and the courts have overturned them. In the case of the ACLU vs. Reno, the Communications Decency Act was overturned. If it can be proven that Websense filters out constitutionally protected sites, then the ACLU would probably go to some effort to find out if this would be a good case to sue the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library. He added that he'd rather avoid that. Mr. Pheneger said the ACLU would rather work with the County on other solutions to the problem.

Websense Phone Interview with Brian Curry, Manager of Database Development for Websense

Al Carlson, Chief of Automated Systems & Services for the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library called Brian Curry, Manager of Database Development for Websense. Brian introduced himself and explained that he has the responsibility of building, managing and deploying the database used by Websense. He added that he also ensures that the category list is up-to-date and that the category list guidelines followed by the staff and the engineers who are responsible for the Websense database. The following verbatim conversation with Mr. Curry took place:

Elizabeth Blue: When coming across questionable material, do the people who do the filtering look at the site that the material is coming from, such as, whether or not it is an academic or medical site?

Brian Curry: Generally not. They are looking directly at the content on the page and drawing their conclusions from what is written on the page not from the URL that the site is delivered from.

Elizabeth Blue: It is very possible, then, that they could filter out information that is coming from an academic facility that would be useful to someone who's doing research into some of these subject matters.

Brian Curry: Well, there is material that is presented at edu sites that would be, by our category definitions, fitting within the category and, yes, regardless of the fact that it is an edu site, if it meets the category definition, it will be categorized as such.

Elizabeth Blue: Sex 1and Sex 2 are broad in their definitions. How do you determine the obscenity vs. the adult entertainment definition on that?

Brian Curry: It's actually very simple. Basically, if there is more than one person in the picture, that goes into one of the sex categories.

Elizabeth Blue: Is that the only guideline you use?

Brian Curry: No. It's much more detailed than that.

Joe Stines: It might be useful for you to share with the Board how the whole process works because everyone in this room feels that there is one person who sits down, surf's the net, come up with some sites, uses your criteria and decides whether to block it. I think they need to know the process you have in place.

Brian Curry: What you've described is actually a microcosm of what happens on a larger scale. Taking the category definitions, I have individuals that have the title of "Web Analysts" who are actually looking at web sites and then trying to make a determination about what category they would fit into. Once they've made that determination, that site is then posted to our database and what begins is actually a three-tiered process of quality assurance:

  • Tier 1- The individual himself has an opportunity the next day to review all the sites they've posted and make any modifications or changes they feel is appropriate.

  • Tier 2- A percentage of sites will be reviewed by other web analysts as well and those web analysts will have an opportunity to issue a contrary opinion about the web site in question. If that contrary opinion is noted, that actually springs a debate.

  • Tier 3- Postings of Web Analysts are reviewed by a team of Database Operations Associates who look to see that the guidelines of the category lists are being followed and definitions are being adhered to. They also arbitrate a decision when Web Analysts have differing opinions of web site categorization.

Elizabeth Blue: What guidelines are they looking at particularly?

Brian Curry: They look at our category list definitions. For example, under adult entertainment the definition provided is "full or partial nudity of individuals. This might include strip clubs, lingerie, erotica, sex toys, light adult humor and literature, escort services, adult-oriented password verification sites and prostitution. Sexually explicit language describing an act that would fit in this category is also categorized here." That is the definition of "adult entertainment."

In Websense 4 or 5, Sex 1 and Sex 2 have been combined into one category. The definition there is "heterosexual activity involving one or two persons, hardcore adult humor and literature, sexually explicit language describing acts that would fit into this category, homosexual and bi-sexual acts, orgies, swinging, bestiality, sadomasochism, Child pornography, pedophilia, fetishes and related hardcore adult humor and literature." I think you can draw from that that there is a quite distinct difference in the material found in "adult entertainment" than you'll find in the Sex 1 and Sex 2 categories.

Elizabeth Blue: Can Websense guarantee that the Sex 1 and 2 filter would not block constitutionally protected speech and expression?

Brian Curry: No.

Elizabeth Blue: Who gets a job with you as a Web-Analyst or a Database Operations Associate?

Brian Curry: By the vocabulary that we use, filtering is a decision made by Administration of a web site or a proxy server or firewall. The analysts made decisions about categorization. They are, generally speaking, college educated, multi-lingual. I have right now French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. I have some individuals that are more familiar with some categories than others. For instance, I have a group of people who are very savvy about entertainment. I have another that is much more politically oriented. And, I also have a technically oriented group as well.

Elizabeth Blue: What age range do they fall into? Are they 21 and over?

Brian Curry: Yes.

Elizabeth Blue: No one is under 21?

Brian Curry: Right.

Elizabeth Blue: Do most of your employees fit the age group between 20 and 30?

Brian Curry: Most are between the ages of 20 and 30. I think the oldest one is 29.

Bill Scheuerle: When you say college-educated do you mean they have graduated from college?

Brian Curry: No--but they have had some college. That's why I said "college-educated" not "college graduates."

Bill Scheuerle: How many semesters have they attended? One semester? Two semesters?

Brian Curry: Off the top of my head, I am not positive. I think they're all either involved in college to some degree. Some are not--but they've probably got an Associates.

Elizabeth Blue: What is the turnover rate of your employees?

Brian Curry: Among the Web Analysts? I'd have to say probably around 10%. It's actually much higher among the engineering staff these days because of a very competitive salary situation in that area.

Elizabeth Blue: How do you specifically train them when they come to you for a job?

Brian Curry: Once they've been hired, we try to determine their aptitude, if any, for foreign languages. After that, they join a training team and in that training team they'll work very closely with the Database Operations Associates Team, learning what the category definitions are, learning about the Internet, learning the topography of the Internet, and learning how to post in the most efficient manner possible. Their time in the training team is generally less than 90 days.

Bill Scheuerle: You're talking about both male and female?

Brian Curry: Yes.

Helen Swisshelm: What percent of filtered sites are posted by your analysts, human beings, and what percent are posted electronically?

Brian Curry: We have automated posting activities at this time; however, they have been so dramatically successful that they are not posting much anymore. They are primarily involved with pornography. Today, I would say, the automated systems account may be 4-5% of new posts. That's because the automated systems are focused almost exclusively on pornography.

Helen Swisshelm: How do you distinguish between obscenity and pornography?

Brian Curry: We do not attempt to make that distinction.

Elizabeth Blue: A report stated that there are 65,000 new sites on the Internet hourly. How is it even possible you are able to review as many as 65,000 new sites hourly?

Brian Curry: I don't believe that number is an accurate number. Based upon some research we have done here at Websense, and we have not published it, I believe that the Internet is far smaller than the number you cited.

Bill Scheuerle: Let's say it's even half that.

Brian Curry: It's not even half that. It's maybe 1/100th of that.

Bill Scheuerle: So that's 6500 an hour?

Brian Curry: At best, yes.

Bill Scheuerle: Could you go through 6500 sites in an hour?

Brian Curry: No--we process approximately 10,000 sites per hour. There is a lot of stuff out there on the Internet that we, at this point, are not categorizing. We are simply trying to provide a filtering solution that provides information about sites that are in the categories of greatest interest to our customers. We would certainly wish to find all that material, but that's not our mission at this time.

Elizabeth Blue: How do you even go about determining what sites to even start looking at. Do they go in by keyword, find some of the domain names and start typing in domain names off of words like that?

Brian Curry: No. The Web Analysts have a couple of responsibilities. Their primary responsibility is something called "URL collection and processing". And, with URL collection and processing, they spend half their time free surfing and half their time reviewing sites from the suggested database. The suggested database is a database of URL's that is populated by various crawlers, minors and listening devices that are collecting web sites from the Internet and then adding them to the suggested database to be reviewed by a human being.

Joe Stines: Brian, I don't think it's clear what you mean when you refer to your "non-human" employees. Can you clarify how that works?

Brian Curry: Yes. We have an automated processing system that tends to categorize the web sites that are collected by our automated collection systems. This automated processing system operates as a basian electrical analysis classifier, which means that it looks at pairs of words and word phrases and associates them with a numeric value and then that numerical value is summed up on the page and, based upon a statistical analysis that is done, if that score meets the threshold, it can be posted automatically to the Websense database. If it fails to meet that threshold, it then is posted to the suggested database to be reviewed by a person. And, if it falls below any of the lower thresholds, it is retained for future use, but I can't really talk about what those future uses are.

Elizabeth Blue: In the case of the Library situation, if a librarian comes across a site that she does not feel needs to be filtered, what is Websense's response time to taking that block off?

Brian Curry: If they send an e-mail to our suggested Websense.com e-mail address, we will generally have a resolution within 72 hours.

Joe Stines: Is that true of adding as well?

Brian Curry: Yes. We get stuff into suggested Websense.com and the reason why it has to be 72 hours is we occasionally get hundreds of sites from people that they want to have categorized and then my staff will basically review every single one of those sites and make a determination on them before giving back a response. And, when you get 200 sites in, that takes some time to get those reviewed and get those turned around.

Joe Stines: Is it not true, if I, as a Librarian, found that a site a patron shows to me that I can unblock immediately, it would get trapped again the next time until you have taken action. Is that the way it works?

Brian Curry: Not necessarily. I'm not sure what Websense product you're considering purchasing but there is a feature called "Custom URL" and, with the Custom URL, it's possible to custom permit or custom deny access to a web site.

Joe Stines: We have that. We have Websense already. I don't think we've told you. And, we do have that capability. Correct?

Brian Curry: You can get an immediate response using that capability.

Joe Stines: But it would get trapped again until you've taken it out of our profile?

Brian Curry: Oh, I can't take it out of your profile. Once you make a change, once you add a custom permit or custom deny, that action is processed before the request hits the primary Websense database. So, if you're saying: "I want to allow access to espn.com but I'm blocking sports, any request that goes to espn.com will be permitted before that request goes to the main Websense database and a block is found against it.

Joe Stines: So we have changed our profile the moment we've unblocked it and it's unblocked from that point on. We've made that decision?

Brian Curry: Right. And, nothing that I do inside the primary Websense database after that will affect your custom profile.

Elizabeth Blue: Brian, if you go to a search engine and enter a keyword, it's my understanding that you are filtering out by domain name.

Brian Curry: Actually, we filter by IP addresses but domain name and IP address are almost interchangeable.

Elizabeth Blue: If I were to go into a search engine and enter a keyword and that keyword is a metatag for that particular site, will that filter still take out that site?

Brian Curry: No. You'll get your responses from the search engine but when you try to click on the links to visit the sites that responded to the search engine, that's when the Websense product would step in and say "You're not allowed to go to this web site."

Elizabeth Blue: So it would filter it out by that. And the same if there was a link to a particular site?

Brian Curry: Right. You'll still see the link but you just won't be able to access it.

Elizabeth Blue: Because it's taking it out by the URL?

Brian Curry: Right. The Websense product is not aware of your desire to go to that site until you click on the hyperlink and make an http request to go to that domain.

Elizabeth Blue: How many libraries nationwide are presently using Websense?

Brian Curry: I'm sorry. I don't know. You'd have to talk to someone in sales about that.

Elizabeth Blue: Have you gotten many complaints from the users of Websense or have any withdrawn. If so, why?

Brian Curry: I function as 3rd tier tech. support and so I only get to talk to people who have issues and problems with Websense. Or, I do pre-sales. I'm not sure what your stage is but I do those calls as well. I'm always very pleasantly surprised when I hear that people are willing to do interviews or otherwise stand up for the Websense product. They're out there. I just don't have the privilege of interacting with them.

Bill Scheuerle: How many complaints do you get?

Brian Curry: I generally receive around 300 pieces of traffic a week into my suggested Websense.com account. I don't know if I could characterize all of them as complaints. Sometimes, they're comments, questions, requests to add sites or delete sites, questions about why a site is being blocked and that type of thing. But, I have a very active customer base.

Joe Stines: These can come in from actual users as well as librarians. Is that correct?

Brian Curry: Correct. Anyone can send an e-mail message to suggest@websense.com.

Joe Stines: So any patron that finds blocks can e-mail you in addition to notifying the Library--so that these can come from all patrons as well as library staff or anybody like that.

Brian Curry: Yes.

Anniece Ross: What is the frequency of IP addresses being identified by the Web Analyst and t then being questioned by the second tier and going to the third tier?

Brian Curry: Generally speaking, I have much higher rates of debate with new people and then, after they mature, the debate rate drops dramatically. For a mature Web Analyst, I generally see a debate rate fewer than 5% of overall sites.

Anniece Ross: If you were responsible for the guidelines, how are they conveyed to the Web Analysts who are in the learning phase that there are constitutional guidelines that shouldn't be violated?

Brian Curry: We actually have an Editorial Board at Websense that makes decisions about the category list and how the definitions will be phrased and what categories will exist. And, that Board does consult with outside resources in the process of developing the definitions. That category list that they write, and I'm a part of the board too, is available to the Web Analysts both in a written format as well as on the Internet page so they see the definition as laid out on the Internet.

Elizabeth Blue: Is that the same definition that I have for the Websense Database Categorization Criteria?

Brian Curry: I'm not sure what document that is.

Joe Stines: Brian, they have the short form. What we have here in front of us is just the short definitions that are listed for those three categories on your web site. We don't have the long definitions.

Brian Curry: That's a more limited example of what we have internally. Internally, what we have is definitions. We also have key words that help an analyst make a decision about a page. For example, if it rated as 8, it's one of the hardest categories to make a decision about because a lot of material on those pages can sound very innocent but it isn't because are double meanings. An individual who doesn't have a very wide knowledge of anti-Semitism or racism, for example, might miss what the page is about.

Bill Scheuerle: Brian, have you ever had any meeting, correspondence, etc., with representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union regarding the constitutionality of what you're doing?

Brian Curry: Not myself directly, no.

Bill Scheuerle: Has your company?

Brian Curry: I believe there has been some.

Bill Scheuerle: Was there any outcome that you know of?

Brian Curry: Every case, I think, was basically dropped. The Websense product is employed by private corporations. Government institutions obviously have a different set of rules regarding how they're going to use it. But, even in a governmental or public institution, you could use the product in an unintrusive mode, a passive mode, after the fact, if individuals are accessing web sites of a certain character. But, to go back to the original question, I don't believe anyone has withdrawn the use of Websense because of a legal challenge.

As there were no other questions, Elizabeth Blue thanked Brian Curry for his time. This ended the conversation between Brian Curry, Database Manager for Websense, members of the Library Board and Library staff.

Mr. Steve Phillippy introduced himself and said he was a computer consultant and Chairperson for the Greater Tampa Chapter of the ACLU. He added that he has been on the ACLU Board at the state level for about 10 years and, as such, he has been the chief advocate for cyberspace analysis. He said this is the future of civil liberties and information. Mr. Phillippy said his basic purpose in coming to the Library Board meeting was to support the position of the American Library Association. He read the American Library Association's position into the record, quoting from Item #23 in the Library Bill of Rights located on the American Library Association web site: "Those using software that filters or blocks access to electronic information resources on the Internet violate this policy. The use of filters implies a promise to protect the user from objectionable materials yet this task is impossible given current technology and the inability to find, absolutely, the information to be blocked. The filters available would place the library in a position of restricting access to information. The library's role is to provide access to information from which individuals choose materials for themselves."

Mr. Phillippy went on to say that the ACLU does favor, in their executive summary, the protection of children and reasonable use by the public. Among those things that the ACLU suggests are screens on Internet terminals so that individuals could do their searches in private. The ACLU also suggests the training of young individuals in how to search the Internet. He said there is concern over a very small portion of the Internet. He sited medical information and the Planned Parenthood site as examples of legitimated sites that could be blocked. He said the ACLU is concerned for individuals who go to college, for example, can't afford a computer and need to use the library's. He stressed that a lot of people fall into this category and added that those people should have their rights protected.

Mr. Phillippy said again that the ACLU favors the following:

  • the American Library Association's position
  • the current policy of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library
  • protecting children
  • parental control of choosing or not choosing filtering for their child

Fred Hearns asked if there was a library system in the State of Florida where the screens are being used. Mr. Phillippy said he didn't know. He added: "I know neither positively or negatively." Joe Stines interjected that he had not located one that uses screens on its computers.

Joe Stines asked Mr. Phillippy which counties are included in his ALCU territory. Mr. Phillippy responded that the five counties are Hillsborough, Pasco, Sumpter, Hernando and Polk.

Helen Swisshelm asked the following question of Mr. Phillippy: "If this is an issue with the ACLU, why haven't you gone legally after the libraries in Orange County, for example." Mr. Phillippy answered that the ACLU doesn't have the resources. Cases have to be chosen very carefully. He added that the ACLU would prefer to choose cases where they have a good chance of winning. That would be up to the ACLU's legal panel. If there were a higher probably of winning a case in Tampa, then the state's resources would go to this particular case. He said the ACLU's legal panel would determine the highest probability of winning. He stressed that the ACLU is very careful about the cases it takes because they of the cost involved. He said it could also cost Hillsborough County tens of thousands of dollars if the ACLU were to sue.

Helen commented that, if she remembered correctly, that was one of the arguments Commissioner Storms used when she came and presented her views to the Board, saying that the ACLU would not sue Hillsborough County because they don't have the resources. She said she could understand the ACLU's strategy--that they were waiting to pick and choose.

Mr. Phillippy agreed and said the ACLU did pick and choose its first case--the Louden County, VA case. It picked the ACLU vs. Reno in the Supreme Court. He said there would probably be a suit here in Florida. He added: "Frankly, from my perspective, this would be a good suit if it goes the wrong way." He said that the person from Websense admitted that they don't have an adequate training program. Nor, could he guarantee that constitutionally protected speech and expression would not be filtered out. In fact, his answer was one word: "no". There is no guarantee that Websense will not filter constitutionally protected speech and expression. Mr. Phillippy said: "In one word, if you adopt this policy, you will, with a high degree of probability, filter out constitutionally protected speech and be liable to be sued."

Anniece Ross said that wasn't her understanding of what was said. Mr. Phillippy said again that Mr. Curry was asked whether he could guarantee that Websense Sex 1 and Sex 2 would not filter out constitutional speech and expression. Mr. Curry's answer to this question was one word. "No" Mr. Phillippy concluded by saying that the purveyor of software has told the Library Board that their action might result in the unconstitutional filtration of protected speech and expression.

Mr. Phillippy asked if this Library Board meeting was public record. Joe Stines responded that it was. Mr. Phillippy asked that this particular statement be recorded. He said: "I would specifically ask that statement to be recorded." Anniece Ross agreed that this was a critical point.

Anniece asked about the guidelines for Sex 1 and Sex 2. Joe explained that Websense has combined the two categories in the later versions adding that THPL does not have the capability of upgrading to versions 4.0 or 5.0 because it's an NT environment. He said the Library's equipment would only run the existing environment or software, which allows use of Sex 1 and Sex 2. He added that it would be like an upgrade of any other software. THPL is still on 3.0.

Anniece said Sex 1 and Sex 2 was described as "the worst of the worst." Joe agreed and reiterated that items in these categories were considered obscene. Elizabeth Blue commented that the items in Sex 1 and Sex 2 would not be considered constitutionally protected. Anniece agreed that this was her understanding--that the items in Sex 1 and Sex 2 were not constitutionally protected speech or expression. Adult entertainment would fall into this, though there were no guarantees that legitimate sites wouldn't be blocked. Bill Scheuerle pointed out that anything involving more than one person would fall into Sex 1 and Sex 2.

Sandra Cameron asked that the Library Board recognize the last member of the public wishing to speak.

Robert Weinguard thanked the Library Board for their time. He said the federal government has not come out and stopped all the material that may be considered obscene or pornographic on the web. But, now groups are trying to do that. He said he'd protested against the ordinance to ban lap dancing in spite of one minister's admonition that he would go straight to hell. Mr. Weinguard said he'd heard that the ordinance passed; however, now there is no way to enforce it. He said his 93 year old father thought it was ridiculous and was asking how the government could interfere with individual rights. He quoted the Bible and said: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." He continued by saying: "I won't censor you, if you won't censor me. I think that's right and proper." He also quoted Abraham Lincoln: "The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do so well for themselves in their separate and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, the government ought not to interfere." Mr. Weinguard suggested that it is not up to a governing body or system to tell an individual what is right or wrong with pornographic……… (inaudible) or whether he or she should participate in it or not. He said this was a victimless crime, for all intents and purposes. He noted that the city of Denver allowed pornography and it eventually became rather passé. Mr. Weinguard sited the European attitude toward nudity, pornography, etc. as another example. He said the bottom line is that people should be able to think for themselves. When people go into "sex sites" they should have the choice of whether to go into the site or not. He also questioned the ability of Websense to do what they claim to be able to do with their filter and said he wondered how many of the twenty and thirty-year olds looking at these sites all day end up preying on children and raping women. Mr. Weinguard ended his comments by quoting from Lincoln's Gettysburg address: "We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from this earth." He summarized by saying that he does not pay taxes for the Library Board or Library System to make these kinds of decisions and that he resented paying a penny for such a system to continue to perpetuate some form of morality be it on the Internet or lap dancing. He said this was a reversion to a kind of Victorianism that no one appreciates in the year 2000.

Sandra Cameron said the Library Board had received two other letters against filtering. Bill Scheuerle asked if they were from individuals or groups. Sandra said they were from individuals.

Sandra quoted Mr. Kleman who noted that the Library Board is faced with the challenge of "balancing the needs of the community, the legal obligation to respect the right of free speech and an equally important obligation to protect minors from pornography."

Elizabeth Blue reminded the Board that the issue was really not pornography. She said that has already been considered "o.k."; rather it is a matter of pornography vs. obscenity. In other words it is against materials that would be considered unconstitutionally protected. Liz noted that Mr. Curry admitted that Websense couldn't guarantee that their filter wouldn't eliminate constitutionally protected information; nor he could not guarantee that users would be protected from sites that are not constitutionally protected. She emphasized that it works both ways. A few sites that are constitutionally protected may be filtered out but, at the same time, you'll have people getting sites that should have been filtered. She said: "This is not an easy answer, and we all know that." Liz pointed out that she felt from the start that there is no way to filter all of the sites on the Internet. However, the decision of the Library Board now was whether or not to use a filter that will eliminate "the worst of the worst." If that were the case, the Board would need to vote in favor of a filter. If we decide that we do not want to filter it will more than likely be imposed upon us either way and then that can be taken care of however it's done. I think the thing that we need to determine is what's right for the Library Board in consideration of all citizens because there are going to be those who will want to see the sites that are filtered and those who don't. She said again: "This is not against filtering pornography. We're filtering things like child pornography which is illegal."

Helen Swisshelm commented that she admired what the Internet Use Subcommittee had done. They had worked very hard on an issue that is obviously not going to go away. They had come back with some wonderful conclusions that were arrived at "outside of politics", professionally, and with the help of Library staff who have been in this business for a long time. Helen pointed out that the following recommendations had been made and approved by the Library Board (March 25, 1999 Library Board Meeting; vote regarding Filtering Options; 9-0 in favor of Option 4):

  • Children's computers, for ages Birth-14, would be filtered. She said she didn't think anyone on the Library Board would object to filtering for children and added "that is a given--we don't even give them the option." She said she was under the impression that there were Thor Jr. computers in every library.
  • Open access to the Internet would be provided for teens ages 15-17 unless parents denied access.
  • Adults would have open, unfiltered Internet access.
  • Chat rooms and games would not be permitted. Helen said she didn't understand why the Library Board said Chat Rooms were not O.K. but e-mail was, knowing that e-mail can be a source of solicitation and other things. She said she questioned spending tax dollars so customers could send e-mail to people in California. She said it's not pornography but still she still saw a contradiction there.

Helen went on to say that the Library Board had a plan but then politics "jumped in" and the Library Board had to consider filtering machines for everyone. She said that's where the waters got muddied. She said: "I would like to see us, as a Board, go back to what the Committee originally presented to this Board, and, and we approved."

Elizabeth Blue agreed but noted that not every library facility has a children's computer. In other words, there are facilities where children can access full Internet. She said she didn't know whether the answer would be to filter computers in libraries that don't have Thor Jr. computers and leave the others alone or what.

Fred Hearns said he'd raised the same concern with the Commissioners because it will call for additional resources. If there are to be non-filtered and filtered computers at every library facility, it will cost more money. He asked whether the Board of County Commissioners would be willing to approve this. Elizabeth said it wasn't even a matter of the money so much as the space.

Joe agreed and handed out information on space available in each facility. He also clarified one comment by saying that Thor Jr. is not "Internet Access for Children"; rather, it is a group of selected sites that librarians have chosen for children. He added: "So, if you follow Helen's suggestion, you will be saying that no child (and the age will need to be determined) will have open access to the Internet." He explained that Library staff's dilemma would be to determine an age and emphasized again that the Thor Jr. computers are already heavily filtered. If a child needed to do research on the Internet, he or she, wouldn't be able to do so.

Helen said that, if the Library had implemented the Internet Use Plan devised in 1997, a list of sites for children (up to age 18) would have been built up. Joe said staff members have been trying to gather the information but library card applications do not indicate birth dates. He said he wasn't aware of that when this was first discussed. He said he would have a hard time doing it tomorrow if he had to because it will take some time to get the information. He said where in the room these computers would be placed would also have to be determined. The problem is how to keep young people or adults from walking by and seeing things they don't want to see. Site Coordinators in small branches that have very limited space even complain that they have to lose a computer with full access when they bring in a Thor Jr. computer. He said it's a real complication. He also pointed out that "displaying, printing, sending or storing obscene, libelous, threatening or harassing material" is against the Library's Code of Conduct, which was officially approved by the Library Board. He said that would have to be revised if the Library Board changes and goes in a different direction because "if the filter guys can't do it how can we." He said staff would need to be trained if this is going to be enforced. He added that David Barberie, Assistant County Attorney for Library Services, had pointed out that the Library's Code of Conduct could even be challenged in a court of law. Joe suggested that using Websense with Sex 1 and Sex 2 would give the Library some assistance in enforcing its own Code of Conduct. He said he needed direction.

Referring back to Helen's Swisshelm's comments, Joe said staff members could do their best to enforce denying full access to anyone under the age of 18. However, this would deny high school children the chance to do research. It doesn't mean they couldn't have other computer resources; they would just not have open access. He pointed out that, in many facilities, there are sometimes only one or two computers with open access. Most have a computer configured with Thor Jr. but that is really for the very small children. These computers are locked down so much that the user can do only what the Library allows them to. Some computers have filtering because they have been designated for subscription-based products. Joe said all but 48 computers in the THPL system are filtered in some way; for example, the computers in recreation centers are filtered. In fact, Websense is working very well in the E-Libraries (Electronic Libraries).

Bill Scheuerle pointed out that there are 353 computers in the THPL system. 305 already have some type of filtering. Joe said that was correct but it would be better to say "filtering or management." 48 are unfiltered but even these do not allow CHAT. Games are not blocked, however. Games are blocked on the Thor Jr. computers.

Marcee Challener pointed out that is against the Library's policy to use the computers to play games because this is not within the mission of the Library. Joe agreed and said there was a time limit as well.

Helen Swisshelm said: "We've come full circle. The problem is the teenagers." Joe said that the world had grown a lot more complicated since 1997 when the first Internet Access Management Plan was considered by the Library Board. When the first policy was adopted, there was need for very little discussion. Since then there have been many incidents-more at THPL than at most other library systems in Florida. Orange County voted to filter with Sex 1 and Sex 2. In Duvall County (Jacksonville), the Library Board chose the same option. However, these are the only two categories that they filter.

Helen Swisshelm asked why it was the purview of a Library Board to make decisions about this problem at all. She asked why it wouldn't be the purview of Law Enforcement. Sandra Cameron commented that the Internet is "a vast unregulated wilderness" like the wild, wild, west.

Mr. Pheneger said he liked Helen Swisshelm's suggestion because of the Library's need to bring all services to all customers no matter where they are. He said the ACLU would not come after the THPL System if it had a policy and had to make a couple of exceptions in order to adequately protect children. He added that it wouldn't be in the interest of the ACLU to come after the Library with guns blazing. He said the ACLU would favor unfiltered access for adults, however. He said: "Don't get the idea that Sex 1 and Sex 2 equals obscenity because it doesn't. Sex 1 and Sex 2 equals pornography. Obscenity is illegal; pornography isn't." He said again, that the ACLU would like to work with the Library Board and Library System to allow adults full access to the Internet. Adults can make the decision about where they want to go and where they don't want to go. They ought to have the right to do that.

Elizabeth Blue agreed but said one could enter a domain name and pull up obscenity without any warning ahead of time. Mr. Pheneger agreed that it was conceivable that this could happen. It would be like taking a wrong turn, in fact. He said there was no way to prevent that; but one did have the capability of backing out. The question becomes: "Do you really want to try to take on that problem for everyone?"

Sandra Cameron asked if the filter could be turned on at some sites but not others. Al Carlson, Chief of Automated Systems and Services, answered "yes." He said every pc has an ip address. Websense and Firewall work together to identify that individual address. He said staff could be so precise as to block one and not another in the same building. Joe agreed and said that was how the Thor Jr. computers were blocked. All but one computer in the entire system could be blocked, for example.

Bill Scheuerle suggested that the Library Board deal with access-- not censorship per se. Elizabeth Blue agreed and said that the Internet Use Subcommittee members had had discussions about the definitions of "Sex 1" and "Sex 2." She said she felt no more enlightened after speaking to Brian Curry. She said if she could be guaranteed that everything that was unconstitutional was going to be filtered out, she wouldn't have a moment's hesitation. She added: "As it stands right now, the way the technology is, it's going to come through no matter what."

Bill Scheuerle stressed that he realized the problems that the Library has with access. He said he'd studied all the information that had been passed out. He said he understood the reluctance of setting up accessible computers because it's like going into a video store and they have the adult videos in the back in a little room. He said he would still like to fall back on the access route rather than the censorship route. 305 computers are, in some way, filtered. There are still 48 that are not filtered. He suggested limiting the access so the librarians could have supervision of the unfiltered computers to see that children are not using them and to see that they are used for the proper purpose.

Joe guessed that might be one in each area, if even that was possible. The other alternative would be to cut back on some of the other services that the Library is providing. He said Commissioner Storms proved that the Library failed--it was impossible to tell if a person is 10, 15 or 18. Marcee Challener said that would be her concern as well because the demand for Internet access has grown to the extent that the Library's machines are almost always in use. She added that there is often a waiting list. If children are limited to certain machines, the supply and demand would be a problem. It would also be a challenge for staff to determination the age of the child and explain why he or she couldn't use the computers for adults if they were not in use. Marcee said these things need to be taken into consideration.

Bill Scheuerle asked if there would be more problems in filtering all machines or just some. Joe responded that his colleagues in Orange County and Jacksonville have said that the filters don't stop it all and it doesn't mean you won't get complaints from mothers because "Johnny" saw something he shouldn't have. Nevertheless, the definitions have generally held true. In other words, Johnny would have probably seen nudity rather than hardcore sex. Joe went on to say that Orlando Public and Jacksonville Public have viewed Websense as an aid to their staff. They also do no monitoring. They chose to filter with Sex 1 and Sex 2 because to go any further than that would be to increase the risk that useful information would be eliminated regularly. He reminded the Library Board that, with the version of Websense under consideration, sites can be unblocked immediately by a librarian and added that there could even be a review process. Joe said this is done in Orange County. In fact the same form is used for both books and web sites. A form could be used for anything that a customer objects to, whether it is something relating to sex, witches, racism, etc.

Joe continued by saying that it would be a major expense to locate children's computers away from adult computers. There will always be a chance that a child could see something he or she shouldn't. Bill Scheuerle asked if Playboy is available at every branch. Joe said it was available only at the John Germany Library.

Mike Pheneger interjected that he could not see having unfiltered computers at the downtown library only, but perhaps at the downtown facility and regionals with the idea of expanding service in the future. Kay O'Rourke agreed that regional libraries should be included, as did Bill Scheuerle.

Susan Oliver, Site Coordinator for the North Tampa Branch Library, said that staffing could become an issue more than anything else. She said there wasn't enough staff as it was to teach people to use the computer.

Bill Scheuerle suggested that where to locate the filtered or unfiltered machines should be a management decision. Helen Swisshelm said that was fine, but she would feel bad if she had to go downtown or to a regional library for a tax form. Bill Scheuerle responded that tax forms would be available on filtered machines. He suggested that, if a computer can be managed or monitored, it could be unfiltered. The rest would be up to management.

Fred Hearns commented that the difficulty lay in trying to provide everything for everyone. He said: "You're just not going to do it." He agreed with the idea of providing unfiltered computers at the large facilities and filtered computers at the smaller branch. Joe Stines responded that all customers want equal service. Fred countered that, in light of the dilemma facing the Board, it needed to be considered as an option.

Bill Scheuerle suggested that Genealogy is at the John Germany Library. Playboy is at the John Germany Library. Why not filter all computers at all branches and keep some unfiltered computers at the John Germany Library?

Mike Pheneger said the ACLU would probably get excited about THPL offering unfiltered access at the John German Library only. He suggested it would be better to include the large, regional facilities, as well, where there is the space to do so. He said the ACLU could accept that if the objective, in the long run, would be to have unfiltered access at all branches. He said the Library would obviously want to expand services as budget allows.

MOTION:

Elizabeth Blue made a motion that the Library Board allow unfiltered computers at the John F. Germany Public Library and regional facilities, depending upon the availability of staff to monitor, and to filter computers in all other facilities with Websense Sex 1 and Sex 2, with Management making the decision regarding the number and placement of the computers in each facility. It was seconded by Fred Hearns.
(Blue/Hearns)

      - The motion passed 8-0

PUBLIC ART:

None.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

None.

NEW BUSINESS:

None.

DIRECTOR'S REPORT:

None.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:

  • Bill Scheuerle said he'd met with people from the Westchase community as a member of the Friends. He promised that Maureen Gauzza would be called and asked staff to follow up with her.

  • Sandra Cameron read a letter from a citizen requesting that the location of the Brandon Regional Library be moved to Clayton Plaza so that more parking would be available.

  • 78th St. Sign- Fred Hearns reported that the sign is up and lit.

  • Joe Stines said he'd had another very good meeting regarding the new NRW Library. The Library Board will be invited to a groundbreaking very soon.

  • A reception will be held for members of the Long-Range Planning Taskforce prior to the next Library Board meeting on 2/24.

  • West Tampa- The County has closed on the Henderson property and acquired the right-of-way through the church property. The County is still hard at work trying to secure the last piece of land for West Tampa. The owner of this parcel forgot that he had a first option letter from another person in the neighborhood. This individual wants the County to buy his property as well. Joe said it all comes down to money. $140,000 more is needed in the budget.

ADJOURNMENT:

The meeting was adjourned at 6:15pm

Next Library Board Meeting:
         Date: February 24, 2000
         Time: 4pm-6pm
         Location: John F. Germany Public Library

                 - Unless notified otherwise


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