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Md. Libraries Worried About Porn-As-Free-Speech Ruling In N.Y.

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Library visitors in Maryland see an “access denied” message when they try to view pornographic websites.  But in New York, thanks to a freedom of speech policy, it’s legal. 

Gigi Barnett reports it’s a move that has libraries here on edge.

Walk into any library in New York and it’s an anything-goes policy.  Visitors there can view full-fledged pornography on public computers.  The library system there says it’s free speech, protected by the First Amendment.  Try the same thing in Maryland, and it’s access denied.

“We can’t accommodate anyone who wants to look at pornography,” said Enoch Pratt spokesman Roswell Encina.

Encina says the library blocks porn to protect children.  The filters are federal law.

“Any public library–including ourselves–that receives federal funding for Internet access, it clearly states that the library needs to put some sort of filters on their computers to prohibit minors from having access,” Encina said.

But in Maryland, it’s not just federal law that blocks pornography from these computers, it’s also state law.

Some library visitors, like Mary Kelly, says illicit websites don’t belong in the public library.

“Pornography is dangerous, in my opinion, for children,” Kelly said.

But others say if it’s contained and controlled, it’s OK.

“Maybe they can have a time limit when the kids aren’t in there or maybe a small section where you can go and look at your pornography,” said Michael Douglas.

Enoch Pratt says about 30 percent of its visitors use the computers.

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