Caldier’s bill seeks to protect children from public library internet porn

State Rep. Michelle Caldier wants to ensure children who visit public libraries in Washington state are never again exposed to pornography displayed on computer screens.

The 26th District lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require public libraries to adopt and enforce an internet safety policy preventing minors from accessing harmful online pornography and obscene visual depictions.

“Last year, a mother brought her daughter to the library in Gig Harbor. As they walked through the library, out in the open and on public display was a man watching pornography on a computer. Concerned her daughter would see these graphic images, she complained to the library staff and was told they have an 'open internet access' policy,” said Caldier, R-Port Orchard.

Although the library staff offered to politely ask the man to refrain and go to a private viewing area, Caldier said any lewd, lascivious images being displayed in a public library where children can see them is completely unacceptable.

“I don't want my taxpayer dollars being used to allow children to be exposed to internet pornography in our public libraries. I'm concerned about children having access to these online sites,” added Caldier. “Even though a youth library card may restrict young people from using the computer for sites that display porn, often parents loan their library cards to their children, which provides full access.”

House Bill 1635 would require public libraries to deploy technology protections that prevent patrons from “gaining access to visual depictions that are obscene or child pornography, and prevents minors from gaining access to visual depictions that are harmful to minors.” Patrons needing access for research or other lawful purposes may request the protections to be temporarily disabled.

Caldier notes that if a library wishes to be exempt from the bill requirements, it must adopt a resolution at a public meeting of the board of trustees after the public has had an opportunity to comment. The resolution must be placed on the next election's ballot and must receive a majority approval by the voters before an exemption is allowed.

“This gives the public — the ones who own these libraries with their tax dollars — a voice in the process. Let the voters decide,” said Caldier.

“Personally, I am on the side of protecting our innocent children,” she added. “If an adult wishes to watch obscene images and indecent videos that are legal, they should do it in the privacy of their own home — not in a public library using taxpayer-funded facilities and equipment to display in full view of children.”

The measure has been referred to the House Local Government Committee.

###

Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov