Westchester Library System discusses Internet privacy and protection

The use of the Internet by child predators to find and contact underage victims has become an all too common story these days. Law enforcement, especially in Westchester, has set up sting operations to catch them. But it's your local librarian that is being asked to police the Internet now that libraries provide Web access.

Libraries provide everyone access to vast stores of knowledge. And that access has increased now that libraries provide computers that are linked to the Internet. But the Internet can, and has been used by predators to lure underage children into sexually explicit chat rooms or even worse. So on Saturday, members of the Westchester Library System discussed aspects of Internet privacy and protection.

Whether Internet predators would use library computers is problematic. Many believe monitoring needs to be done inside libraries but it shouldn't be left to the librarian. Librarians, including those in Westchester, say they would cooperate with any investigation concerning a threat to children but they can't be computer cops.

Many at the discussion on Saturday say there should be some type of filtering software on computers. In fact, the Federal Child Internet Protection Act now mandates that libraries that obtain federal funds use filter software to prevent access to inappropriate material.

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