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Published: Thursday, 11/13/2003

Bill insists libraries monitor Web use


COLUMBUS - Libraries would lose state funding if they do not restrict juveniles Internet access under a bill that got its first hearing yesterday.

The legislation would align Ohio law with federal guidelines on Internet use in libraries, Sen. Steve Austria, the bill s sponsor, said.

Libraries also would have to deny R-rated movie loans to patrons under 17 unless the teens have their parents permission.

The legislature in 1997 required library boards to develop policies that limited Internet access. Most use filtering programs that block Web sites with certain words or images. The bill by Mr. Austria (R., Beavercreek) would put the guidelines into law.

The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library is in compliance with the bill s two provisions affecting libraries, library officials said.

Library computers in the children s department have been installed with software to filter Web sites inappropriate for children for some time, Chris Kozak, a library spokesman said.

Patrons under 18 who use other library computers must have a library Internet card signed by a parent or guardian and display it while at library computers, he said.

The library has a more restrictive policy on videos than the proposed law: Patrons must be 18 to check out videos that do not have a “G” rating.

The bill also would make it a crime to sell prepaid “porn cards” to juveniles. The cards allow a person access to pornography Web sites for a limited time, such as 10 days or 30 days, for a fee. The penalty for selling to a juvenile would range from probation to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. If the juvenile was under 13, the penalty could range from six months to one year in prison.

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