Free Speech Victory in San Jose

Apr 23, 2009
Nicole A. Ozer

Page Media

ACLU of Northern CA

A big thumbs up to the San José City Council for standing up for free speech and against censorship on Tuesday night and voting against the installation of internet blocking software on library computers.

After 18 months of hard work by the ACLU, coalition partners, and concerned individuals like you who contacted Council members to support open access, free speech prevailed in San José. The City Council voted 7-3 to say no to a restrictive, new policy that would have put important Internet resources behind the curtain of digital censorship.

As we have blogged about repeatedly, some local legislators have been waging war on open access in the libraries, citing minuscule problems with library users accessing sexually explicit Internet sites (four complaints out of 7 million visitors in San José) as an excuse to impose Internet filtering and restrictive use policies that will keep essential health, LGBT, and political information out of reach for many.

Studies have consistently shown that filtering software blocks sites that should not be blocked. Examples of sites that have been blocked by filtering software include:

  • World War II history sites;
  • PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – a LGBT support and advocacy group);
  • the American Urological Association;
  • and Victims of Pornography (an anti-pornography support group).

Click here for a link to the studies.

Thank you to San Jose Council members Chirco (absent), Liccardo, Kalra, Nguyen, Chu, Campos, Pyle, and Herrera for supporting free speech and making the right decision by speaking up to ensure that the Capital of Silicon Valley is supporting open access, not censoring the Internet.

The San José Mercury News Editorial of October 24, 2007, stated it well:

A decade ago, the San José City Council wisely rejected a proposal to install filters oncomputers at city libraries to prevent viewing pornography over the Internet. Filteringwas a bad idea then, and still is. Responding to a minor nuisance at the downtown libraryby dampening the rights of inquiry and speech of all patrons at every city library is anunacceptable trade-off.

For more information on library internet censorship, please visit