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Yemelyan Rybakov
Yemelyan Rybakov

Unblock Proxy Xxx !!INSTALL!!


In an effort to avoid the potentially fatal legal implications of the overblocking problem, the government falls back on the ability of the libraries, under CIPA's disabling provisions, see CIPA ß 1712 (codified at 20 U.S.C. ß 9134(f)(3)), CIPA ß1721(b) (codified at 47 U.S.C. ß 254(h)(6)(D)), to unblock a site that is patently proper yet improperly blocked. The evidence reflects that libraries can and do unblock the filters when a patron so requests. But it also reflects that requiring library patrons to ask for a Web site to be unblocked will deter many patrons because they are embarrassed, or desire to protect their privacy or remain anonymous. Moreover, the unblocking may take days, and may be unavailable, especially in branch libraries, which are often less well staffed than main libraries. Accordingly, CIPA's disabling provisions do not cure the constitutional deficiencies in public libraries' use of Internet filters.




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The librarians who testified at trial whose libraries use Internet filtering software all provide methods by which their patrons may ask the library to unblock specific Web sites or pages. Of these, only the Tacoma Public Library allows patrons to request that a URL be unblocked without providing any identifying information; Tacoma allows patrons to request a URL by sending an email from the Internet terminal that the patron is using that does not contain a return email address for the user. David Biek, the head librarian at the Tacoma Library's main branch, testified at trial that the library keeps records that would enable it to know which patrons made unblocking requests, but does not use that information to connect users with their requests. Biek also testified that he periodically scans the library's Internet use logs to search for: (1) URLs that were erroneously blocked, so that he may unblock them; or (2) URLs that should have been blocked, but were not, in order to add them to a blocked category list. In the course of scanning the use logs, Biek has also found what looked like attempts to access child pornography. In two cases, he communicated his findings to law enforcement and turned over the logs in response to a subpoena.


At all events, it takes time for librarians to make decisions about whether to honor patrons' requests to unblock Web pages. In the libraries proffered by the defendants, unblocking decisions sometimes take between 24 hours and a week. Moreover, none of these libraries allows unrestricted access to the Internet pending a determination of the validity of a Web site blocked by the blocking programs. A few of the defendants' proffered libraries represented that individual librarians would have the discretion to allow a patron to have full Internet access on a staff computer upon request, but none claimed that allowing such access was mandatory, and patron access is supervised in every instance. None of these libraries makes differential unblocking decisions based on the patrons' age. Unblocking decisions are usually made identically for adults and minors. Unblocking decisions even for adults are usually based on suitability of the Web site for minors.


It is apparent that many patrons are reluctant or unwilling to ask librarians to unblock Web pages or sites that contain only materials that might be deemed personal or embarrassing, even if they are not sexually explicit or pornographic. We credit the testimony of Emmalyn Rood, discussed above, that she would have been unwilling as a young teen to ask a librarian to disable filtering software so that she could view materials concerning gay and lesbian issues. We also credit the testimony of Mark Brown, who stated that he would have been too embarrassed to ask a librarian to disable filtering software if it had impeded his ability to research treatments and cosmetic surgery options for his mother when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.


The pattern of patron requests to unblock specific URLs in the various libraries involved in this case also confirms our finding that patrons are largely unwilling to make unblocking requests unless they are permitted to do so anonymously. For example, the Fulton County Library receives only about 6 unblocking requests each year, the Greenville Public Library has received only 28 unblocking requests since August 21, 2000, and the Westerville, Ohio Library has received fewer than 10 unblocking requests since 1999. In light of the fact that a substantial amount of overblocking occurs in these very libraries, see infra Subsection II.E.4, we find that the lack of unblocking requests in these libraries does not reflect the effectiveness of the filters, but rather reflects patrons' reluctance to ask librarians to unblock sites.


Some sites on the Web serve as a proxy or intermediary between a user and another Web page. When using a proxy server, a user does not access the page from its original URL, but rather from the URL of the proxy server. One type of proxy service is an "anonymizer." Users may access Web sites indirectly via an anonymizer when they do not want the Web site they are visiting to be able to determine the IP address from which they are accessing the site, or to leave "cookies" on their browser.(8) Some proxy servers can be used to attempt to translate Web page content from one language to another. Rather than directly accessing the original Web page in its original language, users can instead indirectly access the page via a proxy server offering translation features.


Taking the list of more than 500,000 URLs that he had compiled, Edelman used an automated system that he had developed to test whether particular URLs were blocked by each of the four filtering programs. This testing took place between February and October 2001. He recorded the specific dates on which particular sites were blocked by particular programs, and, using commercial archiving software, archived the contents of the home page of the blocked Web sites (and in some instances the pages linked to from the home page) as it existed when it was blocked.(15) Through this process, Edelman, whose testimony we credit, compiled a list of 6,777 URLs that were blocked by one or more of the four programs. Because these sites were chosen from categories from the Yahoo directory that were unrelated to the filtering categories that were enabled during the test (i.e., "Government" vs. "Nudity"), he reasoned that they were likely erroneously blocked. As explained in the margin, Edelman repeated his testing and discovered that Cyber Patrol had unblocked most of the pages on the list of 6,777 after he had published the list on his Web site. His records indicate that an employee of SurfControl (the company that produces Cyber Patrol software) accessed his site and presumably checked out the URLs on the list, thus confirming Edelman's judgment that the majority of URLs on the list were erroneously blocked.(16)


That library patrons will be deterred from asking permission to access Web sites containing certain kinds of content is evident as a matter of common sense as well as amply borne out by the trial record. Plaintiff Emmalyn Rood, who used the Internet at a public library to research information relating to her sexual identity, testified that she would have been unwilling as a young teen to ask a librarian to disable filtering software so that she could view materials concerning gay and lesbian issues.(34) Similarly, plaintiff Mark Brown stated that he would have been too embarrassed to ask a librarian to disable filtering software if it had impeded his ability to research surgery options for his mother when she was treated for breast cancer.(35) As explained in our findings of fact, see supra at Subsection II.D.2.b, the reluctance of patrons to request permission to access Web sites that were erroneously blocked is further established by the low number of patron unblocking requests, relative to the number of erroneously blocked Web sites, in those public libraries that use software filters and permit patrons to request access to incorrectly blocked Web sites. Cf. Fabulous Assocs., 896 F.2d at 786 ("On the record before us, there is more than enough evidence to support the district court's finding that access codes will chill the exercise of some users' right to hear protected communications.").


To be sure, the government demonstrated that it is possible for libraries to permit patrons to request anonymously that a particular Web site be unblocked. In particular, the Tacoma Public Library has configured its computers to present patrons with the option, each time the software filter blocks their access to a Web page, of sending an anonymous email to library staff requesting that the page be unblocked. Moreover, a library staff member periodically scans logs of URLs blocked by the filters, in an effort to identify erroneously blocked sites, which the library will subsequently unblock. Although a public library's ability to permit anonymous unblocking requests addresses the deterrent effect of requiring patrons to identify themselves before gaining access to a particular Web site, we believe that it fails adequately to address the overblocking problem.


In particular, even allowing anonymous requests for unblocking burdens patrons' access to speech, since such requests cannot immediately be acted on. Although the Tacoma Public Library, for example, attempts to review requests for unblocking within 24 hours, requests sometimes are not reviewed for several days. And delays are inevitable in libraries with branches that lack the staff necessary immediately to review patron unblocking requests. Because many Internet users "surf" the Web, visiting hundreds of Web sites in a single session and spending only a short period of time viewing many of the sites, the requirement that a patron take the time to affirmatively request access to a blocked Web site and then wait several days until the site is unblocked will, as a practical matter, impose a significant burden on library patrons' use of the Internet. Indeed, a patron's time spent requesting access to an erroneously blocked Web site and checking to determine whether access was eventually granted is likely to exceed the amount of time the patron would have actually spent viewing the site, had the site not been erroneously blocked. This delay is especially burdensome in view of many libraries' practice of limiting their patrons to a half hour or an hour of Internet use per day, given the scarcity of terminal time in relation to patron demand. 350c69d7ab


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