Oppose Mandatory Statewide Public Library Filtering Legislation

February 23, 2015
Rep. Peter Breen (R-48th District, Lombard) has introduced House Bill 2689 to create the Internet Screening in Public Libraries Act, requiring each public library to have a "technology protection measure" to prevent the display on a public computer of any visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors. It allows a public library to disable the technology protection measure for an adult engaged in legitimate research, but that term is completely undefined.  Requires the State Librarian to adopt rules to implement and administer the Act.  Amends the State Finance Act to create the Internet Screening in Public Libraries Fund for the purpose of imposing fines under the Act.  Finally, it amends the State Mandates Act to require implementation without any reimbursement for the cost of filtering. 

The ILA position on filtering is that this is a local decision, a position the Illinois General Assembly has adopted in defeating many previous attempts to establish statewide filtering.  Contact your elected official in the Illinois General Assembly and urge them to oppose this latest attempt to force a filtering mandate on all public libraries.  If you live or work in or near Representative Breen's district it is critically important that he hear from you personally!

Talking Points

ILA supports local control.  Local officials -- library trustees, librarians, and other professional library staff -- are the most qualified to decide how Internet access should be provided to their patrons.  House Bill 2689 overrules all local decisions and imposes a "one size fits all" approach.  It is especially important that school and public libraries that have installed filters call. While this bill would not impact your operations, please state your opposition to the bill and stress the importance of local control!

Filters Hurt Libraries 
This legislation is an unfunded mandate that overrides local control.


Filters Don't Work
Study after study have demonstrated that filters consistently block important information on science, health, political, and social issues and regularly allow objectionable material to get through.  This creates new liability for libraries.

Filters are Expensive
Paying for filters diverts scarce resources from limited technology budgets -- money that could go to buying more computers, and paying for more reliable and faster Internet access.

Filters are Inflexible
Filters don't know if the person using the computer is 5, 21, or 65.  This "one size fits all" approach treats adults, even senior citizens, like elementary school children.  The user doesn't even know what they are being prevented from accessing.  We can't expect patrons to ask to unblock computers when they don't know what that particular filter has blocked.    


Filters are Biased
Private companies and groups with commercial, political, or religious agendas design filters to block what THEY find objectionable, including political candidates, social causes, basic health information, and even information on their own product's faults.

Filters Hurt the Poor
Less-wealthy communities are the most in need of technology because more of their patrons lack these resources at home.  This legislation forces less-affluent areas to choose between filling this need or spending money just to block access.

Finally, the Illinois library community has been a leader in promoting Internet safety and supports all efforts particularly funded efforts in promoting Internet safety.

Start calling now. 

iREAD Summer Reading Programs

Since 1981, iREAD provides high quality, low-cost resources and products that enable local library staff to motivate children, young adults, and adults to read.

Visit the iREAD website »