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Church State Issues

New Arizona obscenity law mixes religion and government

Jun 24, 2012

Arizona Republic

Big Brother knows what internet sites you can and can't visit!!!

Rep. Steve Court of Mesa is the government ruler who flushed the 1st Amendment down the toilet and passed this repressive law.

New Arizona obscenity law cracks down on schools, libraries

Schools, libraries must have strict policy on filtering online content

by Lindsey Erdody - Jun. 23, 2012 07:38 PM

The Republic |

School and public libraries in Arizona have been filtering online content for years to protect minors from accessing obscene materials on their computers.

A new state law, which goes into effect Aug. 1, establishes significant consequences for those entities that don't have a strict policy against such materials.

House Bill 2712 specifies the types of material the schools and libraries must block and includes a tough penalty -- the state can withhold 10 percent of its funding if the school or library doesn't comply.

The new law has several requirements: Schools and libraries must filter and block questionable websites from minors and the general public; they must establish a policy to enforce the ban on these materials; and they have to make the rules available to the public.

If an adult needs to access blocked material, the library may lift the filter if it is for research purposes. Other states, such as Washington, don't allow temporary lifts for material such as porn. The American Civil Liberties Union brought attention to this in February, saying the law is too strict.

Rep. Steve Court of Mesa, Arizona authored the Arizona Internet Thought Police Act Rep. Steve Court, R-Mesa, who sponsored the bill, said he pushed for the funding penalties to give schools and libraries more incentive to have strict filters in place. If a school or library is notified that it is not in compliance, it has 60 days to change the policy. After that, the state can withhold up to 10 percent of funding until the entity resolves the problem.

The law previously required schools and libraries to prevent minors from "harmful material" on the Internet. Now, it specifies that it must block minors from gaining access to "visual depictions that are child pornography, harmful to minors or obscene."

"It just makes it a little more clear and a little more stringent," Court said.

Jeremy Giegle, president of Arizona Family Council, lobbied for the bill, which modifies a law originally written more than 10 years ago.

"There's been a lot of changes since then so we wanted to get the bill up to date," Giegle said. "If the schools are going to have more and more technology, how are we going to keep our kids safe?"

Chris Kotterman, deputy director of policy development and government relations for the Arizona Department of Education, said most schools seem to follow the policy already, but it could still have an impact in terms of funding.

"That's a pretty significant penalty if you don't comply for a long period of time," Kotterman said.

Craig Pletenik, spokesman for Phoenix Union High School District, said he's not worried about losing funding. He said the district was already in the process of reviewing its policy, and its computer system updates the filters constantly for potentially harmful websites.

He said the district has been following the Federal Communications Commission's Child Internet Protection Act since it was created in 2001. The act requires schools and libraries to block or filter any content that is obscene, child pornography or harmful to minors in order to receive certain federal funding.

"I just don't know that (the new state law) applies to us because we've already been following these rules," he said. "It's just part of that whole trend of trying to protect our kids, really everybody, but especially our kids from all the garbage out there."

Kathleen Sullivan, collection development coordinator for the Phoenix Public Library, said the library also has been operating under CIPA. They work with an outside company, Websense, to block harmful sites, and all computer users must agree to the policy before logging on.

"There really isn't anything they need to do to comply with the law because they already are," Sullivan said.

Complain about this violation of Church & State to:

Rep. Steve Court of Mesa, Arizona authored the Arizona Internet Thought Police Act

Steve Court
District 18
House of Representatives
1700 W. Washington
Room 206
Phoenix, AZ 85007
(602)417-3018 Fax