Update: Only child pornography is blocked out by Ottawa library filters

March 09, 2015
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By Lea Z. Singh |

I just received a link to this 2013 article from Ottawa Community News, and it helps clarify a lot. According to that article, in 2013 the Ottawa Public Library moved for the first time to install pornography filters. (Perhaps they are indeed, as was told to the CFRA reporter, the "best in the country"). BUT - these filters are only being used to filter out illegal pornography - which means, only child pornography:
The Ottawa Public Library already filters content viewed by children by using their library cards to block sexual, hateful, violent or gambling-related content, said Jennifer Stirling, the library's manager of technology and innovation.
Now, the library is in the process of acquiring software that will prevent child pornography from being viewed on any library computer throughout the city.
The filter will extend to the library's Wi-Fi network so the illegal material can't be viewed on people's laptops or other devices.
...The filter will only prevent the viewing of illegal child pornography - not legal porn.
I also learned something else. My own city councillor, Jan Harder, was the chairperson of the library board in 2013!

So, I am mailing her a letter about my outrage, but unbeknownst to me, she was the one who set this whole system up two years ago. Wow. How is that for "falling on deaf ears"!

Back in 2013, Coun. Harder offered this lame excuse for why pornography should not be blocked out by the library's new state-of-the-art filters:
The issue is complicated because everyone's definition of inappropriate material is different, Harder said. Some people could consider images of breastfeeding to be inappropriate or pornographic, she said.
Come on, Ms. Harder!!! Are you kidding me? So we can't block disgusting, violent, and/or extremely disturbing pornographic images because of breastfeeding?

This is just unbelievable. What stings the most is that Jan Harder is a woman. Yet here she is, pushing for the free availability of pornography in public libraries. The same pornography that, while technically legal, often uses sexually trafficked women. Misogynist pornography that, while it may be legal, has been shown to fuel rape. Pornography that entangles and poisons the minds of children as much as adults.

What's more, Jan Harder is a mother. She has a daughter. Why is she doing this???

I didn't know much about my councillor until this article. I voted for her in the past. Well, no more. I am thoroughly disillusioned and very upset. I feel betrayed by her as my city representative, as a woman, and as a mother.

The other person quoted in the 2013 article is also a woman: Jennifer Stirling, the library's manager of technology and innovation. She was responsible for putting the filter in place. How pathetically sad that women are doing this to other women.

It's also regrettable that back in 2013, this issue seems to have made only the community news.

After reading this article, I feel more committed than ever to this cause. I'm curious to see if I will get an opportunity to discuss this with Jan Harder in person.


Below are all my posts on this topic. The most recent are listed first:

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