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Library Board Considering Strengthened Internet Policies

City of San Antonio

The San Antonio Public Library could be tightening up its internet security measures to keep kids from seeing something they shouldn't online.

Currently, there are no filters installed on computers located at branch libraries or the central library downtown, according to the library’s community and public relations manager, Caitlin Cowart.

Instead, users must click an agreement before surfing the internet that outlines terms of use, said Cowart. Additionally, Cowart said staff members monitor users in the open spaces where computers are.

Library board chair Jean Brady said people mostly behave themselves.

"We get a public information request on occasion about what people are using our computers for and it's very, very low in terms of anything that would be detrimental to people so we think the staff and the system works," she said.

Federal protection is in place to help keep the content safe for internet pages that children access. In 2000, Congress passed the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). If San Antonio complies with CIPA, then it will receive significant rebates and discounts back from the federal government.

While Brady agreed the current system works, the city’s involvement with CIPA will provide better coverage.

"This is a further way to protect people," Brady said.

Brady said the board talked about the issue, but plans to discuss the policy further before a decision is made.

District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg sent a news release to advocate for the increased protection.

"I believe that the implementation of these measures is necessary to protect young public library patrons and that achieving CIPA compliance is in the best interest of the citizens of San Antonio," Nirenberg said in a statement.

It was cyber security specialist and former councilwoman Leticia Ozuna who initially brought the topic to the board.

In its initial conversation, Brady said no one from the community came to talk about the possible policy change. A board meeting later this month may address the topic again before any action is taken.