Controversial internet bill stalls in committee

A South Carolina Senate bill that would have held the state’s public libraries criminally liable for allowing children to view smut on the internet has stalled. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee decided to not deal with the bill after a public hearing in early March.

“I’m confident it [the bill] won’t go anywhere,” said Jim Johnson, director of the South Carolina State Library.

A second bill that would have required that all libraries install internet filtering software was revised to require libraries to have an internet policy designed to hinder people from using the internet for obscenity. “I don’t think it’s appropriate for anybody to set library policies other than a county’s local library board,” Johnson said. “It would be the same thing if the state told the library what books to buy.”

Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, wanted to take away the immunity public libraries have under a 1991 state law that forbids giving minors access to pornography.

Greenville County residents had accused the public library of giving internet surfers free rein of pornographic web sites, including one man who was a convicted sex offender.

Fair’s proposal singled out public libraries. It did not take away immunity given to schools or other organizations.

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