Internet Safety Policy
Revised September 8, 2008
Implemented November 1, 2008
Gwinnett County Public Library supports customers’ informational, educational, and recreational interests by providing materials in a wide range of formats including free basic access to information via the Internet. As a public information agency, Gwinnett County Public Library provides the opportunity for any citizen to use the Internet from the library's public access computers.
The Internet is an important resource enabling library users to access information beyond the system's own collection. In addition to a homepage that highlights general information about the library and links customers to Internet sites of current and ongoing interest, a children's homepage provides users with easy access to specific Internet sites that are appealing, age appropriate, and traditionally known to be reputable. Information links on the Internet change rapidly and unpredictably, so sites may become unavailable without notice. Because not all sources on the Internet provide accurate, complete, or current information, customers are advised to use information from the Internet at their own risk. The library does not warrant or guarantee the reliability or truthfulness of information obtained from the Internet. The library shall have no liability for direct, indirect, or consequential damages related to use of information accessed via the Internet from library equipment.
The Internet is an unregulated and rapidly changing medium; it is possible to intentionally or inadvertently find material that is offensive or disturbing to some users. In accordance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), all library computers are equipped with software that is designed to block access to sites that contain visual depictions and/or information which may reasonably be construed as being obscene, child pornography or materials “harmful to minors” as currently defined by law. Despite these provisions, customers may still encounter sites they find personally offensive. For this reason, customers must assume responsibility for their own use of the Internet. Parents who are concerned about the contents of the Internet are strongly advised to closely supervise their children’s use of this service and assist them in selecting sites that are consistent with personal and family values and appropriate for the age and understanding of their children. In addition, when obtaining a library card for their minor child(ren) parents MUST select one of the internet access options below.
- CIPA-Compliant Access: This is the default option, and imposes only those restrictions that are necessary in order for the library to be in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
- Education/Reference/Health: This option allows access only to the library’s catalog, subscription databases and services, including GALILEO, and SmartFilter-allowed web pages devoted to health information and academic-related content.
- Kids Sites: This option allows access only to the library’s Kids Catalog, subscription databases for kids, and other sites identified by SmartFilter as being intended for children aged 10 or younger.
- Catalog Only: This option allows access only to the database of materials purchased and cataloged by the library.
Children who do not have a card, or do not have their card with them, may be issued a single-use guest pass that will default to the Education/Reference/Health access level, which provides resources that can be used for homework assignments.
In accordance with CIPA, the library will provide access to the unfiltered internet without significant delay for bona fide research or other lawful purposes at the request of customers who are 18 years of age or older.
The library provides an administrative process by which customers may request that specific sites be blocked or unblocked. Requests by minors 17years of age or younger to unblock specific sites will be honored upon a reasonable determination by staff that the specific site does not contain inappropriate matter.If customers disagree with the staff decision regarding their request to block or unblock a specific site, they may initiate an appeal process.
Acceptable Use Rules:
1. Transmitting and/or receiving of obscene materials and/or child pornography is a violation of law and is not permitted under any circumstances.
2. A. Customers shall not use computers for any illegal activity or to access child pornography or materials that are obscene or harmful to minors.
B. Minors, whether or not accompanied by a parent or guardian, shall not use computers for any illegal activity or to access illegal materials, child pornography, obscene materials, or materials “harmful to minors” as currently defined by law.
3. Branch supervisors and library administrators are authorized to take prompt and appropriate action to address reported instances of inappropriate internet viewing. If content is displayed, the supervisor will, to the extent possible and referring to the legal definitions of “child pornography“, “obscene” and “harmful to minors,” determine whether the content appears to be illegal or otherwise prohibited under CIPA legislation. Actions may include:
- Insuring that the user has a clear understanding of the legal requirements and library expectations as to internet viewing,
- Offering a user who is 18 or older unfiltered access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes (if content is thought to meet the definition of harmful to minors),
- Advising the user to cease and desist (if content is thought to meet the definition of obscene),
- Calling the police and capturing browsing history (if content is thought to meet the definition of child pornography).
4. Installation or modification of software is prohibited. Downloading software with the intent to harm the computer or network is prohibited.
5. Users shall respect all copyright laws and licensing agreements.
6. Users shall not make any attempt to gain access to restricted computer files or networks or to damage or modify computer equipment or software.
7. Users are required to utilize all measures put in place by the library to reduce inadvertent viewing of internet content that, while legal, may be offensive to others.
8. Users shall respect the privacy of other users and shall refrain from attempting to view or read material being used by others.
9. Public library computers are neither private nor secure. Users are warned that library personnel may capture an internet session’s browsing history to aid in the investigation of a suspected crime in progress.
10.Users are financially responsible for any charges that they may incur from their use of the Internet.
11. Users should exercise extreme caution about revealing any personal identification information (such as name, address, telephone number, email, social security number, age, or credit card number.) Financial information should not be entered without verifying that the destination website provides its own security mechanism, such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encoding, usually indicated by a small lock icon displayed along the lower edge of the browser window.
12. Minors should NEVER disclose any personal identification information over the Internet.
13.Customers are not permitted access to chat rooms.
14. Parents and/or guardians are responsible for monitoring the use of email by their minor children.
1. “Minor” is a person under 18 years of age. O.C.G.A. § 16-12-102
2. “Harmful to minors” as defined in federal and/or state law 47 U.S.C.A. 254(h)(7)(G). O.C.G.A. § 16-12-100.1
3. “Obscene” is defined under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. §16-12-80.
4. “Child pornography” is defined under federal and/or state law (18 U.S.C. § 2256; O.C.G.A. § 16-12-100).
5. “Inappropriate matter” is defined as visual depictions deemed harmful to minors, child pornography, or obscene material.
Misuse of the library computers will result in the loss of computer privileges, potential loss of library privileges, and possible criminal prosecution. Such misuse includes but is not limited to using the computer for illegal activities, hacking into the library computer system or any other computer system, damaging or attempting to damage computer equipment or software, interfering with system’s operations, integrity or security, gaining unauthorized access to another person’s files, computer settings, and violating copyright laws and software licensing agreements.