Library Internet policies change

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2005

A northern Virginia teenager threatened President George W. Bush, using e-mail from his local public library.

Investigations have shown that terrorists who organized the World Trade Center bombings used the Internet at their local libraries to research their plans.

&uot;The library used to be considered a safe haven,&uot; said Elliott Drew, director of Suffolk Public Libraries. &uot;But times have changed, especially since 911.&uot;


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The Suffolk City Council is taking steps to protect cyber users of the city’s public library system. At its last meeting, the council unanimously adopted an updated Internet policy.

Internet users were able to just come into the library and go on line, Drew said.

The new policy will enable the library to track who is using the Internet and what web sites are visited, he said.

&uot;This is not something we necessarily want to do,&uot; Drew said. &uot;But this is a public machine and a city service…and we have to be protective of the patrons who use the library.&uot;

The new policy calls for :

-Internet users to be 18 or older or accompanied by an adult.

-Users are limited to one hour of Internet use per day.

-Users must have a library card. Anyone from outside the area will have to give library officials their driver’s license or other photo identification while using the computer.

Drew’s biggest concern about library Internet abuse is the risk of personal information, such as Social Security numbers, being accessed illegally.

Although Suffolk hasn’t had any problems, there have been instances nationwide where people have installed programs on public computers that allow hackers to download the personal information of other users through the hacker’s home computer, Drew said. Internet data will now flow through a city filter equipped to prevent such an incident from happening, he said.

In coming months, the downtown library will be equipped for wi-fi, Drew said. That will allow people with laptops equipped for wireless service to go to online at the library using their personal computers.

Eventually, wi-fi service will be extended to the city’s other libraries, he added.

&uot;We’re going to test it here,&uot; Drew said. &uot;But eventually it will be available at all the branches.&uot;