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Library won't face porn charges

A campaign to censor Net access at the Gilroy, California, Public Library proves short-lived.

Two antiporn activists lost their short-lived campaign to censor Net access at a public library in Northern California today after a county prosecutor said they had no case.

Sandi Zappa and Matthew Drummond filed a complaint Tuesday charging the Gilroy Public Library with exposing minors to pornography. But Karyn Sinunu, assistant district attorney of Santa Clara County, said she will not file charges because no children were identified.

The conflict in the town of Gilroy is the latest in a series of controversies over unfiltered Net access in public libraries across the country. The complaint comes in the wake of the Gilroy Library Commission's vote earlier this month to let children surf the Net without barriers, leaving supervision up to parents.

"It's really just like electronic bookburning,"said David Sobel, legal counsel to the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "If people have determined that they don't like the library's policies, maybe they should not let their kids go to library without their permission."

After flagging down a patrol officer and leading him to a library computer, the activists downloaded pictures from the Net containing what Sinunu described as "obscene adult pornography."

The officer gave printed copies of the pictures to the district attorney's office for review under a state law that prohibits "knowingly" distributing harmful material to minors.

But Sinunu said she has no suspect and no victims, as the activists wouldn't identify which children had seen the pictures. "There is no evidence that anyone at that library was distributing this material to children," she said. This was the first such complaint Sinunu has received.