University Task Force Opposes Porn Filters

Jeff Berg
AUSTIN, Texas – A University of Texas System task force submitted recommendations opposing the use of pornography filtering technology to the school system’s chancellor this week, according to a statement released on the UT System’s website.

Noting that, “[T]he pursuit of knowledge is an indispensable component of higher education,” the Electronic Media Standards Task Force recommended that university policies be revised to more closely follow state law and that strong leadership be used to deal with improper computer usage instead of a filtering system.

“Pornography is not illegal,” Mike Godfrey, general counsel for the UT System and head of the task force, told Daily Texan reporters. “We should not be making moral judgments based on its use.”

The task force expressed concern that automatic filtering systems may deny students and faculty access to valuable information.

“People do study pornography for academic purposes,” Godfrey said.

The report also recommended the UT System emphasize that use of university computers is limited to tasks related to the university’s mission or personal activities that don’t have a cost associated with them.

Illegal and commercial activities, as well as creating a hostile work environment, would still be prohibited by the task force’s recommendations.

Other suggestions included replacing all mention of “pornographic material” with “obscene material,” creating a graduated penalty process for infractions of university policy, and carefully explaining examples of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

The task force was appointed by Chancellor Mark Yudof after 10 Health Science Center employees were investigated for looking at pornography while on the job last year.

The report has been posted on the UT System website in order to solicit comments before the chancellor announces his decision on Oct. 15.