Internet access still under fire for UA students
Although an Arizona state legislative bill placing limitations on state employees' Internet access was defeated yesterday, a similar bill aimed at restricting university students' World Wide Web use is still alive.
University of Arizona students could still be prohibited from having free reign on university computers, pending the vote on House bill 2024, which is still in the Government Reform and Rules committees.
Both House bill 2006, directed only to state employees, and House bill 2024, aimed at university students, attempt to implement Internet filters to prohibit users from viewing sexually explicit material. House bill 2006 was defeated Monday with a 20-32 vote in the Committee of the Whole.
Greg Fahey, UA lobbyist, said the bills - which are both sponsored by Rep. Jean McGrath, R-Glendale - pose a threat to the university's ability to use the Internet as an academic tool.
"They are both just as damaging to the free inquiry life we need at the universities," said Fahey. "We just don't think there is any problem that requires this kind of legislation,"
House bill 2024 states that computers owned or leased by the UA, Arizona State University or Northern Arizona University must be equipped with a block to prohibit students from accessing sexually graphic material.
A similar bill, House bill 2006, that would have mandated an Internet ban on sexually explicit material for state employees' computers, was killed.
House bill 2006 would have affected only UA faculty and staff using state computers, Fahey said.
Rep. Kathleen Dunbar, R-Tucson, was originally a sponsor of the House bill 2006. However, she voted no yesterday after fully viewing the bill.
"I don't think state employees need watch dogs over them," said Dunbar, adding that the measure was "pointless."
She said she thinks state employees would have been offended if the bill passed.
Rep. Mark Anderson, R-Mesa, said he voted yes for House bill 2006.
"If they are sitting around, accessing pornography, they are not doing their jobs," Anderson said.
He said he opposed state employees or university students using taxpayer-funded computers to view pornography on the Internet.
Anderson said he will vote for House bill 2024 when it comes up for debate, although he doesn't expect it to pass