By TNPO and Erich Van Dussen
Members of the Penfield Democratic Committee were recently troubled to discover that access to at least four Democratic websites- representing the people of Penfield, Perinton, Pittsford, and Webster- had been blocked on the Wi-Fi network of the Penfield Library and Community Center. The towns’ Republican sites remained accessible. The cause has been attributed to technology errors, though it is natural to speculate as to the coincidence of only Democratic information being withheld. Regardless, we appreciate the prompt action that led to this content once again being made available, following media inquiries.
The email response below from Bernadette Brinkman, director at the Library, explains the technical errors:
“Penfield Public Library has never, and would not, deliberately block sites of this kind. Our wi-fi is filtered, as required by law, and sometimes sites are blocked incorrectly due to items on those sites that the filtering software interprets incorrectly. When occurrences like this are brought to our attention, we remedy them. When we were made aware of this, we immediately looked into it to see if we needed to instruct our filtering software to allow those sites through. Unfortunately, the patron that brought this to our attention refused to provide a name or contact information for us to be able to report on our findings. Here is what we found. The patron was attempting to bring up the Penfield Democratic Committee website with an incorrect URL. The patron was using penfielddemocrats.com. The correct URL is www.penfielddemocrats.org. The leading www is necessary to retrieve the site. In the case of the Perinton and Pittsford Democratic Committee websites, their security certificates were discovered to be invalid. That is a red flag to our filtering software, and it blocked the site from retrieval.”
-Bernadette Brinkman, Penfield Public Library Director
As of Thursday afternoon on September 21, 2017, all four websites for the Democratic committees of the towns Penfield, Perinton, Pittsford, and Webster were accessible from computers at the Penfield Public Library.
This incident would be equally alarming if the sites were Republican. The free exchange of all ideas is essential to a library’s promise to its community. The next time you visit your library, check to ensure that appropriate information is freely accessible, and speak up if it’s not. You will be doing your community a great service.