So, this may be a little morbid (however, my undergrad was in Criminal Justice and Public Policy, so it seems “normal” to me), but my interest in research mainly surrounds censorship issues and intellectual freedom (most particularly illegal crimes, such as child pornography) in public libraries.
Child pornography has become an increasing issue within the policy community with regard to public spaces, such as libraries, not taking the necessary precautions in order to prevent the viewing of such material. Awareness and recognition of the problems of child pornography has grown enormously over the past two decades amongst both the government and the policy community. Many things drive concern over child pornography, but the principal factor for most people concerned about this area relates to child protection. With the introduction of new technologies, demonstrating an interest in child pornography has moved from expensive magazines and videos, to free downloads from the Internet. The use of new technologies such as the Internet has created unique challenges and problems: computer pornography is an increasing concern, especially because dissemination of such material cannot generally be controlled. There are also issues regarding the potential liability of the owners or managers of computer networks, such as universities. Although criminal charges have been laid regarding the distribution or possession of pornography on the Internet, to date there has been little judicial guidance on the issues involved. As well, recent media attention has been shed on the use of public libraries for child pornography. Popular editorial headlines that read, “City Library Becoming a Porn Palace,” “Caution: XXX Sites at Your Library,” “Porn Raises Library Board’s Profile,” “Protecting Youth Trumps the Right to Porn,” “Trustees Defy Library Chief’s Order to Keep Quiet on Porn Issue,” “Keep Library Porn Free.” The library’s ordeal began in early February of 2004, when the board came under strain to install software on all public access Internet terminals that filtered out unwanted materials. This issue had arisen out of complaints by parents who claimed their child had been exposed to unwanted material within the library.
Activists have also voiced their concerns over access to child pornography websites at the library. Councillor Al Maghnieh of Windsor, chair of the library board of directors, states that “the library is a place family, seniors and kids use, encouraging teen zones and after school activities. It’s just not the type of stuff we want in this place, this is a place for social literacy, advancing yourself and being part of the community.” Many Canadians have been led to wonder if government regulation is needed for child pornography in public libraries.
Ultimately my research question would be: How large of an issue is child pornography in the scope of public libraries? In addition, what steps can the government (as well as the community) take to mend this problem?
So, that’s my thoughts on that. I am extremely interested in ones rights and freedoms, therefore, as Luker stated: “write about what question concerning the research world you would like to investigate if you were absolutely guaranteed you would not fail. Be as ambitious and wide-ranging in your thinking as you want,” I can see why this research question would be extremely ambitious, but if I were guaranteed to not fail, this is what I would focus on!