EBSCO blocked as resource for Utah students

Lindsay Cook, Reporter

EBSCO, Elton B. Stephens Co., is an international research database which the Utah state legislature has previously funded to provide access to Utah students for research purposes. However, EBSCO has been removed from the Utah Online Library and is unavailable to students in Utah unless they have their own personal account. The ban follows a complaint from an anonymous mother from Toole who discovered “pornographic” images from the EBSCO database after a 45-minute search. Details on what these images contained were not expounded upon, and attempts by the Utah Education Network to replicate her results were unsuccessful.
The Utah State School Board has voted to restore access to EBSCO as early as Oct. 19th, noting that school filtering software would prevent students from being able to view the images the mother had access to at home.
EBSCO has frequently been opposed by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), an American nonprofit organization which has placed EBSCO on their “Dirty Dozen” list, which is a list of large corporations or influential entities which the Center claims to perpetuate sexual exploitation– including Amazon, Google, Snapchat, and iBooks. According to NCOSE, EBSCO is on this list because it “continues to expose minors to sexually graphic and violent content including live links to pornography websites.” (NCOSE)
EBSCO is one of the few research resources available to Utah students which provides full-text articles without add-on fees. Logan Walker, a senior student that has used EBSCO for a final AP project, says that with the blocking of EBSCO “students that are taking research courses will have much less material to work with with the majority of research hubs restricting access to paid memberships […] which will then only allow students to have the opportunity to buy the article they want for a price higher than the original membership fee […] these articles can range from $20 to over $2000+.”
Walker adds, “Who would even search that [pornography] on EBSCO? […] I would be more worried about a student searching up suicide stuff than pornography.”
Opposition to EBSCO is not a new occurrence; many parent activist groups in Colorado have attempted to block it from school servers for years. Teachers and members of library coalitions (in several states), however, fear that the censoring of information from EBSCO is not beneficial and has a “sweeping and negative impact on teachers and students across the state,” according to a Deseret News article by Marjorie Cortez published on October 4th.
Braden Hensen, another AP Research student, said: “I think that if you are adult enough to use this site then you should be adult enough to respond in an adult way to what you see.”