NYPL is one of the most accomplished public libraries, with approximately 53 million items to offer. Although you may believe that such a river of knowledge is bound to promote the freedom of thought and speech, reality is slightly different.
Basically anything you may be interested in can be found at the New York Public Library, at least on paper. When it comes to the internet, US libraries function under the regulations imposed by the Children’s Internet Protection Act, a legislation that aims to protect children from harmful online content by filtering out certain websites.
All sounds about right, but it seem that these filters are also blocking The Pirate Bay and, surprisingly enough, Torrent Freak. The library’s obvious reason to block TPB is due to some of its adult-oriented ads, but fact is that the torrent portal entered NYPL’s blacklist because it falls under the “peer-to-peer file-sharing” category.
Unfortunately, TPB and Torrent Freak are not the sole victims. NYPL also blocks access to RuTracker, Kat.ph (formerly known as KickAssTorrents), and What.cd. Furthermore, BitTorrent clients (uTorrent, Vuze, and Transmission) are also filtered out.
As far as Torrent Freak is concerned, a New York Public Library spokesperson said that:
“In an effort to protect patrons from inappropriate content or malicious activity and comply with existing laws, NYPL uses filtering software to prevent access to identified websites that offer potentially illegal or malicious content, as well as those that may cause harm to Library technology.”
While the library’s administration acknowledges that its filters may overstep some boundaries, it also highlights that its users can ask for a revaluation of the blocked website by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to TorrentFreak, the NYPL is yet to decide whether TF remains blocked or not.