Citation[edit | edit source]

Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), Title XVII of the FY2001 Labor-HHS Appropriations Act, included in the FY2001 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Pub. L. No. 106-554 (2000).

Overview[edit | edit source]

The Act requires most schools and libraries that receive federal funding through Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Museum and Library Services Act, or "E-rate" subsidies from the universal service fund, to use technology protection measures (filtering software or other technologies) to block certain websites when computers are being used by minors, and in some cases, by adults.

The Act includes the following provisions.

If a school does not comply, the Secretary of Education may withhold further funding under Title III, issue a cease and desist order, or enter into a compliance agreement. If a library does not comply, the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services has the same options. No recovery of funds is permitted in either case.
Each school, school board, or other authority responsible for administering the school, or library, shall provide reasonable public notice and hold at least one public hearing or meeting to address the proposed Internet safety policy. If a school does not meet the definition of an elementary or secondary school under ESEA, the notice and hearing may be limited to members of the public with a relationship to the school.
The certification must certify that the school or library is enforcing a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes monitoring the online activities of minors and the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any computer with Internet access that protects against access to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors, and is enforcing operation of the technology protection measure. A similar requirement is made for adult users against access to material that is obscene or child pornography. The technology protection measure may be disabled during adult use to enable access for bone fide research or other lawful purpose.
If schools and libraries do not comply, they must reimburse any funds or discounts they received during the period covered by the certification. The FCC is required to prescribe regulations to implement this section within 120 days of enactment.
  • Funding available under Title VI of ESEA or section 231 of the Library Services and Technology Act may be used to obtain necessary technology protection measures.
  • Any civil action challenging the constitutionality, on its face, of the Act would be heard first by a district court of three judges convened pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §2284. Appellate review would be by direct appeal to the Supreme Court.

Constitutional challenge[edit | edit source]

In United States v. American Library Association, a three-judge federal district unanimously declared CIPA unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement insofar as it applies to libraries.[2] In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the district court, finding CIPA constitutional.[3]

A plurality opinion acknowledged "the tendency of filtering software to 'overblock' — that is, to erroneously block access to constitutionally protected speech that falls outside the categories that software users intend to block." It found, however, that, "[a]ssuming that such erroneous blocking presents constitutional difficulties, any such concerns are dispelled by the ease with which patrons may have the filtering software disabled." The plurality also found that CIPA does not deny a benefit to libraries that do not agree to use filters; rather, the statute "simply insist[s] that public funds be spent for the purposes for which they were authorized."

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The policy of Internet safety must include "a technology protection measure that protects against Internet access by both adults and minors to visual depictions that are: (1) obscene; (2) child pornography; or (3) with respect to use of the computers by minors, harmful to minors. In carrying out its certification responsibilities under CIPA, an entity receiving E-rate supported services must also adopt and implement, pursuant to Section 254(l) of the Act, an Internet safety policy addressing: (i) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web; (ii) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; (iii) unauthorized access, including so-called "hacking," and other unlawful activities by minors online; (iv) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (v) measures designed to restrict minorsaccess to materials harmful to minors. 47 U.S.C. §254(l).
  2. 201 F.Supp.2d 401 (E.D. Pa. 2002) (full-text).
  3. 539 U.S. 194 (2003) (full-text).

External resource[edit | edit source]

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