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.
- Funds made available to schools under Title III of ESEA, and funds made available to libraries under section 224 of the Museum and Library Services Act, to schools or libraries that do not receive E-rate funds, may not be used to purchase computers used to access the Internet or to pay for direct costs of accessing the Internet, unless the school, school board, local educational agency, or other authority, or library, has an Internet safety policy for minors that includes the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors. A similar requirement is made to protect against access by other users to visual depictions that are obscene or are child pornography. The technology protection measure may be disabled by an administrator, supervisor, or other authorized person to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purposes.
- 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.
- Elementary and secondary schools and libraries that receive E-rate funding must be certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that they have adopted and implemented an Internet safety policy for computers with Internet access and are using those computers in accordance with the certifications. This requirement does not apply to schools and libraries that receive E-rate funds only for purposes other than the provision of Internet access, Internet service, or internal connections.
- 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.
- Each school or library receiving E-rate funds shall adopt and implement an Internet safety policy that addresses access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web, the safety and security of minors when using e-mail, chatrooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; unauthorized access and other unlawful activities by minors online; unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal identification information regarding minors; and measures designed to restrict minors' access to materials harmful to minors, and provide reasonable public notice and hold at least one public hearing or meeting to address the proposal Internet safety policy. Determining what is inappropriate for minors shall be made locally." The FCC shall prescribe regulations for purposes of this section no later than 120 days after the date of enactment.
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. In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the district court, finding CIPA constitutional.
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]
- 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 minors’ access to materials harmful to minors. 47 U.S.C. §254(l).
- 201 F.Supp.2d 401 (E.D. Pa. 2002) (full-text).
- 539 U.S. 194 (2003) (full-text).