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Promoting Online Safety: The Home-School Partnership

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Supreme Court Hears CIPA Arguments

The American Library Association went before the U.S. Supreme Court on March 5 to argue that the Children's Internet Protection Act is an unconstitutional restriction on the free speech rights of library patrons. The High Court case stems from a decision last May by a special three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, which found that CIPA was unconstitutional as it pertained to libraries. The ALA, with the strong support of the American Civil Liberties Union, maintains that CIPA is seriously flawed because "the mandated use of blocking technology on all library computers inevitably results in limiting access to substantial amounts of constitutionally protected speech."

The ALA argued that while Congress yearns for a "silver bullet" to protect children from unsavory online content, "Congress offers only a false promise of safety" with CIPA. The ACLU called the issue a "landmark case" and urged the Supreme Court to reject CIPA because it "forces libraries to censor constitutionally protected online speech by adults as well as children." The court challenge affects public libraries, but not schools or school libraries, which are also subject to compliance with CIPA. Therefore, if the portions of CIPA that apply to libraries are eventually found to be unconstitutional, it would not necessarily affect the portions that apply to schools. The ALA's most recent legal brief regarding CIPA is available at:

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