Groups File Suit to Block CIPA
The American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union filed
suit March 20 to block the enforcement of the Children's Internet Protection
Act, which would require schools and libraries that receive certain kinds of
federal technology support to install a "technology protection measure."
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the groups
contended the law was unconstitutional because it would force local libraries
to restrict what patrons could choose to access. They also argued that the
law would unconstitutionally restrict the access adults, in addition to
The law, which was passed in December 2000, specifies that if a particular
section of the law is declared unconstitutional, the rest of the legislation
will not be affected. The two groups chose not to challenge the portion of
the law that applies to schools, though others may in the future. In 1997,
the Supreme Court held that a previous attempt to control obscene content,
the Communications Decency Act, was unconstitutional. Last year, a federal
appeals court struck down the Children's Online Protection Act, but the
Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to review that decision. CIPA
includes a provision for expedited review of any lawsuit challenging its
Under CIPA, schools and libraries that receive E-rate support for internal
connections and Internet access would be required to certify that they have
adopted a protection measure and prepared an "Internet safety policy" that
addresses a number of issues. Schools that receive funding under Title III of
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for Internet access and
Internet-accessible computers and libraries that receive similar support
under the Library Services and Technology Act, would be subject to similar,
but not identical requirements.
By April 20, the Federal Communications Commission is supposed to issue
regulations for implementing the E-rate portion of the law. Under a proposal
released in January, the FCC would begin enforcing the law during the E-rate
program's fourth funding year, but program participants would be able to
certify that they were working toward compliance during the law's first year.
The Education Department has not yet released the regulations that would
apply to its programs.
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