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Promoting Online Safety: The Home-School Partnership


Brought to you by CoSN


NTIA Recommends Broader Definition of "Technology Protection Measure"

In a study mandated by the Children's Internet Protection Act, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration recommends that the law's definition of "technology protection measure" be expanded to include more than just blocking and filtering technologies.

NTIA said that an expanded definition would "encompass a vast array of current technological measures that protect children from inappropriate content." NTIA suggested that the language of the law be changed to read, “The term ‘technology protection measure’ means a specific technology that prevents Internet access to visual depictions” that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors, as stipulated in the law. Alternatively, it recommended that the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Education provide further guidance to the recipients of E-rate and other technology funding on their interpretation of the law.

NTIA also called on technology vendors to offer training services to institutions on the specific features of their products. It said it found a “disconnect” because some commenters expressed a desire for certain technological capabilities that vendors reported they were already providing.

The Consortium for School Networking and its Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse project submitted comments to NTIA a year ago to help guide the agency in the preparation of its report. The report cited a survey CoSN did of its members’ experiences with managing online safety. It also cited CoSN’s June 2001 “Safeguarding the Wired Schoolhouse” report as a source of guidance to educators on how to use the Internet safely and to promote information literacy.

In the report, NTIA noted that “Even the most sophisticated and current technology tools are not one hundred percent effective.” It added, “Based on the comments, existing technology protection measures are helping to meet the concerns of educational institutions to protect children from inappropriate materials they may encounter while using the Internet. The occurrence of overblocking and underblocking, however, has resulted in some dissatisfaction and frustration by users with the existing technology protection measures.”

The NTIA report also outlined what it viewed as “best practices” in implementing Internet safety policies, including acceptable use policies, child media literacy, parental education and awareness, staff education and development, identification of appropriate content and designation of child-safe areas.

The text of the full report can be reviewed at www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/ntiageneral/cipa2003/CIPAreport_08142003.htm.

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