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Congress Passes New Federal Filtering Requirements

Congress has passed the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Neighborhood Protection Act. Almost identical, these acts require that schools and libraries receiving e-rate, TLCF and/or LSTA funds have a policy of Internet safety in place. This policy must include a "technology protection measure" with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that guards against visual depictions that are obscene, child-pornographic or harmful to minors. The act defines a "technology protection measure" as a specific technology that blocks or filters Internet access to the aforementioned material. The specific difference between the two acts is that the Neighborhood Act states that the Internet safety policy must also address e-mail, chat rooms, hacking, unauthorized disclosure, and use or dissemination of personal information concerning minors. The Neighborhood Act also requires a public hearing or meeting about the proposed Internet policy.

Schools and libraries that currently meet these standards must self-certify that they have a system in place. Every year, schools and libraries will re-certify their continuing compliance with the legislation. Schools and libraries that do not currently meet these standards must comply with the requirements by July 2002. If these schools and libraries do not comply by this date, e-rate funds will not be disbursed. At this moment, the act d'es not allow e-rate funds to be used for the purpose of acquiring "technology protection measures." For a copy of the CIPA law, visit www.ala.org/cipa/Law.PDF.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2001 issue of THE Journal.

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