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Action: Legislation and Policymaking: Blocking: United States 2000: Childrens' Internet Protection Act

Federal Blocking Legislation 2000

Status: Passed, legal challenges underway


Summary: Childrens' Internet Protection Act - Amends the Communications Act of 1934 to make an elementary school, secondary school, or library ineligible to receive or retain universal service assistance under such Act unless it certifies to the Federal Communications Commission that it has selected and installed (or will install) a technology for computers with Internet access which filters or blocks material deemed harmful to minors.

Full Text of Bill

Sponsor: Sen. John McCain

Joint Statement Opposing Legislative Requirements for School and Library Internet Blocking Technologies
Join this growing constituency of organizations and individuals who have published a joint statement in response to the US Congress' passage of legislation requiring blocking technology in all public schools and libraries participating in federal programs in order to galvanize opposition to mandatory blocking technology and to promote educational methods for youth to use the Internet safely and effectively, January 17, 2001

Media Coverage:

Internet Blocking Trial Draws to a Close
The ACLU, the American Library Association, and other organizations made the case in federal court against the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires all public schools and libraries receiving certain federal funds or grants to install Internet blocking software by July 2002, March 25 - April 4, 2002
Media coverage:
Judges End U.S. Library Porn Trial on Skeptical Note (Reuters via NY Times), Judges Iffy About Library Filtering Law (Reuters via, Judges Blast Library Filtering (Wired News), Librarian: Filters Are Fab (Wired News), A Software Program Too Far? (Dallas Fort Worth Star-Telegram), A Worthwhile Web Regulation (NY Times, may require free registration), The Evil Of Silent Censorship (LangaList), Full Assault on Filter Software (Wired News), Old Principles Guide Librarians on Net (The Oregonian), Standing Up to the Law (LA Times), Porn in the Court: Battle Rages Over Web Smut (AP via CNN), Librarians Testify in Internet Case (AP via Salon), Govt. Witnesses Wrap Up First Week Of Filtering Trial (, Librarian Testifies Against Censorship (AP via Yahoo! News), Librarians Fight Children's Internet Protection Act (Holt Uncensored), Filters for Web Work, Librarian Tells Federal Court (Philadelphia Inquirer), Feds Mount Defense of Library Porn Law (Reuters via CNN), Smut Filter Snags Non-Smut, Too (Wired News), Porn Trial Experts Say Software Block Limited (CNN), Net Filters Fail the Children (BBC News), Witnesses Advocate Unfiltered Internet (Philadelphia Inquirer), Librarians Testify against Web-Filter Requirement (Philadelphia Inquirer), Experts Lambaste Smut Filters (Reuters via Wired News), Censorship Has Worked, Library Says (Times Picayune), Book Banning in the 21st Century (AlterNet), Porn-Filter Trial Gets Raunchy (Wired News), Porn-Filter Judge Boots Public (Wired News), Internet Filtering Technology Put to Legal Test ( via Yahoo! News), Internet Porn Battle Heads for Court (CNN), Library Net Filtering Battle Heads for Court (ZDNet News), Librarians Argue against Net Filtering (Reuters via CNET, Unknown Title (Wall St. Journal, requires paid subscription), Libraries Tackle Children's Internet Protection Law (, Libraries Challenge Net Filter Requirement (LA Times), Librarians Open Case Against Internet Filtering Law (, Library Net-Filtering Study Re-Released on Eve of Trial (, Court to Hear Net Filtering Challenge (CNET, Law Limiting Internet in Libraries Challenged (NY Times, may require free registration), Librarians Fighting Internet-Filter Law (Mercury News), U.S. Library Porn Law Battle Heads for Court (Reuters)

Massachusetts Internet Filtering Technology Company Says Mandatory Filtering Laws Aren't Needed
SurfControl has issued a statement saying that Internet blocking laws are not necessary, CNET News, June 4, 2001

Some Librarians Balking at Internet Filter Mandate
Many libraries in Iowa are not happy with the prospect of blocking Internet resources from their patrons, Chicago Tribune, May 30, 2001

Libraries Win Delay in Installing Internet Filters
Public schools and libraries have until at least July 2002 to comply with a federal law requiring Internet blocking technologies in exchange for federal grants and discounts, San Francisco Chronicle, May 16, 2001
Related media coverage:
Washington Post, May 16, 2001, May 16, 2001

FilterGate, or Knowing What We're Walling In or Walling Out
A humorous and insightful essay on the problems associated with Internet blocking, MultiMedia Schools, May 1, 2001

Down by Law: New Internet Laws Will Hurt the Poorest of the Poor
An opinion piece addressing the digital divide in the light of CHIPA and other government policies, A List Apart, April 6, 2001

Lawsuits Slam Net Filtering Efforts
The American Civil Liberties Union and American Library Association filed separate suits Tuesday in a federal district court in Philadelphia challenging a new law that requires federally funded schools and libraries to install software that blocks "objectionable" online materials, CNET News, March 20, 2001
Related media coverage:
Libraries Spearhead Attack on Cyber-Porn Law Reuters
Librarians Contest Law Requiring Net Filters Mercury News,
Libraries: Filter Out Filters Wired,
Library Smut Snit Heats Up Wired,
Diverse Coalition Sues To Overturn Web-Filtering Law Newsbytes,
Daily E-Mail Alert, Tech Law Journal,
Censoring the Libraries, San Francisco Chronicle,
ALA Lawsuit Poll, Excite, March 19-23, 2001

Internet Filters Used to Shield Minors Censor Speech
In December, lawmakers passed a bill requiring federally financed schools and libraries to use a "technology protection measure" like blocking products to block Internet access to obscene material, child pornography and anything considered to be "harmful to minors", NY Times, March 19, 2001

Should the Government Require Filtering?
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have raised that question regarding the Children's Internet Protection Act (CHIPA), which became law in December 2000. The act is expected to face a court challenge, Consumer Reports, March 2001.

Another Federal Law Seeks to Limit Web Access
Despite several successful court challenges, the national effort to "protect" children from the dangers of the Internet refuses to go away, Philadelphia Gay News, March 12, 2001

American Library Association Votes to Challenge CIPA
The executive board of the American Library Association (ALA) voted yesterday to initiate legal action challenging the recently enacted Children's Internet Protection Act (CHIPA or CIPA), American Library Association, January 18, 2001

FRC Touts Passage of Children's Internet Protection Act
"Passage of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is good news for America - especially for America's children who need to be shielded from Internet smut," Family Research Council's Senior Director of Legal Studies Jan LaRue said, Family Research Council release, December 19, 2000

ACLU Promises Legal Challenge as Congress Adopts Bill Imposing Internet Blocking in Libraries
The American Civil Liberties Union said that it will soon launch a legal challenge to legislation adopted by Congress last week that would mandate the use of blocking software on computers in public libraries, ACLU release, December 18, 2000

U.S. Congress Approves Omnibus Bill with Filtering Mandate
The U.S. Congress passed legislation including "the Children's Internet Protection Act which requires schools and libraries to implement filtering technology for computers with Internet access as a condition of receiving education technology funds, library services funds, or universal service discounts. Technology purchased with educational technology or library service funds must have filters on computers accessible to minors. The conference agreement also includes the Neighborhood Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires schools or libraries with Internet access to hold public hearings and adopt Internet use policies for material inappropriate for minors," U.S. House Appropriations Committee release, December 15, 2000

Action Alert: Education Spending, with Filtering Mandates, Still in Play
By all indications, a complex Internet blocking mandate only slightly altered from earlier drafts will be included in Labor-HHS-Education (H.R. 4577), the final education spending bill to be sent to the President, American Library Association, October 30, 2000

Web Filters Proving Ineffective But Politicians Effectively Milking Them
People are so enamored of the idea behind blocking programs that some members of Congress want to force blocking products into every school and library that receives federally subsidized Internet equipment, Chicago Tribune, October 30, 2000

Library Journal logo
Filter Bill Pending As Criticism Rises
As Congress continued to negotiate on the blocking provisions in the pending appropriations bill, criticism of blocking products continued,, October 30, 2000

Christopher Hunter photo
Don't Let McCain Censor the Internet
Christopher Hunter explains why new legislation that would require the use of blocking software by public libraries is unnecessary and unconstitutional, Salon, October 25, 2000

Library Journal logo
Will COPA Commission Report Influence Vote on Tying E-rate to Filters?
Pending in a Congressional conference committee is the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, HR 4577 which includes amendments that would tie the receipt of E-rate telecomm discounts and LSTA funds to use of filters to block obscenity, child pornography, and "harmful to minors material",, October 16, 2000

Congress Weighing Internet Filtering for Schools, Libraries
Four Republicans are promoting legislation that would force schools and libraries to use Internet blocking software or lose federal dollars intended to help buy Web access, Associated Press, October 15, 2000

Internet School Filtering Act Introduced
Senator McCain Press Release, January 20, 1999

Congress to Revisit Net Filtering
CNET, January 20, 1999

Senate Committee Hears Arguments on Internet Filtering Bill
Free!, March 5, 1999

Organizations and Related Publications

ALA Delivers Closing Arguments in CIPA Trial
Court Panel Hears Final Witnesses in CIPA Trial,
ALA Brings Chelton to the Stand in Near-Final Day of CIPA Trial,
CIPA Trial Enters Second Week,
CIPA Trial Recesses Until Monday,
CIPA Trial Wraps Third Day
American Library Association, March 28 - April 3, 2002

ALA Presents Expert Testimony on Filter Failures at CIPA Trial
American Library Association, March 27, 2002

ALA Presents Arguments in First Day of CIPA Challenge
American Library Association, March 26, 2002

FRC Enters Case Aimed at Protecting Kids on the Internet
Family Research Council, March 22, 2002

Government Censorship Trial Begins Monday
ACLU / Electronic Frontier Foundation, March 22, 2002

Birds, Bees, and Filtering Technology: The Impact of CIPA on Adolescent Health (Adobe PDF format)
Stacy Lau's paper analyzes the effects of the Children's Internet Protection Act on the health of minors, Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy, Princeton University, January 8, 2002.

Cyber Liberties Threatened by Congress, Say Civil Rights Activists
As a special report to the Online Policy Group, Sara Nordin discusses various points of view on CHIPA, Online Policy Group, June 9, 2001

ACLU Files Challenge to Library Internet Censorship In Case Fast-Tracked for Supreme Court Review
Acting on behalf of public libraries, library patrons and website authors nationwide, the American Civil Liberties Union today filed a major legal challenge to a federal law that forces libraries to censor constitutionally protected speech online, ACLU, March 20, 2001.
The American Library Association also filed a lawsuit challenging Children's Internet Protection Act.
Related media releases:
Family Research Council defends CHIPA.

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