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Media Release: School Communities Give Internet Filtering Law Failing Grade

For Immediate Release: September 16, 2002


Will Doherty
Executive Director
Online Policy Group

School Communities Give Internet Filtering Law Failing Grade

Research Reports Thousands of Sites Incorrectly Blocked

San Francisco - School administrators, along with students, teachers, parents, and school librarians, in San Francisco, New York, and Boston will speak out on September 18 against federal mandates for Internet blocking or filtering software in public schools.

The Online Policy Group (OPG), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), and Youth Free Expression Network (YFEN), a project of the Free Expression Policy Project (FEPP), are sponsoring the press conferences along with local school community members.

School communities nationwide are urging repeal of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) which requires public schools and libraries receiving certain federal funds or discounts to install a "technology protection measure" to block Internet access to materials that are "harmful to minors."

A federal district court has already struck down a similar portion of the CIPA law that required libraries to install filters because the court found that filtering products unsuccessfully blocked access to materials that are harmful to minors while abridging the free speech of library patrons by overblocking constitutionally protected materials. The government has appealed the library decision to the Supreme Court. The schools portion of the CIPA law remains in force.

OPG and EFF will announce results of a study demonstrating thousands of sites inappropriately blocked by two of the most widely used Internet filters based on topic searches of state-mandated school curriculums from three states.

ACLU and EFF will unveil action alerts directed at Congressional repeal of CIPA and at local school boards administering Internet blocking in schools.

Press conferences will take place at the following times and locations:


Boston area--

Time: 2:00pm - 3:30pm EST on September 18, 2002

Location: Bartos Auditorium, MIT Media Lab, 20 Ames Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

Organizer: Dr. Rob Reilly


Phone: +1 617 253-0369 (office) or +1 413 329-1878 (cell)

Speakers (not final):

* Dr. Rob Reilly, Visiting Scientist, MIT Media Lab

* Ms. Jeanne Schultz, President, Massachusetts Elementary School Principal's Association

* Ms. Nancy Murray, Director, Bill of Rights Education Project, ACLU of Massachusetts

* Mr. Seth Finkelstein, Consultant (EFF Pioneer Award winner)

* Ms. Kathy Massimiano, Computer Education Teacher, Richmond (Mass.) Public School System

Directions to Press Conference:

via the 'T': take Red line to MIT/Kendall station, which is Main Street; walk north on Main Street (away from Boston); at the first corner (at the traffic light) is Ames Street is on the left; the MIT Media Lab is on the left (it's a bright white building); enter the building and go downstairs to Bartos Auditorium.


New York--

Time: 12:30pm - 1:30pm EST on September 18, 2002

Location: Harlem Live, 301 W. 125th Street, Third Floor, New York, NY

Organizer: Stephanie Elizondo Griest


Phone: +1 212 807-6222 x17 (office), +1 650 784-5389 (cell), +1 212 222-4681 (Harlem Live during the conference only)

Speakers (not final):

* Danya Steele, Editor, Harlem Live

* Eve Bertin, Editor, Laguardia High School student newspaper

* Ann Beeson, Litigation Director, ACLU's Technology and Liberty Program

* Marjorie Heins, Director, Free Expression Policy Project

* Statements from two high school teachers


San Francisco--

Time: 12:00 Noon to 1:00 PM PST on September 18, 2002

Location: Mission High School, 3750 18th St. (sidewalk in front of building, between Church St. and Dolores St.), San Francisco, CA

Organizer: Will Doherty

Email: or

Phone: +1 415 436-9333 x111 (office) or +1 415 794-6064 (cell)

Speakers (not final, affiliations may be for id purposes only):

* Parent and school librarian

* Technology teacher

* Private school teacher

* Students and possibly parents from local schools

* Ann Brick, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California

* Will Doherty, Executive Director, Online Policy Group, and Media Relations Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation


Press packets with a variety of informational materials will be available at the press conferences. A more comprehensive media release will be published early on the day of the press conferences.

This media release available at

About OPG:

The Online Policy Group (OPG) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to online policy research, outreach, and action on issues such as access, privacy, and digital defamation. The organization fulfills its motto of "one Internet with equal access to all" through projects such as donation-based email list hosting, web hosting, domain registrations, and now colocation services. OPG focuses on Internet participants' civil liberties and human rights, like access, privacy, safety, and serving schools, libraries, disabled, elderly, youth, women, and sexual, gender, and ethnic minorities. Find out more at

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