IT Infrastructure

Schools Still Required to Install Internet Filters

By Mark Walsh — June 12, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Most schools must still comply with a federal law requiring them to install filtering software to prevent children from viewing Internet pornography on school computers, despite a ruling that struck down the law as it applied to public libraries.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 2000, requires both schools and public libraries receiving federal technology funding to equip their computers with the filters. But a special three-judge trial court in Philadelphia ruled unanimously on May 31 that the library provisions violate the First Amendment.

“The plaintiffs demonstrated that thousands of Web pages containing protected speech are wrongly blocked by the four leading filtering programs,” said the district court’s opinion in American Library Association v. United States.

The court struck down the library provisions and enjoined their enforcement. The Chicago- based American Library Association challenged those provisions on behalf of library patrons. The U.S. Justice Department is said to be weighing an appeal, which would be heard directly by the U.S. Supreme Court.

But the Philadelphia ruling did not affect the CIPA provisions that impose obligations on schools applying for technology funds either under the federal E-rate program or under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“Schools need to understand that this was a challenge only to the [public] library portions of the statute,” said Leslie Harris, a lawyer who serves as policy counsel to the Consortium for School Networking, a Washington-based group for school technology leaders. “As of right now, CIPA applies with full force to schools. Until and unless there is a [new legal] challenge, that won’t change.”

A July Deadline

Under the law as well as regulations adopted by the Federal Communications Commission, school districts applying for E-rate discounts on Internet access must certify that they are in compliance with CIPA. For the school year now coming to a close, most applicants could state that they were undertaking compliance procedures, such as procuring filtering software. The regulations, however, did not require that the software be installed for the 2001-02 school year.

But with few exceptions, such as for districts with complex procurement requirements, most schools already receiving E-rate funds will need to have filtering software in place by July 1 of this year, said Liza Kessler, who is also a policy counsel to the Consortium for School Networking.

“The law is very confusingly written,” she said. “If you never participated in the E-rate program before, you would still have one year to get into compliance [with CIPA]. But if you were a school taking E-rate funding for a while, you have to be in [full] compliance as of July 1.”

A School Challenge?

The same rule applies to schools receiving money for Internet access under the ESEA, she said.

The public-library decision could provide the foundation for a legal challenge to the school provisions, said Judith F. Krug, the director of the library association’s office for intellectual freedom.

“Any entity that wants to challenge this for the school sector is going to have a very strong place to stand,” she said. “The technology of the filters isn’t changing for the better just because they are in schools.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the June 12, 2002 edition of Education Week as Schools Still Required to Install Internet Filters

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Profession Webinar
How Does Educator Well-Being Impact Social-Emotional Awareness in Schools?
Explore how adult well-being is key to promoting healthy social-emotional behaviors for students. Get strategies to reduce teacher stress.
Content provided by International Baccalaureate
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure Webinar
A New Era In Connected Learning: Security, Accessibility and Affordability for a Future-Ready Classroom
Learn about Windows 11 SE and Surface Laptop SE. Enable students to unlock learning and develop new skills.
Content provided by Microsoft Surface
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Making Technology Work Better in Schools
Join experts for a look at the steps schools are taking (or should take) to improve the use of technology in schools.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

IT Infrastructure Internet on School Buses: FCC Eyes E-Rate Change to Expand Access
FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel announced a proposal that would allow the use of federal E-rate funding for Wi-Fi in school buses.
2 min read
A Brownsville Independent School District bus acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot for students needing to connect online for distance learning at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year in the Texas school system.
A Brownsville Independent School District bus acts as a WI-FI hotspot for students needing to connect online for distance learning on the first day of class Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in the parking lot of the Margaret M. Clark Aquatic Center in Brownsville, Texas. The bus is one of 20 hotspots throughout the city to help students have access to their online classes as part of the remote start to the school year due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald via AP
IT Infrastructure Stopping Cyberattacks Is Top Priority for Ed-Tech Leaders. But Many Underestimate the Risk
Most K-12 district tech leaders rate common cybersecurity threats as just low or medium risk, survey shows.
4 min read
Images shows a symbolic lock on a technical background.
iStock/Getty
IT Infrastructure Spotlight Spotlight on Infrastructure Modernization
This Spotlight will help you grasp the reality of school infrastructure, parent privacy concerns, watchdog recommendations and more.
IT Infrastructure The Infrastructure Bill Includes Billions for Broadband. What It Would Mean for Students
Students who struggle to access the internet at home may get some relief through $65 billion in funding for broadband, approved by Congress in the new infrastructure bill.
2 min read
Chromebooks, to be loaned to students in the Elk Grove Unified School District, await distribution at Monterey Trail High School in Elk Grove, Calif., on April 2, 2020.
Even as school-issued devices such as Chromebooks, shown above, have proliferated in the pandemic, many students still lack internet access at home, putting them at a disadvantage for completing homework assignments.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP