NCAC has joined other free expression organizations to protest Congress’ latest effort to censor the Internet. The new law, the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires public schools and libraries that use federal funds to provide Internet services to block images that are "harmful to minors." Adult access to such material would be restricted too, although adults may request unfiltered Internet access for "legitimate" purposes. (NCAC’s briefing paper, The Cyber-Library: Legal & Policy Issues Facing Public Libraries in the High-Tech Era, documents many of the problems with filtering, especially the restrictions on access to much valuable and legal information.) Both the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union have announced plans to challenge the law.
Here’s the full text of the statement and the list of endorsers, coordinated by the Online Policy Group.
Joint Statement Opposing Legislative Requirements for School and Library Internet Blocking Technologies
With the United States Congress’ passage of legislation requiring the use of Internet blocking technologies in all public schools and libraries participating in certain federal programs, it has become clear that these schools and libraries are facing a variety of challenges.
The following individuals and organizations oppose mandatory Internet blocking technology requirements in public schools and libraries because blocking technologies:
- Underblock what they are supposed to block
- Overblock what they are not supposed to block
- Rely on subjective "expert" control
- Are error-prone, vulnerable, problematic, and unfairly discriminatory
- Deny access to constitutionally protected and educationally important materials that schools and libraries would otherwise provide
We also believe government-mandated censorship does not solve problems better handled through local decision making and educational efforts.
The undersigned organizations and individuals commit to working together on the legal challenges to legislation requiring Internet blocking technology.
We commit to a public education campaign on the effects of blocking technology on online access, free speech rights, and civil liberties of students and library patrons. We commit to sharing effective strategies to assist young people in learning to use the Internet safely and effectively to enhance their education.
We will share our research and documentation and will provide educational materials and consulting services to school and library administrators, the general public, and the media. Our goal is to educate everyone potentially affected by the operation of Internet blocking technology in public schools and libraries, regardless of the outcome of legal challenges to legislative requirements for the use of Internet blocking technology.
Any individuals or organizations in agreement with this joint statement are welcome to sign on by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
- American Civil Liberties Union
- American Society of Journalists and Authors
- Boston Coalition for Freedom of Expression
- California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners (CALTAC)
- Center for Media Education
- Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Electronic Privacy Information Center
- First Amendment Project
- Global Effort to Eradicate Know-nothings (GEEK Force)
- Journalism Education Association
- National Coalition Against Censorship
- Online Policy Group
- People for the American Way Foundation
- Rock Out Censorship
(asterisk indicates endorsement is from individual with organization listed only for purposes of identification)
- Donald A. Barclay, MA, MLIS, Galveston, TX
- Hank Bromley, Center for the Study of Technology in Education, State University of New York at Buffalo*
- Jennifer D. Burke, Atlanta, GA
- Doris Cassidy, Yuma, AZ
- Wilfred (Bill) Drew, SUNY Morrisville College Library*
- Seth Finkelstein
- Denise A. Garofalo, Marlboro, NY
- Debbie Grant, Librarian, Canaan Public Library, Canaan, ME
- Tom Hart, Citizen
- Travis Horton, Wake County Public Libraries*, Raleigh, NC
- Anne Poe Lehr, Bookseller
- Mary Ann Meyers, Citizen and Retired Librarian
- Mary R. Minow, J.D., A.M.L.S., LibraryLaw.com, Cupertino, CA
- Michael A. Piper, Research Librarian, Federal Information Center
- Lynn Schlatter, Instructional Coordinator, Shreve Memorial Library*
- Jonathan Wallace, Publisher, The Ethical Spectacle
This statement is available at http://onlinepolicy.org/network/statement.htm.