Have any of your internet searches at school ever been blocked?
That is because of a law called the Children Internet Protection Act, passed in Dec. 2000, which requires schools and libraries receiving federal e-rate funding for Internet connections to filter out certain types of objectionable online content. CIPA survived a challenge in the Supreme Court, and today schools and libraries are still required to adhere to the law.
PROBLEMS WITH CIPA:
- Underblocks – Filters exist presumably to filter porn, yet it still manages to seep in. It is impossible to filter out so many sites, particularly when new ones are appearing every day to replace filtered ones.
- Overblocks – Some students have found that words like “pussy willows; magna cum laude; Dick Army; also Buddhist nunnery. Hump-back whales, Titanic” are filtered.
- Misleads – Because many filters can have overly broad categories like “sex”, which includes homosexuality; “cult,” which includes Paganism, wicca, these groups are marginalized.
- Infringes upon students’ free expression rights.
- Costs needy school districts a lot of money and time to install filters and keep them updated.
- Discriminates – Filters can create a “Digital Divide” between the haves and have-nots. Those who depend on schools and libraries for information, and do not have access to personal internet access at home, find themselves disadvantaged in the information age if their searches are being filtered.
We believe that censorship is not the solution and actually creates greater problems. The real solution is to teach children how to be media literate, to be responsible and to make educated decisions on how to participate and take advantage of the information age.
Links for more information on internet filters and CIPA
Prepared by the Free Expression Policy Project , Internet Filters: A Public Policy Report
American Library Association , www.ala.org, for information about the Children Internet Protection Act.
Some filtered sites may include:
Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, www.GLSEN.org, is “the leading national organization fighting to end anti-gay bias in K-12 schools. It combats the harassment and discrimination leveled against students and school personnel by creating learning environments that affirm the inherent dignity of all students, and, in so doing, teaches students to respect and accept all of their classmates– regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.”
NYCLU Teen Health Initiative, www.nyclu.org/thi, was founded to help New York State kids and teens obtain vital information about their rights to healthcare, including comprehensive reproductive healthcare.
Planned Parenthood, for news articles, resources, and free advice and legal assistance about your right to public health information, visit this abstinence-only report by Planned Parentood at their website www.plannedparenthood.org.