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Encyclopedia > Children's Internet Protection Act

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is one of a number of bills that the United States Congress has proposed in an attempt to limit children's exposure to pornography and other controversial material online. Senator John McCain of Arizona, a Republican, introduced the bill that would become CIPA to the United States Senate in 1999. After various Representatives repeatedly introduced it to the United States House of Representatives, a final version cleared both houses and passed as part of an omnibus spending bill on December 15, 2000. President Bill Clinton signed it into law on December 21, 2000, and it was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States on June 23, 2003 despite the American Library Association's attempt to have it declared unconstitutional. Type Bicameral Houses Senate House of Representatives President of the Senate President pro tempore Dick Cheney, (R) since January 20, 2001 Robert C. Byrd, (D) since January 4, 2007 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, (D) since January 4, 2007 Members 535 plus 4 Delegates and 1 Resident Commissioner Political... Porn redirects here. ... A senate is a deliberative body, often the upper house or chamber of a legislature. ... “McCain” redirects here. ... Official language(s) English Spoken language(s) English 74. ... The Republican Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States of America, along with the Democratic Party. ... Type Upper House President of the Senate Richard B. Cheney, R since January 20, 2001 President pro tempore Robert C. Byrd, D since January 4, 2007 Members 100 Political groups Democratic Party Republican Party Last elections November 7, 2006 Meeting place Senate Chamber United States Capitol Washington, DC United States... The House of Representatives is the larger of two houses that make up the U.S. Congress, the other being the United States Senate. ... An omnibus spending bill is a bill that sets the budget of many departments of the United States government at once. ... William Jefferson Bill Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III[1] on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. ... Federal courts Supreme Court Circuit Courts of Appeal District Courts Elections Presidential elections Midterm elections Political Parties Democratic Republican Third parties State & Local government Governors Legislatures (List) State Courts Local Government Other countries Atlas  US Government Portal      The Supreme Court of the United States (sometimes colloquially referred to by the... ALA Logo The American Library Association (ALA) is a group based in the United States that promotes libraries and library education internationally. ... Constitutionality is the status of a law, a procedure, or an acts accordance with the laws or guidelines set forth in the applicable constitution. ...


Earlier attempts to restrict indecency and CIPA

Both of Congress's earlier attempts at restricting indecent Internet content, the Communications Decency Act and the Child Online Protection Act, had met with successful Supreme Court challenges on First Amendment grounds. CIPA represented a change in strategy by Congress. While the federal government had no means of directly controlling local school and library boards, many schools and libraries utilized universal service fund discounts, derived from the universal service tax paid by telecommunications users, to purchase Internet access and computers. In passing CIPA, Congress required libraries and schools using these discounts (sometimes called "e-rate discounts") to purchase and use a "technology protection measure" on every computer connected to the Internet. These conditions were also attached to a small subset of grants authorized through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). CIPA did not provide any additional funds for the purchase of the "technology protection measure." The Communications Decency Act (CDA) was arguably the first attempt by the United States Congress to regulate pornographic material on the Internet, in response to public concerns in 1996. ... The Child Online Protection Act[1] (COPA)[2] is a law in the United States of America, passed in 1998 with the declared purpose of protecting children from harmful sexual material on the internet. ... The first ten Amendments to the U.S. Constitution make up the Bill of Rights. ...

What CIPA requires

CIPA requires schools and libraries using e-rate discounts to operate "a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors," and that such a technology protection measure be employed "during any use of such computers by minors." For adult Internet users, the law demanded the same standards with the exception of the "harmful to minors" provision. The law also provides that the library "may disable the technology protection measure concerned, during use by an adult, to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose."

Suit challenging CIPA's constitutionality

On January 17, 2001, the ALA voted to challenge CIPA, on the grounds that the law required libraries to unconstitutionally block access to constitutionally protected information on the Internet. It charged first that, because CIPA's enforcement mechanism involved removing federal funds intended to assist disadvantaged facilities, "CIPA runs counter to these federal efforts to close the digital divide for all Americans." Second, it argued that "no filtering software successfully differentiates constitutionally protected speech from illegal speech on the Internet." The term digital divide refers to the gap between those with regular, effective access to digital and information technology, and those without this access. ...

Working with the American Civil Liberties Union, the ALA successfully challenged the law in the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In a 200-page decision, the judges wrote that "in view of the severe limitations of filtering technology and the existence of these less restrictive alternatives [including making filtering software optional or supervising users directly], we conclude that it is not possible for a public library to comply with CIPA without blocking a very substantial amount of constitutionally protected speech, in violation of the First Amendment." 201 F.Supp.2d 401, 490 (2002). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a major American non-profit organization whose stated mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.[1] It works through litigation, legislation, and community...

CIPA found constitutional

Upon appeal to the Supreme Court, however, the law was upheld as constitutional as a condition imposed on institutions in exchange for government funding. In upholding the law, the Supreme Court, adopting the interpretation urged by the U.S. Solicitor General at oral argument, made it clear that the constitutionality of CIPA would be upheld only "if, as the Government represents, a librarian will unblock filtered material or disable the Internet software filter without significant delay on an adult user's request."

As noted above, the text of the law authorized institutions to disable the filter on request "for bona fide research or other lawful purpose," implying that the adult would be expected to provide justification with his request. But under the interpretation urged by the Solicitor General and adopted by the Supreme Court, libraries would be required to adopt an Internet use policy providing for unblocking the Internet for adult users, without a requirement that the library inquire into the user's reasons for disabling the filter.

Libraries can still refuse to filter their Internet access if they are willing to forego federal E-Rate funds. Several library systems, including the Westchester Library System in New York and the Multnomah County Library System in Oregon, have chosen to give up federal funding in order to keep their computers unfiltered. The Westchester Library System (WLS) is the library system for the citizens of Westchester County, New York. ... This article is about the state. ... Multnomah County is a county located in the state of Oregon, the smallest in area but the largest in population due to Portland, the county seat and largest city in Oregon. ...

Post-CIPA legislation

An attempt to expand CIPA to include "social networking" web sites is currently being considered. See Deleting Online Predators Act. The Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006[4] (DOPA) is a bill (H.R. 5319) brought before the United States House of Representatives on May 9, 2006 by Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA). ...


In Polish, the word cipa is an vulgar term.

External links

Text of the Children's Internet Protection Act

Legal History:

  • ALA's CIPA litigation history page.
    • ALA v. US, Opinion of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 31 May 2002
    • US v. ALA, Opinion of the US Supreme Court, 23 June 2003
    • Supreme Court Supports Library Internet Blocking Law; Damages Free Speech of Library Patrons and Web Publishers, 23 June 2003, Electronic Frontier Foundation sourced Media Release.

FCC Information and Regulations: EFF Logo The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is an international non-profit advocacy and legal organization based in the United States with the stated purpose of being dedicated to preserving free speech rights such as those protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution in the context of...

Reports and Studies on Protecting Youth on the Internet

  • National Research Council: Youth, Pornography, and the Internet, 2002
  • The Final Report of the COPA Commission (2000)
  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration: Children’s Internet Protection Act: Report on the Effectiveness of Internet Protection Measures and Safety Policies, 15 August 2003.

Organizations Opposed to CIPA and Internet Filtering in Public Libraries and Schools: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce that serves as the Presidents principal adviser on telecommunications policies pertaining to the United States economic and technological advancement and to regulation of the telecommunications industry. ...

  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • American Library Association
  • The Center for Democracy and Technology
  • Peacefire
  • The Electronic Frontier Foundation
  • Electronic Privacy Information Center
  • First Amendment Center
  • Free Expression Policy Project
  • National Coalition Against Censorship
  • The Censorware Project

Organizations Supporting CIPA and Internet Filtering in Public Libraries and Schools:

  • Family Friendly Libraries
  • Grassroots American Values
  • Information and Links re: Library Internet Use Policies
  • Plan2Succeed Citizen's Group
  • SafeLibraries.org

See also



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