In the decade since the Supreme Court upheld the implementation of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), internet filtering has become a frequent practice in public libraries.It has also become the primary strategy for managing students’ internet access in school libraries.Often, it is because the institutions and individuals responsible for implementing these policies misunderstand or misinterpret CIPA and the Supreme Court decision upholding the law.Among these misunderstandings is a belief that an institution will lose all federal funding if it does not block all potentially inappropriate sites to the fullest extent practicable, or that the Supreme Court decision authorized mandatory filtering for adults and youths alike.Recent court filings, news reports, and online posts, however, have begun to shine a spotlight on libraries’ filtering policies and practices.
National security concerns, the need to fight terrorism and crime, and issues regarding child protection have resulted in the state introducing extensive surveillance measures over online communications as well as filtering and tracking practices.
In some cases these are encouraged or required by the state and used by state agencies.
In others they are voluntarily implemented by private operators (e.g., internet service providers).
An administrator, supervisor, or other person authorized by the school or library may disable the filtering software during use by an adult, to enable access for bona fide research or for another lawful purpose.
A school or library may unblock appropriate sites that are wrongfully blocked by the filtering software for users of all ages.