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Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act 10 Years Later

Fencing Out Knowledge – Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act 10 Years Later, American Library Association, Policy Brief No. 5, June 2014.

“What do Hotmail, YouTube, Google Docs, Facebook, and National Geographic have in common? They offer content and services that millions of Americans use every day to communicate, share content, and seek information. They also may be filtered under the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) (47 U.S.C. 254), making them inaccessible to children and adults who rely on internet access provided by public libraries and schools. Passed in 2000, CIPA was designed to block adults and minors from accessing online images deemed “obscene,” “child pornography,” or “harmful to minors” for minors less than 17 years old under the law by requiring public libraries and schools receiving certain federal funding to install software filters on their internet-accessible computers. Yet the use of the internet is vastly different today than when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this law in 2003. Indeed, decision makers could not have predicted the ways in which the internet and devices used to access online content would revolutionize learning opportunities in and out of school. But as the means used to access and create content online have evolved, filtering in public libraries and schools has simply increased instead of evolving in a parallel fashion. Filtered content today, particularly in schools, encompasses entire social media and social networking sites as well as interactive or collaborative websites, extending far beyond what the law requires.”

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