Filters and Filtering

Basics | Policies and More | Courts and More | CIPA | Internet Toolkit and More | News and More | Organizations Opposing Filtering | ALA Policies and Statements on Filtering | Especially for Young People and Their Parents; Further Information on Filtering |

“Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.” — ALA Library Bill of Rights


Internet Filters: A Public Policy Report (June 2006)

"This fully revised and updated report (PDF), written by the Brennan Cener for Justice at NYU School of Law Free Expression Policy Project, surveys tests and studies of Internet filtering products from the mid-1990s through 2006. It provides an essential resource for the ongoing debate. Or, for a free printed copy, e-mail"

Study: Overzealous filters hinder research (October 2005)

"The internet-content filters most commonly used by schools block needed, legitimate content more often than not, according to a study by a university librarian. Her report was presented at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) conference in Pittsburgh last week."

OpenNet Initiative
"The OpenNet Initiative is a collaborative partnership between three leading academic institutions: the  Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto,  Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, and the Advanced Network Research Group at the  Cambridge Security Programme, University of Cambridge. Our aim is to excavate, expose and analyze filtering and surveillance practices in a credible and non-partisan fashion. We intend to uncover the potential pitfalls and unintended consequences of these practices, and thus help to inform better public policy and advocacy work in this area. To achieve these aims, the ONI employs a unique multi-disciplinary approach that includes: Advanced Technical Means—using a suite of sophisticated network interrogation tools and metrics; and Local Knowledge Expertise—through a global network of regionally based researchers and experts. OpenNet Initiative research will be published on this website in a series of national and regional case studies, occasional papers, and bulletins. As part of its work, the OpenNet Initiative also operates a "clearinghouse" for circumvention technologies that assess and evaluate systems intended to let users bypass filtering and surveillance. We also actively develop circumvention technologies in-house as a means to explore the limitations of filtration and counter-filtration practices."

See also Control and Censorship of the Internet

“The American Library Association (ALA) today renewed its call for a greater focus on Internet safety education in light of a new study that demonstrates Internet filters fail to block 13 percent of pornography sites while denying access to important health information. The ALA made its remarks as part of panel gathered by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to discuss the results of their new Internet filtering study.” — National Research Council, Education is the only way for children to safely navigate the Web

“Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks, put up fences, and deploy pool alarms. All these measures are helpful, but by far the most important thing that one can do for one’s children is to teach them to swim.” — National Research Council, Youth, Pornography, and the Internet

“As Justice Kennedy explained, if a librarian does not "unblock filtered material or disable the Internet software filter without significant delay," or "if it is shown that an adult user's election to view constitutionally protected Internet material is burdened in some other substantial way, that would be the subject for an as-applied challenge." Id. at 1 (Kennedy, concurring); see also id. at 5-6 (Breyer, J., concurring).”—CIPA Legal FAQs

"Consumer Reports' (CR) latest tests of filtering software (June 2005) show that while Internet blockers have gotten better at blocking pornography, the best also tend to block many sites they shouldn't. In addition, Consumer Reports found the software to be less effective at blocking sites promoting hatred, illegal drugs or violence. The June issue includes ratings of 11 popular filtering software products and advice for concerned parents who are trying to better protect their children online. . . . Filters kept out most, but not all, of the pornography. The worst performer blocked 88 percent, enough to serve as an obstacle, but not impervious to a persistent teen. — Information sites can be snubbed, too. The best porn blockers were heavy-handed against sites about health issues, sex education, civil rights and politics."


First Amendment Basics | International Intellectual Freedom Basics | American Library Basics | International Library Basics | Censorship Basics | Internet Censorship | The IFLA Internet Manifesto | Lester Asheim in Cyberspace: A Tribute to Sound Reasoning | Why Filters Won't Protect Children or Adults | CPPA, COPA, CIPA: Which Is Which? |

Policies and More

ALA Intellectual Freedom Policies and the First Amendment | Internet Filtering Statements of State Library Associations | Internet Use Policies | Internet Filtering in Public Libraries (Jenner & Block Memorandum) | Minors, Libraries, and the Internet | Checklist & Ideas for Library Staff Working with Community Leaders |

Courts and More

Court Decisions Against Internet Filtering | CIPA Web Site | Pending Internet Legislation |


The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) designates federal funding for libraries that install filters on all its computers. Libraries that do not accept federal funding do not have to install filters.  That is, the Supreme Court's opinion has no effect on libraries that are not covered by CIPA (i.e., libraries that do not receive e-rate discounts or LSTA funds for the provision of public Internet access).

Potential Legal Challenges to the Application of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in Public Libraries: Strategies and Issues by Paul T. Jaeger and Charles R. McClure

For additional information on CIPA, see ALA's CIPA Web SitePublic Libraries and the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA): Legal SourcesCIPA Supreme Court Decision (PDF).

Internet Toolkit and More

ALA Libraries & the Internet Toolkit | Especially for Children and Their Parents | Statements and Papers Opposing Filtering | Youth, Pornography, and the Internet (2002) |

News and More

Contacting Elected Officials about Issues/Legislation Related to Intellectual Freedom | News Sources for Information about the Internet, Filters, Filtering, Intellectual Freedom, and the First Amendment | Filtering the Future?: Software Filters, Porn, PICS, and the Internet Content Conundrum: A Doctoral Thesis by Christopher D. Hunter (PDF) |

Organizations Opposing Filtering

Organizations Opposing Filtering | Other Organizations Opposing Filtering |

ALA Policies and Statements on Filtering

Resolution on Opposition to Federally Mandated Internet Filtering (2001)

Resolution on the Use of Filtering Software in Libraries (1997)

Statement on Library Use of Filtering Software (1997)

Especially for Young People and Their Parents; Further Information on Filtering

Especially for Young People and Their Parents

Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) Web Site

ALA Libraries & the Internet Toolkit

Guidelines and Considerations for Developing a Public Library Internet Use Policy

Internet Blocking & Censorware

Internet Filters: A Public Policy Report

The Internet Advocate

Internet Filtering in Public Libraries (Jenner & Block Memorandum)

Advice and Resources (from the ALA CIPA Web Site)

News and Articles (from the ALA CIPA Web Site)

The Internet Filter Assessment Project, an independent, informal project on the quality of filters

Final Report of the COPA Commission, Presented to Congress, October 20, 2000

Selected Testimonies to the Child Online Protection Act Commission

Blocking Software FAQ — Peacefire

‘Tools’ fail as strategies to keep kids away from Net sex at libraries

Links to non-ALA sites have been provided because these sites may have information of interest. Neither the American Library Association nor the Office for Intellectual Freedom necessarily endorses the views expressed or the facts presented on these sites; and furthermore, ALA and OIF do not endorse any commercial products that may be advertised or available on these sites.

Related Files

Filtering the Future?: Software Filters, Porn, PICS, and the Internet Content Conundrum by Christopher D. Hunter (PDF File)

Related Links

Control and Censorship of the Internet