Contact: Larra Clark, Press Officer
Frank DiFulvio, ALA Washington Office Press Officer
Paige Wasson, PR Assistant
For Immediate Release
June 23, 2003
(Toronto) The American Library Association (ALA) today expressed disappointment in today’s very narrow decision from the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
“The decision, however, is very narrow in that Justices Kennedy and Breyer did not join Chief Justice Rehnquist's opinion, they only joined the judgment,” said Judith Krug, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “Justices Kennedy and Breyer joined the judgment because they believe adult patrons need only ask the librarian to ‘please disable the filter’ and need not provide any reason for the request. In light of this, we expect libraries that decide they must accept filters to inform their patrons how easily the filters can be turned off.”
Justice Kennedy’s opinion requires that filtering companies create filters that can be immediately and easily dismantled to meet the information needs of library users.
The American Library Association again calls for full disclosure of what sites filtering companies are blocking, who is deciding what is filtered and what criteria are being used. Findings of fact clearly show that filtering companies are not following legal definitions of “harmful to minors” and “obscenity.” Their practices must change.
To assist local libraries in their decision process, the ALA will seek this information from filtering companies, then evaluate and share the information with the thousands of libraries now being forced to forego funds or choose faulty filters. The American Library Association also will explain how various products work, criteria to consider in selecting a products and how to best use a given product in a public setting. Library users must be able to see what sites are being blocked and, if needed, be able to request the filter be disabled with the least intrusion into their privacy and the least burden on library service.
The ALA will do everything possible to support the governing bodies of these local institutions as they struggle with this very difficult decision.
A quick summary of the CIPA decision is available online.
For more information, see the Supreme Court's decision at http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/02pdf/02-361.pdf.