The beginnings of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

Congress passed the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Neighborhood Internet Protection Act (NCIPA) as part of a major spending bill (H.R. 4577) on December 15, 2000. The President signed the bill into law on December 21, 2000 (Public Law 106-554). The Acts place restrictions on the use of funding that is available through the Library Services and Technology Act, Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and on the Universal Service discount program known as the E-rate. These restrictions take the form of requirements for Internet safety policies and technology which blocks or filters certain material from being accessed through the Internet.

The law was permanently enjoined by a three-judge panel on May 30, 2002. The Supreme Court overturned the decision on June 23, 2003.

For an exact timeline and specific details for each bill, see A Summary of Filtering Bills in the 106th Congress at the online Tech Law Journal.

S. 97, Children's Internet Protection Act

ALAWON: American Library Association Washington Office Newsline reported that on March 4 Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) chaired a hearing on filtering legislation that he and ranking minority member Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) have proposed. The Children's Internet Protection Act, S. 97 (See ALAWON v8, n7, January 22, 1999) would "require the installation and use by schools and libraries of a technology for filtering or blocking material on the Internet on computers with Internet access to be eligible to receive or retain universal service assistance."

Testimony against S. 97 was given by Candace Morgan, president of the Freedom to Read Foundation (FRTF), on March 4, 1999 (See March/April 1999 Intellectual Freedom Action News).

The ALA Washington Office asks that you call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to urge Senators to adjust S. 97 to respect local decision making. If you have a written Internet use policy as well as a description of the process your library and its board went through to develop that policy, please write to your Senator and share that information. (Please also send a blind copy to the ALA Washington Office at 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 403, Washington, D.C. 20004.)

S. 97, the Children's Internet Protection Act (introduced by Sen. John McCain, R-AZ), introduced on January 19, 1999, was a companion bill to HR 896. The Senate Commerce Committee adopted S. 97 RS on June 23. The act would require that an "elementary or secondary school having computers with Internet access may not receive services at discount rates unless [it] (i) has selected a technology for its computers with Internet access in order to filter or block Internet access through such computers to (I) material that is obscene; and (II) child pornography; and (ii) is enforcing a policy to ensure the operation of the technology during any use of such computers by minors." No action has been taken on this legislation.

See the page, Contacting Elected Officials about Issues/Legislation related to Intellectual Freedom, for a list of where and how to contact your senators.

H.R. 543, is identical to S. 97, and was introduced by Rep. Bob Franks (R-N.J.). H.R. 368, the Safe Schools Internet Act, also was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Bob Franks (R-N.J.). It is similar to H.R. 543, but uses the phrase “matter deemed to be inappropriate for minors.”

Morgan reported on behalf of the Freedom to Read Foundation to ALA Council on June 27 at the 1999 Annual Conference that "a number of bills are pending in Congress (H.R. 368, H.R. 543, H.R. 896, and S.97) that would mandate the use of filters on Internet terminals in libraries and schools as a condition for the receipt of E-rate subsidies. FTRF will consider whether to take legal action should one or more of these bills be enacted into law."

H.R. 896, Children's Internet Protection Act

H.R. 896, the Children's Internet Protection Act (introduced by Rep. Bob Franks, R-NJ), was approved by the House on June 15, 1999. It would require that schools receiving e-rate subsidies use filtering software to “protect” children from “pornography.” Schools would have to certify that they “selected a technology for computers with Internet access to filter or block (i) child pornographic material (ii) obscene materials and (iii) during use by minors, materials deemed to be harmful to minors" and "installed, or will install, and uses or will use, as soon as it obtains computers with Internet access, a technology to filter or block such material.”

On June 17, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1501, the Child Safety and Protection Act, "after acting on 44 amendments... One amendment with direct impact on libraries would eliminate E- rate telecommunications discounts for libraries and schools that do not use blocking or filtering technology for computers with Internet access" (See ALAWON v8, n63, June 18, 1999 and ALCTS Network News Volume 17, Number 23, June 18, 1999 and American Libraries News briefs for June 21, 1999, "Filtering Mandate Added to Juvenile-Justice Bill").

H.R. 896 was amended and attached to the House Juvenile Justice Bill in 1999, but this justice bill has not become law.

H.R. 4600, Children's Internet Protection Act

On June 8, 2000, Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) and Rep. Bop Franks (R-NJ) reintroduced their Children’s Internet Protection Act. The bill would require schools and libraries that accept e-rate subsidies to use filtering technology.

HR 2560, the Child Protection Act (introduced by Rep. Ernest Istook, R-OK), would require schools and libraries receiving federal funds to acquire computers to use filtering software. This bill would affect schools and libraries receiving funds to acquire or operate computers, whereas the Children’s Internet Protection Act is directed at schools and libraries receiving e-rate funds. Istook’s bill was introduced on July 20, 1999, but was removed from any legislation.