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Contact: Larra Clark

ALA News Release
For Immediate Release
January 18, 2001

American Library Association votes to challenge CIPA

The executive board of the American Library Association (ALA) voted yesterday to initiate legal action challenging the recently enacted Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), signed into law on December 21. The decision came after more than a week of intense discussion among leaders and members during the association's annual Midwinter Meeting. The ALA contends the act is unconstitutional and creates an infringement of First Amendment protections.

The federal rider, which was attached to the Labor HHS Education Appropriations Bill, mandates libraries and schools install content filters on all computers that offer Internet access as a prerequisite to receiving federal grant funds. Funding sources include the e-rate program, the Library Services and Technology Act, and the Technology Title, Title III, of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. All three programs help ensure schools and libraries provide access to the resources communities need to thrive in the information age. CIPA runs counter to these federal efforts to close the digital divide for all Americans.

No filtering software successfully differentiates constitutionally protected speech from illegal speech on the Internet. Even the federal commission appointed to study child safety on the Internet concluded filters are not effective in blocking all content that some may find objectionable, but they do block much useful and constitutionally protected information.

The association is researching and exploring its options in preparation for litigation.