CIPA trial enters second week

Contacts: Larra Clark


ALA Archived News Release

Originally posted April 2, 2002

The government returned with its witnesses yesterday morning in the second week of the American Library Association's (ALA) legal challenge to the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA). The three-judge federal court panel heard from:

  • Don Barlow, of Westerville (Ohio) Public Library, who testified about his library's use of Internet filters
  • Don Davis, of the University of Texas at Austin, who testified to the roles libraries play
  • Cory Finnell, an independent consultant formerly employed by blocking technology firm N2H2, who testified to his testing of blocking systems used at Westerville; Greenville, S.C.; and Tacoma, Wash., public libraries

“As have all of the technical witnesses before him, Mr. Finnell testified to the imperfection of blocking technology in differentiating legal and useful information from illegal speech,” said ALA attorney Theresa Chmara of Jenner and Block. “Mr. Finnell tested the systems used at all three of the libraries testifying for the government, and found significant overblocking.”

CIPA and the Neighborhood Children’s Internet Protection Act (NCIPA) were signed into law December 21, 2000. CIPA mandates the use of blocking technology for public libraries that seek Universal Service discounts (E-rate) for Internet access, Internet service or internal connections, or that seek Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds to purchase computers for Internet access or to pay for Internet access. The ALA and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed lawsuits challenging the law in March 2001. The cases were combined and are being heard by a three-judge panel made up of two district and one appellate court judge. People for the American Way is serving as supporting counsel for the ALA challenge.

The trial is expected to conclude April 3. The judges will likely rule by early May so libraries will have time to prepare before E-rate and LSTA deadlines fall.

For more information and updates on CIPA and the legal challenge, please go to
ALA's CIPA website.

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