Children's Internet Protection Act
The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law that requires all computers in a public library to be filtered by July 1, 2004 if that library accepts any federal funds for Internet access or computers used for Internet access. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is complying with this law as a member of the eiNetwork consortium, which receives a significant amount of federal funding to provide Internet access to over 85 libraries around Allegheny County.
Please be aware that filters are unreliable: at times sites with legitimate information or educational value can be blocked; at other times sites that are illegal, obscene, or sexually explicit (especially those containing images) may not be blocked. See the Kraskin article below ("Why Filters Won’t Protect Children or Adults") for further information.
Parents or legal guardians, and not the Library or its staff, are responsible for monitoring their children's use of the Internet and for the information selected and/or accessed by their children. The Library strongly encourages parents or legal guardians to supervise their children's Internet use and to provide them with guidelines about acceptable use.
Any adult (17 years of age or older) may request that the filter be disabled without significant delay by a library staff member. An authorized staff member may override the filter for a minor (age 16 years or younger) in the event that the filter wrongly blocks or filters Internet access to a specific site with legitimate informational value.
Websites for further information
American Library Association: CIPA and Libraries
The American Library Association (ALA) has pulled together information for libraries about the Children's Internet Protection Act and its implementation in libraries. It covers legislation, litigation, regulations and guidance for libraries, and the history of CIPA.
Why Filters Won’t Protect Children or Adults
This is an article by Nancy Kranich, published in Library Administration & Management, vol. 18, number 1, Winter 2004, pp. 14-18 (reproduced here on the ALA website). Kranich explains the problem with filters and how they work - or don't work. She has additional references at the end.
Federal Communications Commission: Children's Internet Protection Act
This website for the consumer from the Federal government explains what the CIPA is and what it requires.
Library Journal CIPA Update: Part I: Deadline Approaches, Large PLs in Poorer Areas Squeezed
This is the first of a five-part daily series on CIPA that Library Journal ran from February 23-27, 2004. The subsequent articles follow below:
- Part II: Tactics Vary, No Statistics Yet
- Part III: Technical Questions, Help From Some States
- Part IV: Can Implementation Be Challenged?
- Part V: "Son of CIPA Bills" Proposed
National Telecommunications and Information Administration: "Children’s Internet Protection Act Study of Technology Protection Measures"
On August 15, 2003, NTIA (US Department of Commerce) released a report requested by the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to evaluate whether the currently available Internet blocking or filtering technology protection measures and Internet safety policies adequately address the needs of educational institutions. NTIA’s report (available at their website) concludes that the currently available technology measures have the capacity to meet most of the needs and concerns of educational institutions.