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Intellectual Freedom in the age of CIPA and Content Filtering

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The issue of intellectual freedom is central to the mission of libraries. The American Library Association defines intellectual freedom as the "right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.

" ( It is our duty to uphold and protect this right, but that is a complicated task given the existence of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires that schools and libraries receiving federal funding for internet services must apply content filters to protect children from harmful or obscene material on the internet. These filters often have the effect of blocking material that has educational value and is not actually inappropriate. In many instances, content that pertains to one perspective on an issue passes through the filter while content pertaining to an opposing and perhaps controversial perspective is blocked. It is therefore difficult to ensure that individuals are able to obtain information from all points of view.

What can be done to ensure that filtering mechanisms do not result in unnecessary biases of information? Is it possible to find a balance where we are successfully filtering out legitimately obscene material and allowing students to seek information from diverse perspectives in an educationally productive environment? As librarians and educators, we must understand the facts and various perspectives surrounding this issue and work to preserve our students' intellectual freedom so they are prepared to function productively in a democratic society.

Background image used under Creative Commons Attribution License. Original image via Flickr user Opensourceway, created by Caroline Madigan for

Children's Internet Protection Act - CIPA - E-Rate Central. The following is an overview of the Children's Internet Protection Act (C.I.P.A.) as published by the SLD.

Children's Internet Protection Act - CIPA - E-Rate Central

Children's Internet Protection Act. The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted by Congress in 2000 to address concerns about children's access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet.

Children's Internet Protection Act

CIPA imposes certain requirements on schools or libraries that receive discounts for Internet access or internal connections through the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications services and products more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. In early 2001, the FCC issued rules implementing CIPA and provided updates to those rules in 2011. Advocacy, Legislation & Issues. The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

Advocacy, Legislation & Issues

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. School Library Media Centers and Intellectual Freedom. Dianne McAfee Hopkins Dianne McAfee Hopkins is professor, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Wisconsin - Madison.

School Library Media Centers and Intellectual Freedom

She is also faculy coordinator, school library media program. School Library Media Centers and Intellectual Freedom. Pat R.

School Library Media Centers and Intellectual Freedom

Scales is a retired middle and high school librarian. Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A. The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Neighborhood Internet Protection Act (NCIPA) went into effect on April 20, 2001.

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)

These laws 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 (Public Law 106-554). 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 deadline for complying with NCIPA was July 1, 2002 for those libraries receiving 2002 E-rate discounts for Internet access or internal connections. The deadline for compliance with CIPA was July 1, 2004, following the Supreme Court ruling in 2003. Legal History: This section details the history of CIPA, beginning with its inception, and following it through the legal challenges brought against it.

10 Reasons to Check out the ALA Intellectual Freedom Manual. Banned Websites Awareness Day. To raise awareness of the overly restrictive blocking of legitimate, educational websites and academically useful social networking tools in schools and school libraries, AASL has designated one day during Banned Books Week as Banned Websites Awareness Day.

Banned Websites Awareness Day

On Wednesday, September 30, AASL asks school librarians and other educators to promote an awareness of how overly restrictive filtering affects student learning. Background | Complimentary Webinar | Resources & Activities Logo Use | Promotional Partners. Banned Websites Awareness Day Background. Usually the public thinks of censorship in relation to books, however there is a growing censorship issue in schools and school libraries – overly restrictive filtering of educational websites reaching far beyond the requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Banned Websites Awareness Day Background

Students, teachers, and school librarians in many schools are frustrated daily when they discover legitimate educational websites blocked by filtering software installed by their school. Filtering websites does the next generation of digital citizens a disservice. Students must develop skills to evaluate information from all types of sources in multiple formats, including the Internet. Relying solely on filters does not teach young citizens how to be savvy searchers or how to evaluate the accuracy of information. Over extensive filtering also extends to the use of online social networking sites such as FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogger, etc. What You Should Know About Banned Websites Awareness Day, September 24. As part of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Banned Books Week campaign to raise awareness about the impact of censorship on intellectual freedom, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is designating Wednesday September 24th, 2014 as the fourth Annual Banned Websites Awareness Day (BWAD).

What You Should Know About Banned Websites Awareness Day, September 24

AASL is to be commended for taking the lead on this intellectual freedom issue. It is increasingly evident that access to participatory media is essential to teaching the frameworks set forth by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, dedicated to fostering 21st-century readiness among students and, more specifically for school librarians, AASL’s Learning for Life (L4L) standards. Fact Sheet on Children's Internet Protection Act. EPIC’s CIPA litigation. KNOW_39_1_MinorsFirst_16-21.pdf. White Paper on Educational Technology in Schools. Download as a PDF Introduction When used appropriately, educational technology is a tool to assist with implementation of the Common Core Standards, help raise graduation rates, and prepare students for life beyond K-12 education.

White Paper on Educational Technology in Schools

Technology employed in isolation, without direct instruction, or highly qualified guidance, fails to address these concerns. It is the intent of this AASL white paper to provide a review of technology-related topics that can contribute to success and might serve to generate interest in further research on filtering practices, Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs), apps, social media, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and related subjects. Intellectual Freedom 101: Strategies for School Libraries. Among the dozens of concurrent learning sessions at the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) National Conference last month, a popular theme was that of intellectual freedom in the classroom and school library. “What Do I Do If? Intellectual Freedom Dilemmas in School Libraries,” [PDF] one of several panels to examine the subject, stood out for its scope and its round-robin style approach to problem-solving and swapping of best practices. The presenters came from diverse backgrounds, representing numerous grade levels from K through 12, to share their personal experiences in facing intellectual freedom situations in their schools, from books to websites to collection development.

Freedom to read Dee Venuto, high school librarian in Lumberton, NJ, shared the repeated challenges she’s faced in teaching the award-winning Dreaming in Cuban (Random House, 1992) by Cristina García. I Love Libraries. Libraries are advocates for the freedom of the press and the freedom to read, inalienable rights guaranteed in the United States Constitution. Despite that, there are an astonishing number of threats to that freedom occurring in libraries today. Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons—individuals, groups or government officials—find objectionable or dangerous. It is no more complicated than someone saying, “Don’t let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it! The Cost of Censorship in Libraries: 10 Years Under the Children’s Internet Protection Act. This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the enforcement of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which brought new levels of Internet censorship to libraries across the country.

CIPA was signed into law in 2000 and found constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2003. The law is supposed to encourage public libraries and schools to filter child pornography and obscene or “harmful to minors” images from the library’s Internet connection in exchange for continued federal funding. Unfortunately, as Deborah Caldwell-Stone explains in Filtering and the First Amendment, aggressive interpretations of this law have resulted in extensive and unnecessary censorship in libraries, often because libraries go beyond the legal requirements of CIPA when implementing content filters. As a result, students and library patrons across the country are routinely and unnecessarily blocked from accessing constitutionally protected websites.

What should not be censored under CIPA? Cipa_report. The School Library Media Specialist: Information Access & Delivery. "Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.

" Excerpted from the Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q & A (2010). American Library Association. I don't think we should have books containing "bad words" in our library. Google, Yahoo, and all those other search engines just bring porn into the school. I don't think children should be allowed to read about witches, wizards, or magic. These could be comments made at school board meetings, in parent organizations, or even in your library.

What Are We Protecting Them From? What Are We Protecting Them From? By mandating schools restrict internet access,CIPA and other federal and state legislation intendto guard students' safety online-but all they maybe doing is keeping vital educationaltechnology out of the classroom. On June 23, 2003, in writing the Supreme Court'smajority opinion that upheld the constitutionality of theChildren's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), the late ChiefJustice William Rehnquist shot down concerns that thelaw's mandated internet filters would block users ofpublic library computers from visiting unobjectionablewebsites.

"Any such concerns are dispelledby the ease with which patrons mayhave the filtering software disabled," Rehnquistwrote. "When a patron encountersa blocked site, he need only ask alibrarian to unblock it. " The ease with which patrons may have the filtering software disabled. Oh really? Banned Website Awareness Day: Why schools’ efforts to block the Internet are so lame. Photo by Shutterstock. Filtering and the First Amendment. Mr. Administrator, Tear Down This Firewall! - Education Week Teacher. BWAD: How to be a Ninja Warrior Filter Fighter! Life is not filtered.