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Friday, November 15, 2002

Supreme Court to hear net filtering law case

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments for and against the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) (introduced, 1999; passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton, 2000; in effect, 2001). This law, which mandates the installation of internet content filtering software in all publicly-accessible computers in schools and libraries receiving federal funding, was struck down in lower federal court for First Amendment reasons. Additionally, the numerous efficacy problems around filtering software played a role in the court's decision:

...the plaintiffs demonstrated that thousands of Web pages containing protected speech are wrongly blocked by the four leading filtering programs, and these pages represent only a fraction of Web pages wrongly blocked by the programs. The plaintiffs' evidence explained that the problems faced by the manufacturers and vendors of filtering software are legion. The Web is extremely dynamic, with an estimated 1.5 million new pages added every day and the contents of existing Web pages changing very rapidly. The category lists maintained by the blocking programs are considered to be proprietary information, and hence are unavailable to customers or the general public for review, so that public libraries that select categories when implementing filtering software do not really know what they are blocking.

Nevertheless, CIPA advanced on appeal to the Supremes.
Numerous groups, including the ACLU, ALA, EFF, and the Online Policy Group have campaigned to repeal the bill.

(thanks to Steven Kaye)
:: posted by Bryan, 10:41 AM |

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