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Often, it is because the institutions and individuals responsible for implementing these policies misunderstand or misinterpret CIPA and the Supreme Court decision upholding the law.
Among these misunderstandings is a belief that an institution will lose all federal funding if it does not block all potentially inappropriate sites to the fullest extent practicable, or that the Supreme Court decision authorized mandatory filtering for adults and youths alike.
Debate over filtering became muted as libraries receiving e-rate funds moved to comply with CIPA’s mandates.
While researchers counted the number of libraries and schools using filters, little inquiry was made into how institutions were implementing CIPA or how filtering was affecting library users.
Recent court filings, news reports, and online posts, however, have begun to shine a spotlight on libraries’ filtering policies and practices.
According to legal complaints, some libraries are denying users access to websites that discuss Wicca and Native American spirituality; blacklisting websites that affirm the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities while whitelisting sites that advocate against gay rights and promote “ex-gay” ministries; and refusing to unblock webpages that deal with youth tobacco use, art galleries, blogs, and firearms.
In some cases these are encouraged or required by the state and used by state agencies.
In others they are voluntarily implemented by private operators (e.g., internet service providers).
Why are we seeing more and more instances where public libraries and schools are actively engaged in censoring online information, despite the library profession’s commitment to intellectual freedom, First Amendment rights, and free and open access to information?
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet.
Individuals and groups routinely use the Internet, including e-mail, to express a wide range of views.
However, in 2014, the United States was added to Reporters Without Borders (RWB)'s list of "Enemies of the Internet", a group of countries with the highest level of Internet censorship and surveillance. Nevertheless, the Internet in the United States is highly regulated, supported by a complex set of legally binding and privately mediated mechanisms.
After a decade and a half of ongoing contentious debate over content regulation, the country is still very far from reaching political consensus on the acceptable limits of free speech and the best means of protecting minors and policing illegal activity on the Internet.
Congress added the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and the Neighborhood Children’s Internet Protection Act (NCIPA) to a major spending bill (H. The acts place restrictions on the use of funding for Internet access 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.