The Children’s Internet Protection Act, or CIPA, was enacted in 2000 to address lawmakers’ concerns that federal funds could be used to support the viewing of illegal or harmful material. CIPA applies only to libraries applying for certain types of funding. Libraries applying for E-rate funding in any category but Telecommunications (Internet Access or Internal Connections) must comply with CIPA, as do libraries applying for funding for computers or Internet access through LSTA.
CIPA includes three components:
1. Technology protection measure. This portion of the law requires that all library computers must be filtered, including staff computers. The filter is required to block images (visual depictions only, not words or text) that are classified as (a) obscene, (b) child pornography, or (c) harmful to minors (those 16 and under).
2. Internet Safety Policy. This is a policy regulating Internet access in the library. Sample policies can be found on KDLA’s sample policies page. The second example in the Internet Use Policy contains the language required by CIPA. The policy must address these 5 elements:
- access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet;
- the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications;
- unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online;
- unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and
- measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.
3. Public Hearing. This only needs to be held once, when the CIPA-compliant Internet Safety Policy is first adopted. The hearing requirements are the same for hearings on setting tax rates.
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