Libraries and schools who want to take advantage of the substantial technology discounts and grants available under programs such as E-Rate must also follow the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and ensure CIPA compliance so that any children that use devices at their locations to access the Internet are protected.
What is CIPA?
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was signed into law in 2000 with regulations implemented by the FCC in 2001. The goal of the law is to deny access by minors to any unsavory matter while using the Internet in libraries and schools. The three main areas of CIPA compliance which are outlined below are the following:
- CIPA Compliant Internet Safety Policy
- Technology Protection Measure
- Public Notice and Hearing
CIPA Compliant Internet Safety Policy
Organizations must adopt and enforce an official Internet Safety Policy that must specifically address the following issues:
- Denial of access by minors to any inappropriate materials (as designated by local community laws) on the Internet
- Ensuring the safety and security of minors while they use email, chat rooms, or other forms of electronic communication
- Prevention of any “hacking” or other malicious activity by minors
- Prevention of any unauthorized use, disclosure, or dissemination of any personal information related to minors
- Establishment of measures specifically designed to restrict access by minors to any materials deemed potentially harmful to minors
Technology Protection Measure
Using the federal criminal definitions for obscenity and child pornography as well as local community laws defining inappropriate or harmful materials for minors, all organizations seeking CIPA compliance must install specific technology that completely blocks or filters their public Internet access from this harmful content.
Libraries are allowed to set up a process for disabling their technology protection software for adults in certain circumstances. This normally involves the use of a sign-in page where the adult user affirms that they will be using the public computer for necessary research or other lawful purposes. These allowances came about in relation to earlier challenges to the constitutionality of CIPA by organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which objected to any restrictions on Internet use.
Public Notice and Hearing
The administrators of the school or library must hold at least one public hearing and provide reasonable public notice on a proposed technology protection measure and Internet safety policy. If the organization is a private school, public notice refers to their targeted constituency. No additional meetings are necessary even if the policy is amended unless required by the policy or by local or state law.
Main Discount Programs Requiring CIPA Compliance
Libraries and schools that want to take advantage of the following discount or grant programs must fully comply with CIPA.
The E-Rate Program
Since 1997 the Schools and Libraries Program, known popularly as the E-Rate program, has been making telecommunications and information services more affordable and accessible for schools and libraries throughout the country. The program provides discounted (ranging from 20-90 percent depending on need and geographic location) telecommunications, Internet access, and internal connections and is funded by the Universal Service Fund. This program is overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
If the school or library receives the E-Rate discount on any item or service classified under Internet Access or Internal Connections, then they must comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act. However, if the organization is receiving the E-Rate discount on Telecommunications Services (basic phone service, T-1, ISDN, Cable Modem, and DSL) only, then they are exempt from CIPA compliance.
The Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA)
The Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA) provides grants to libraries to facilitate greater access to more information and library services for the public. The Institute of Museum and Library Services administers this program and provides more than $150 million in grants to individual states each year.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) was passed to improve educational outcomes for all students and improve the quality of instruction. The Department of Education administers this program which provides funds under Title III of this Act to purchase computers used to access the Internet or to pay the direct costs related to accessing the Internet.
Libraries and schools must annually register compliance with CIPA to the agency or organization responsible for administering the program they are using. The schools and libraries generally have one year to register compliance after accepting a discount, grant, or other funding.
To take advantage of many IT-related grants and discounts, libraries and schools should consult with a reputable IT Support company like Network Depot to ensure they are fully in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
For questions about compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and any IT-related issues, please contact us here at Network Depot.