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Potential legal challenges to the application of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) in public libraries (09 Feb 2004)
Regardless of personal opinions about the wisdom or validity of filtering Internet content in libraries, the problems that may occur in the implementation of the requirements of CIPA in public libraries should be a concern for both those who support filtering in libraries and those who oppose it. The application of CIPA, as it is written, has significant potential to disrupt the flow of free expression of and access to constitutionally protected speech on the Internet in public libraries for both children and adults - but especially adults. The combination of the terminological insufficiencies of the law, the fallibility and inadequacy of existing filtering products for the purposes of the law, and the difficulties likely to be encountered by librarians in making decisions to disable filters will make the process of implementing CIPA difficult for public libraries and will likely impede the freedom of speech and the access to information for their adult patrons. These same problems with free expression may result in future legal challenges to the application of the law.
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