Stars by Maxfield Parrish

This section could have been appropriately titled "politics" or "principle." The Children's Internet Protection Act wasn't very popular from the very start. When the bill rode through on a budget bill, the American Library Association and the American Civil Liberties Union jumped on it faster than it takes a child to type in the wrong URL address. Congress foresaw this and prepared for "expedited procedures" in judicial consideration. Perhaps the bill will get booted itself in court, but for now, libraries, schools and citizens must determine whether they agree with the bill and plan to comply.

It's the principle! Both the ALA and ACLU believe that the bill is unconstitutional in that it restricts freedom of speech. Even if the Internet filter that a library chooses only blocked out one measly site, it would still be a restraint on information. Furthermore, adults who used the library computers would be subject to the same restrictions determined for minors.

Eric Starling, a library services supervisor at Alachua County Library's main branch, firmly believes that the CIPA is "stupid." He feels that the fact that the filtering technology is currently inadequate is secondary to the principle of the matter. "It's simply a violation of free speech," he said.

Starling predicts that the directors of his library will decide not to comply with the act based solely on principle, and he estimates the library will lose more than $60,000 in funding for this decision. The E-rate funding was introduced to allow libraries to provide Internet access to citizens who otherwise do not have it.

Starling's library will not have to give up the Internet, however. He says that the extensive funds needed to provide computers and Web access will just come from somewhere else, probably operating cost funds. Luckily, the Alachua County Library can spare a few dollars, but Starling is sure than many small libraries will have to close their doors.

Of course they don't have to. They can comply. But many libraries agree with Eric- it's the principle.


Author Bibliography Awareness Precedent Internet Filters Censorship