Children's Internet Protection Act and this Planning Guide

The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2001 . CIPA requires all schools receiving funding through the E-rate program and technology funding through Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to comply with certain requirements. CIPA was enacted to address Congress's concern that "(a)lthough the Internet represents tremendous potential in bringing previously unimaginable education and information opportunities to our nation's children, there are very real risks associated with the use of the Internet." As Congress found, "(p)ornography, including obscene material, child pornography, and indecent material is available on the Internet ."

On April 5, 2001, the Federal Communication Commission issued regulations for the implementation of CIPA . As of the date of this writing, the Department of Education has not yet issued regulations. The Schools and Libraries Division , which is charged with management of the E-rate program has complete information for schools regarding timelines and certifications.

The Basic Requirements

The CIPA statute was a late session merger of two similar statutes that were pending before Congress, the Children's Internet Protection Act and the Neighborhood Children's Internet Protection Act. As a consequence, the statute itself contains several different provisions that have slightly different requirements. The basic requirements are:

  1. Enforce a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes monitoring the online activities of minors and the operation of a technology protection measure that protects against access to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors .

  2. Enforce a policy of Internet safety with respect to adults that includes the operation of a technology protection measure that protects against access to visual depictions that are obscene or child pornography .

  3. Adopt an Internet Safety Plan that addresses the following elements:

    1. Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web.

    2. Safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications.

    3. Unauthorized online access by minors, including "hacking" and other unlawful activities.

    4. Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors.

    5. Measures designed to restrict minors' access to materials harmful to minors .

  4. Provide public notice and hold a public hearing regarding the Internet Safety Plan .

The Planning Guide

This Planning Guide addresses the wide range of issues that districts will have to consider to achieve compliance with CIPA. The primary focus on the Guide is on the substantive issues related to the development of a comprehensive plan to address concerns regarding the safe and responsible use of the Internet by young people. The Guide also presents positive strategies to address concerns related to the use of Technology Protection Measures, most specifically the concern of the prevention of access to appropriate material.

This Planning Guide will not address technical issues of compliance related to filing deadlines, certification requirements, and the like. Information on these issues is readily available from the Schools and Libraries Division.

The entities that must comply with CIPA requirements include public and private schools, districts, and a variety of consortiums. This Planning Guide has been framed in the context of the requirements of a public school district, with authority over individual schools. Other entities, such as private schools, will need to consider the recommendations in the context of their particular situations.

This Guide presents an analysis of some of legal considerations, including liability, copyright, and first amendment issues, in addition to issues related to compliance with CIPA.