Media Release: U.S. Supreme Court Considers Internet Blocking in Libraries
For Immediate Release: Monday, February 10, 2003
Online Policy Group
EFF 2001 Pioneer Award Winner
U.S. Supreme Court Considers Internet Blocking in Libraries
Online Policy Group, Seth Finkelstein Submit Court Brief
San Francisco -
The Online Policy Group (OPG) and software
expert Seth Finkelstein today submitted a brief to the U.S.
Supreme Court supporting a lower court decision that the
Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) places
unconstitutional limitations on free speech of library
patrons by requiring the use of technology protection
measures in libraries receiving certain federal funding or
OPG and Finkelstein's brief, prepared by attorneys Daniel H.
Bromberg, Charles Morse, and Josh Fairfield of the law firm
Jones Day, argues that CIPA's technology protection
requirement forces libraries to use commercial blocking
software. Because blocking software censors speech that
receives full First Amendment protection and may
discriminate against certain viewpoints, OPG and Finkelstein
argue that CIPA should be subject to strict scrutiny.
"Using commercial Internet blocking software to comply with
CIPA, libraries force the political, social, and cultural
biases of software manufacturers with differing community
standards onto library patrons in their own communities,"
said OPG Executive Director Will Doherty. "Especially for
'controversial' topics -- such as politics, medical health,
child abuse, abortion, sexual orientation, and gender
identity -- the biases inherent in Internet blocking
software are unacceptable."
"Censorware is not filtering, it is electronic
book-burning," commented Seth Finkelstein. "It's a
pre-slipped slope denying any privacy, since all reading
must be monitored."
"Technology is no panacea for those who wish to regulate
speech on the Internet," observed Daniel Bromberg. "As CIPA
shows, attempts to regulate speech on the Internet through
purely technological means can pose special dangers to free
The amicus brief from OPG and Finkelstein accompanies the
main legal argument from the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) and other plaintiffs in the U.S. government's appeal
from a decision of a special three-judge panel striking down
the library portion of CIPA on May 31, 2002.
For this media release:
OPG/Finkelstein brief to the U.S. Supreme Court:
ACLU brief to the U.S. Supreme Court:
More on Children's Internet Protection Act:
Seth Finkelstein's website:
American Library Association CIPA information:
The Online Policy Group (OPG) is a nonprofit organization
dedicated to online policy research, outreach, and action on
issues such as access, privacy, and digital defamation. The
organization fulfills its motto of "one Internet with equal
access to all" through projects such as donation-based email
list hosting, web hosting, domain registrations, and now
colocation services. OPG focuses on Internet participants'
civil liberties and human rights, like access, privacy,
safety, and serving schools, libraries, disabled, elderly,
youth, women, and sexual, gender, and ethnic minorities.
Find out more at
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