Supreme Court Upholds Internet Filter Law; Opponents Say Some Health, Family Planning Information Blocked
The Supreme Court yesterday upheld 6-3 a lower-court decision that said that the Children's Internet Protection Act -- which requires public libraries that receive federal funding to put anti-pornography Internet filters on their computers or lose their funding -- does not violate the First Amendment, the Washington Post reports. In the suit, originally filed in December 2000 after the law took effect, the American Library Association and a group of Internet users and Web sites claimed that filtering software was "so imprecise" that it blocks access to constitutionally protected sexual material, including medical information. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that filters set at the least restrictive level block 87% of pornography and 1.4% of general health sites (Lane, Washington Post, 6/24). The study, published in the Dec. 11, 2002, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, also found that the programs blocked a "much higher" percentage of sexual health sites -- 9% at the least restrictive setting. The study tested six popular Internet filtering programs at three different settings -- "least," "intermediate" and "most" restrictive. Programs set at the most restrictive setting blocked nearly 25% of general health sites and 50% of sexual health sites (California Healthline, 12/11/02).
The following broadcast programs reported on the Supreme Court ruling:
- NBC's "Nightly News": The segment includes comments from Carol Brey-Casiano of the ALA, Internet content filter manufacturer David Burt and Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice (Hager, "Nightly News," NBC, 6/23). The full segment is available online in Windows Media.
- NPR's "All Things Considered": The segment includes comments from David Bird, a former librarian who now works for Internet filter producer N2H2; Chris Hanson of the American Civil Liberties Union; and Emily Sheketoff, ALA executive director (Abramson, "All Things Considered," NPR, 6/23). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- NPR's "Morning Edition": The segment reports on the reactions of San Francisco librarians and library patrons to the ruling (Korry, "Morning Edition," NPR, 6/24). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- PBS' "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer": Host Jim Lehrer discusses the case with Jan Crawford Greenburg of the Chicago Tribune (Lehrer, "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," PBS, 6/23). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.