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Children's Internet Protection Act

President Clinton signed into law the Children's Internet Protection Act on December 21, 2000. That law, attached to the omnibus appropriations law during the last days of the 106th Congress, will require schools and libraries that receive funding under either Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or the Museum and Library Services Act, or that receive universal service discounts for Internet access ("E-rate") to adopt an Internet safety policy incorporating the use of filtering or blocking technology on computers with Internet access.

Section 1721 applies to schools and libraries for computers with Internet access as a condition of receiving discounts from the Universal Service Fund. (Recipients of discounts for basic telephone service are excluded.)

In general, no school or library may receive discounts unless it certifies to the Commission (FCC) that it is enforcing a policy of Internet safety that protects against access, through computers with Internet access, to VISUAL depiction's that are:

  • Obscene;
  • Child Pornography; or
  • Harmful to minors.

It must also certify that it is enforcing the operation of such technology protection measures during any use of such computers by minors. The law is effective for Year 4 (07/01/2001 to 06/30/2002) and takes effect not later than 120 days after the beginning of the funding year and for all future years.

For the first year (for most applicants, Year 4 of the program), they must certify that they are undertaking actions to put into place an Internet safety policy and to procure the technology protection measures. For the second year (for most applicants, Year 5), they must certify that they are in compliance or be ineligible to receive universal service discounts. However, if local procurement requirements impose a delay, applicants may seek a waiver from the FCC and notify the FCC that they will be in compliance by the third year (for most applicants, Year 6). For Year 6, everyone must be in compliance.

Failure to comply means that the applicant must reimburse any funds received while out of compliance (an applicant can remedy the out of compliance by certifying that it is now in compliance).

The FCC must prescribe regulations within 120 days of enactment (by 04/20/2001) and until that date, USAC will not know the exact rules. The FCC has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in order to allow the public to comment and to conclude the process within the required 120 days. The law may be challenged in court, but until the law is overturned or stayed, USAC is obligated to continue to comply with the law.

  Content Last Modified: April 29, 2003