Gore Endorses Legislation to Protect School Kids on the Net

(March 24, 1998.)  The prospects for passage of the some sort of bill protecting school children from smut on the net improved when the Vice President announced the Administration's support new legislation on Monday, March 23.  However, the specifics remain uncertain.

Gore's wants legislation "that would require every school and library using the e-rate to develop a plan to protect their schoolchildren from inappropriate content."   However, Gore stopped short of endorsing the Safe Schools Internet Act, S 1619 and HR 3177.  S 1619 would require that elementary and secondary schools, and libraries, receiving federal internet access subsidies install the blocking software of their choice.  Gore also stopped short of endorsing mandating the use of blocking software.  The ACLU and other liberal civil liberties groups oppose the use of blocking software in schools and libraries.

S 1619 is sponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Dan Coats (R-IN).  It was approved by voice vote without any objections by the Senate Commerce Committee on March 12.   (See, Story.)

Gore's press office states that Gore supports "Burns Markey".  Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) has prepared a proposed amendment to S 1619 which would merely require that schools and libraries receiving federal internet subsidies certify to the FCC that they have adopted an appropriate use policy for protecting children.  Such a policy could include use of blocking software, but need not do so.  Sen. Burns has not formally introduced his amendment.

Related Pages Summary of S 1619 and HR 3177 Text of S 1619


Statement of Al Gore.
Re: Safe Schools Internet Act.

Date: March 23, 1998.
Source: Office of Vice President Al Gore.

As we connect every school and classroom to the Internet, we must protect our children from the red-light districts of cyberspace.

That is why the President and I are encouraging Congress to pass legislation that would require every school and library using the e-rate to develop a plan to protect their schoolchildren from inappropriate content. The e-rate is a new federal program that provides as much as $2.25 billion a year to connect schools and libraries to the Internet.

This legislation is not a "one-size-fits-all-approach" that mandates government values in our schools. Instead, our plan will empower schools to make decisions based on local values--protecting children from inappropriate material while also protecting the first amendment values we all hold dear.

We must bring the combined power of parents, teachers, and technology together if we are going to protect our students in a way that will work in every community and reflect the values of each community.

I call on Congress to pass this legislation which protects our children from inappropriate material on the Internet and will do more than ever before to make cyberspace a safe space for our children.