Senate Passes "CDA II" and "Safe Schools Internet Act"
(July 26, 1998) The U.S. Senate passed the Commerce-Justice-State FY 1999 Appropriations Bill on Thursday, July 23. Attached as amendments were S 1482, which some people call "CDA II," and S 1619, the "Safe Schools Internet Act."
|S 1619 (School Filtering Bill)|
|Summary of S 1619|
|S 1482 (CDA II)|
|Summary of S 1482|
The Senate adopted these two measures quickly and quietly. They were not attached to the appropriations bill until July 21. During the debate over final Senate passage, there was much debate over another amendment, the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, but little was said about other amendments. (See, story on the net gambling bill.)
S 1619, sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), would require schools and libraries receiving "e-rate" subsidies to "install" the blocking software of their choice.
S 1619, and its House counterpart HR 3177, would amend 47 USC 254 to require that elementary and secondary schools, and libraries, receiving federal Internet access subsidies to install blocking software. It provides that "no services may be provided ... (under universal service assistance) ... to any elementary or secondary school, or any library, unless it provides the certification ... that it has ... selected a system for computers with Internet access to filter or block matter deemed to be inappropriate for minors."
However, while the bill requires that schools and libraries "select" and "install" the software, it does not literally require that the software be activated, turned on, or run.
No action has yet been taken on the House bill, HR 3177. It is sponsored by Rep. Bob Franks (R-NJ).
|Hearing on Internet Indecency, 2/10/98.|
|Blocking Bills Introduced in Congress, 2/12/98.|
|Internet Bills Approved by Committee, 3/12/98.|
|Gore on Safe Schools Internet Act, 3/24/98.|
|Istook Bill Requires Net Filters, 7/2/98.|
|Filtering Bill Passes Senate Committee, 7/22/98.|
However, a House appropriations subcommittee has passed a related bill, known as the "Istook Amendment". This bill would require that any elementary or secondary school or public library, that receives federal funds "for the acquisition or operation of any computer that is accessible to minors and that has access to the Internet," to "install software on that computer ... to prevent minors from obtaining access to any obscene information using that computer," and to "ensure that such software is operational whenever that computer is used by minors, except that such software's operation may be temporarily interrupted to permit a minor to have access to information that is not obscene or otherwise unprotected by the Constitution under the direct supervision of an adult ..."
S 1482 is an untitled bill sponsored by Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN). It is a revised version of the Communications Decency Act tailored to overcome Constitutional objections of the Supreme Court. It would amend 47 USC 223 to prevent distribution of material on the world wide web that is "harmful to minors" to persons under 17 years of age. It only applies to the web.
|Summary of Loudoun Case|
|Summary of Livermore Case|
The use of blocking software is already the subject of litigation. A public library in Loudoun County, Virginia which installed blocking software has been sued by residents represented by the ACLU and People for the American Way. Meanwhile, the City of Livermore, California, which decided not to install blocking software, has been sued by a resident seeking to compel the city to use blocking software.