Statement by Rep. Bob Franks (R-NJ).
Re: Press conference on Internet filtering software.

Date: March 2, 1999.
Source: Office of Rep. Bob Franks. This document was created by scanning a paper copy, and converting it to HTML.

MARCH 2,1999

The Internet has opened up an exciting world of discovery for our kids. Today, across America, an estimated 11 to 15 million children have access to the Internet. According to the Department of Education, more than half the classrooms in the nation are now connected to the Internet.

Within seconds, our children can find up-to-date information on every conceivable topic they are studying in school.

But this extraordinarily powerful learning tool can also have a dark and threatening side. Pedophiles and other criminals are using the Internet to contact our children in those places where we want to believe they are most secure -- in our homes, our schools and our libraries.

The reality is that materials breeding hate, violence, pornography and even personal danger can be waiting only a few "clicks" away.

Online predators can pose as children, win the confidence of a child and then arrange a meeting with an unsuspecting victim.

In fact, Cyber Angels, a computer savvy affiliate of the Guardian Angels, has documented more than 17,000 Internet sites devoted to child pornography and pedophilia. Moreover, the FBI reports that pornography sites are literally the most frequent accessed sites on the Net.

Despite these concerns, I believe every child in America should have access to this amazing learning tool -- provided we take special precautions.

The Children's Internet Protection Act would require schools and libraries to use filtering technology if they accept federal subsidies to connect to the Internet. Filtering technology -- which many parents have already installed on their home computers -- would keep materials designed only for adults out of the reach of our children.

The concept of placing restrictions on the kind of information available to our children is not new. For generations, schools and libraries have routinely decided what books are appropriate for children to read.

The Children's Internet Protection Act -- would merely require that these institutions exercise the same standard of care when it comes to the latest advances of the Information Age.

While the bill requires schools and libraries to use blocking technology, it leaves it up to the local school district and library board to determine the type of filtering technology to use. It's important that parents and educators in our local communities set their own standards.

With schools and libraries lining up to take advantage of the $1.9 billion in special telecommunications discounts now available from the federal government to connect to the Internet, this legislation is a prudent and necessary step. It will ensure that our children can take advantage of this powerful learning tool without being assaulted by materials that are not only inappropriate, but dangerous for our children.