Library DrawingThe CONNector

January 2001Volume 3 Number 1

Congress Passes Appropriations Bill
Containing Filtering Mandates

A new federal law requiring libraries and schools that receive federal funding for Internet access to install filtering software was included in the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill (H.R. 4577) passed by Congress on December 15, 2001. The legislation mandates a "technology protection measure" to block online access to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors. A provision allows administrators or supervisors to disable the filter for adults conducting "bone fide research or other lawful purposes." The legislation also requires libraries to have an Internet-use policy and hold at least one public hearing on the policy. State Librarian Kendall Wiggin said that the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, the American Library Association, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services are working to understand the law and its implications for libraries and library funding. Mr. Wiggin called the action very disturbing and said that libraries need to be very vigilant. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced December 19 that it would fight the law in court. ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Chris Hansen said that "This is the first time since the development of the local, free public library in the 19th century that the federal government has sought to require censorship in every single town and hamlet in America." "The control of public libraries has always been a local matter and it should remain that way," said Mr. Wiggin. Last year the State Library's Division of Library Development produced and distributed to libraries the Internet Emergency Tool Kit. The Toolkit provides Connecticut trustees and librarians with a starting point with information on professional ethics, policies, filtering, children's issues, and dealing with the press. The Toolkit is available online. The filtering mandate takes effect 120 days after the bill's passage, about mid-April 2001.

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