Can public schools use Internet filters to block students’ access to specific Web sites?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Yes. In 2000, Congress passed the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which requires public schools and public libraries to install a “technology protection measure” and to adopt an Internet-use policy in order to receive federal funds for Internet hookups. Lawsuits were filed challenging the sections of the law dealing with public libraries, but not those pertaining to public schools, and in June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in United States v. American Library Ass’n Inc. that mandatory filtering in public libraries does not violate the First Amendment. School officials can add any Web site they want to their list of blocked sites, but if someone objects to blocking a particular site, administrators must show that doing so furthers the compelling government interest of protecting minors.