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Free Expression and Censorship on the Internet: The CDA and the CIPA. Michael Weiss September 14, 2004. What are the CDA and the CIPA?. CDA = Communications Decency Act Prohibits “patently offensive” sexual material being made available over the internet to anyone under 18

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free expression and censorship on the internet the cda and the cipa

Free Expression and Censorship on the Internet: The CDA and the CIPA

Michael Weiss

September 14, 2004

what are the cda and the cipa
What are the CDA and the CIPA?
  • CDA = Communications Decency Act
    • Prohibits “patently offensive” sexual material being made available over the internet to anyone under 18
    • Aimed at website operators
  • CIPA = Children’s Internet Protection Act
    • Libraries must adopt internet safety policies
    • Libraries must use filtering software
obscenity law is complicated
Obscenity law is complicated
  • Obscenity is illegal, but
    • Pornography is legal, but
      • Child pornography is illegal, but
        • Virtual child pornography is legal
  • Three part “Miller” test for obscenity
    • “Community standards”
    • Different test for minors
history of the cipa
History of the CIPA
  • Signed into law by Clinton, December 21 2000
  • 2nd provision struck down May 30 2002 by 3rd Circuit Court
  • Supreme Court, June 23 2003 overturns decision and upholds CIPA (6 – 3)
problems with filters
Problems with filters
  • “Porn” filters have blocked
    • Knights of Columbus Council
    • California Jewish Community Center
    • Republican National Committee's Web site,
    • Juggling site
    • Health sites devoted to baldness and halitosis
  • Legal definition of obscenity calls for human judgment
some issues in cipa decision
Some issues in CIPA decision
  • Adult patrons can request that filters be turned off
  • Is restricting access similar to choosing which books to get for the library?
  • Penalty for violating CIPA: loss of federal funds
    • “unconstitutional conditions” doctrine