ACLU Suit Challenges Internet Blocking Programs. [American Civil Liberties Union].

Article excerpt

A lawsuit will determine if school leaders can evaluate certain Internet blocking programs to determine which program comes closest to meeting their district's needs.

"Current copyright law and blocking software licenses prevent consumers from looking under the hood of the blocking products they buy," says Anne Beeson, litigation director of the American Civil Liberties Union Technology and Liberty Program. Beeson is lead counsel in Edelman v. N2H2 Inc., which was recently filed in federal court in Massachusetts. Software programs such as N2H2 are used to prevent students from accessing inappropriate Web sites.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU contends that Benjamin Edelman, a computer researcher, has First Amendment and "fair use" rights to examine and share the full list of sites contained in N2H2 Internet blocking program. The lawsuit challenges provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 19 9 8 and the non-negotiable N2H2 license, which restricts buyers from accessing the list of blocked sites.

For schools to receive certain federal funds and discounts, such as E-rate, the Children's Internet Protection Act requires schools to use blocking software to restrict student access to Web sites that are "harmful to minors. …