ACLU, Library Group Sue to Stop Child Internet Protection Act
Wetzstein, Cheryl, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Two lawsuits were filed yesterday to block a new law that requires libraries and schools to put anti-pornography filters on computers that children might use.
Many low-income people use the Internet in libraries, and the government "is choking off the free flow of information on the Internet to library patrons who need it most," said Ann Beeson, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, which filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
The ACLU also argued that software filters regularly block "protected speech," such as Web sites for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seventeen magazine, the San Francisco Examiner and even "a map of Disney World."
The ACLU lawsuit and a second one, filed in Philadelphia by the American Library Association and People for the American Way Foundation, seek to block the Children's Internet Protection Act, which is scheduled to go into effect in April.
The new law requires schools and libraries that receive federal funding, including E-rate Internet subsidies, to put filters on all computers that children might use so they can't access child pornography, obscenity or sites the community decides are "harmful to minors." Facilities that don't comply can lose their funding.
At a Capitol Hill news conference in support of the law, Rep. Ernest Istook, Oklahoma Republican, said it was "carefully crafted" to be constitutional.
This is about federal funding rules, not constitutional rights of speech, said Rep. Charles W. "Chip" Pickering Jr., Mississippi Republican.
Recipients of federal highway funds must uphold seat-belt laws and restrictions against drunken driving, he noted.
Likewise, recipients of federal Internet subsidies must abide by rules affecting public safety on the Internet, Mr. …