In case you haven’t been following the issue, the federal government
can’t make up its mind regarding Internet filtering. On the one hand,
government attorneys vigorously argued for Internet filtering
part of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004:
A library’s use of
filtering software to block material covered by CIPA is constitutional.
The district court itself found that filtering software is a reasonably
effective way to block pornographic material, and that such material falls
outside of a public library’s traditional collection boundaries.
The district court’s finding that filtering software erroneously blocks
some constitutionally protected speech does not undermine the reasonableness
of their use.
In contrast, federal attorneys have attacked software filters as burdensome and ineffective in their attempts to defend the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which keeps getting blocked by federal courts:
The court of appeals also erred in holding that filtering software
is a sufficient alternative to COPA’s mandatory screening requirement. Filtering
software is not nearly as effective as COPA’s screening requirement in shielding
minors from commercial domestic pornography on the Web. Filtering software
is voluntary, while COPA’s screening requirement is mandatory. Filtering
software also blocks some sites that are not harmful; it fails to block
some sites that are harmful; it can be expensive for parents to purchase;
and it quickly becomes outdated. Congress also did not view mandatory screening
and blocking software as an either or choice. It mandated screening and
encouraged the use of blocking software as well. That combined approach
is far more effective than the use of voluntary blocking software alone.