The Children's Internet Protection Act was implemented by the U.S. Congress in 2001 to improve children's security while online at school or the library. CIPA applies to any school or library that receives funding for Internet access or networking from the E-Rate Program , an affordable technology program.
Under CIPA, schools and libraries must put into place an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures. Tools must be used to block or filter online access to pictures that are obscene, harmful to minors or child pornography on computers that are used by minors.
In 2008, the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) encouraged Congress to update CIPA so that, as part of their Internet safety policy, schools must teach ethical online behavior, such as discussing appropriate actions to take in instances of cyberbullying and social interactions with others on the Web.
Schools must adopt and enforce a policy to monitor their students' online activities. Policies implemented by schools and libraries that are subject to CIPA must address the following situations:
- Instances of minors accessing inappropriate Web content
- Safety and security measures related to the use of email, chat rooms and other forms of electronic communication by minors
- Unlawful activities by minors, such as hacking
- Unauthorized use of personal information regarding minors
- Restriction of minors' access to harmful content
Policies and technology measures in response to CIPA must be in place before schools and libraries may receive federal funding from the E-Rate Program.
While schools and libraries can take steps to protect children from harmful Web content, no impenetrable methods exist to guarantee an online environment that is one-hundred percent safe and secure. Administrators and staff can work with parents and the community to publicize the policies and collaborate to sensibly address problems when cyber threats slip through the cracks.