The Children's Internet Protection Act, or CIPA, requires schools and libraries that receive E-rate discounts for services beyond telecommunications services to certify that they are enforcing a policy which blocks Internet access to certain content. CIPA outlines the general guidelines for complying with its requirements. The FCC and USAC have implemented policies and procedures related to CIPA.

CIPA's Basic Requirements

Requirement 1: Applicants must have in place an Internet Safety Policy which addresses: a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet; (b) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; (c) unauthorized access, including so-called "hacking," and other unlawful activities by minors online; (d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (e) measures restricting minors' access to materials harmful to them.

Requirement 2: The Internet Safety Policy must include Technology Protection Measures which block or filter Internet access. It must block access to pictures that are "(a) obscene, (b) child pornography, or (c) harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors)."1

Requirement 3: Before adopting the Internet Safety Policy, schools and libraries must provide reasonable notice and hold at least one public hearing or meeting to address the proposal.

Certifications

Applicants certify their compliance status related to CIPA on the FCC Form 486. Applicants who are apply for E-rate funds for the first time are not required to be fully compliant with all of CIPA's provisions. For their first funding year, they can be undertaking actions to become compliant. In the following year, an applicant should be compliant, but may request a waiver of this requirement if its procurement rules prevent making the certifications. In the third and all subsequent years, applicants must be in compliance with CIPA.

Schools and libraries which are members of a consortium identify their CIPA certification status on the FCC Form 479, which is filed with the consortium manager. This is in addition to the certifications they make on Forms 486 for applications on which they are the primary billed entity.

New Certifications Under the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act

New requirements related to CIPA were enacted into law for E-rate applicants receiving discounts for services other than telephone service. The most significant of these requirements is the mandate to include components in the Internet Safety Policy which address "appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response."

To date, the FCC has not released guidance for how this new requirement will be certified by applicants (Funds For Learning presumes it will be added to the other CIPA certifications on the Form 486).


1 - FCC CIPA Consumer Facts