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FCC Seeks Comments on Proposed E-rate Filtering Rules

The Federal Communications Commission Jan. 23 published a request for comments on a proposal for implementing the filtering requirements that were imposed on E-rate recipients by the recently enacted Children's Internet Protection Act.

Under the law, schools and libraries that receive support for Internet access or internal connections must have an "Internet safety policy" in place that includes the operation of a "technology prevention measure" that bars access to visual depictions that could be considered obscene, child pornography or harmful to minors, if a child is using the computer.

Under the FCC's proposed framework, the requirement would be imposed in Funding Year 4, "the first program year after the effective date" of the law. The FCC proposes to add the required certification to the Form 486 in Year 4, and then to the Form 471 in future funding years. Because the certifications are required under the law to be filed "no later than 120 days after the beginning of the program year," they would be due on or before Oct. 28, 2001.

Although the law permits E-rate applicants to certify that in the first year they are "undertaking actions" to put in place the safety policy and the protection measures, the FCC proposal would not make the distinction. It proposes instead a simple certification that "the recipient complies with all relevant provisions" of the law, or a certification that the requirements do not apply. E-rate applicants who receive support solely for telecommunications services are not subject to the law.

The FCC is accepting comments on its proposal for 15 days after it is published in the Federal Register, and then reply comments for another 22 days.


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