The Federal Communications Commission June 28 announced it was adopting interim measures to bring its enforcement of the Children's Internet Protection Act into line with a recent U.S. Appeals Court decision
The Federal Communications Commission June 28 announced it was adopting interim measures to bring its enforcement of the Children's Internet Protection Act into line with a recent U.S. Appeals Court decision that blocked enforcement of parts of the law against libraries.
In May, the U.S. Appeals Court in Philadelphia ruled that the provision in the law that required libraries to install a technology protection measure on their computers that accessed the Internet was an unconstitutional restriction on the free speech rights of adults. However, the library community did not challenge another part of CIPA, the Neighborhood Children's Internet Protection Act, that requires schools and libraries receiving E-rate discounts for Internet access or internal connections to adopt an Internet safety policy.
The FCC said it would suspend enforcement of the law's filtering requirements until the Supreme Court rules on an appeal that the Justice Department plans to file. In the meantime, the FCC said it needed to provided guidance to the Schools and Libraries Division on how to process applications filed on behalf of libraries:
- The FCC said that in cases where libraries had not yet filed a Form 486 for Funding Year 2001 (which ended June 30, 2002) because of the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the litigation, that it would accept that form within 120 days of its order (that is, postmarked by October 25, 2002) or 120 days of the date of a funding commitment letter, whichever date was later.
- If a library had filed its Form 486 after the initial October 28, 2001, deadline for CIPA compliance, the FCC said it would not be penalized for failure to meet that deadline, but would still be subject to the existing requirements that Forms 486 be submitted within 120 days of the service start date or receipt of a funding commitment letter.
- If a library had submitted a Form 486 by October 28, 2001, without completing the CIPA certification, the FCC said the SLD should accept the forms and process them without penalty.
Thus, it appeared that a library that actually filed a Form 486 and completed a CIPA certification before June 28, 2002, could still be subject to penalties for failure to meet the SLD's "120-day rule" for processing the Form 486 application, while a library that had done nothing up to now could get another 120 days to complete its paperwork.
In cases where a consortium that had included library members had filed a Form 486 late, the SLD was instructed to deal with its application in a similar manner as outlined above. In cases where a consortia had filed a Form 500 to request that its funding commitment be reduced to exclude library members, the SLD was instructed to give the consortia 120 days in which to request that funding for the library members be restored.
The FCC noted that additional changes in procedures and in the current Form 486 and the Form 479 filed by consortia members might be necessary to carry out the court's decision because of the certification requirements for schools and libraries now differ.
The FCC also noted that although it had been enjoined by enforcing from enforcing the rules against "public" libraries, it would not distinguish between public and private libraries in adjusting its procedures.