FCC Released CIPA Order

[August 17, 2011] CIPA Order was released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on August 11, 2011.  The Order makes minor revisions and adds the statutory languages from the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act to the existing Commission rules implementing CIPA for the E-rate program. The Order also makes minor corrections to the Commission’s Sixth Report and Order.

Highlights of the FCC CIPA Order:

  • A school’s Internet safety policy must provide for the education for the minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response. 
  • FCC declines to define or interpret “social networking” or “cyberbullying” but adds the definitions of “minor”, “obscene,” and other terms use in the statute.
  • FCC declines to impose rules directing school and library staff when and how to disable technology protection measures to allow for bona fide research or other lawful purpose by an adult.  Determination of such matter is left to the local communities.
  • FCC adds a rule provision to require local determination of what matter is inappropriate for minors.
  • Websites such as Facebook and MySpace are not “harmful to minors” or fall into one of the categories that schools and libraries must block.  This is in response to a situation in which USAC concluded a school violated CIPA requirements for allowing access to these social media sites.

An increasingly important issue that is not covered in this Order involves the potential application of CIPA requirements when a library patron obtains Internet access, which is funded by E-rate, in a school or library with their own portable device.  FCC intends to seek public comments about this in a separate proceeding.