What is CIPA?
CIPA, or the Children’s Internet Protection Act, is a federal law enacted in 2000. Under CIPA, no school or library can receive E-rate funding unless it blocks all students from accessing pornography and other content deemed inappropriate for minors as defined by the school district’s Internet Safety Policy. The policy must be presented at a public meeting.
Boiled down, this means that a school district or library must filter pornography and have an Internet Safety Policy order to be eligible for E-rate funding for internet access.
Districts and libraries that do not filter for pornography can still receive E-rate discounts for broadband circuits, voice service (until it is phased out), and all Category 2 expenses. However, a school administrator who did not take technical measures to prevent second graders from being exposed to pornography -- forfeiting E-rate funding for internet access in the process -- might be asked to justify that decision to the school board at a public meeting.
Although school districts are required to filter in order to receive E-rate funding, filtering appliances themselves are not eligible for funding, an omission from the eligibility list that has perplexed innumerable applicants.