This paper investigates the impact of filtering software in K-12 schools and school libraries. The Children's Internet Protection Act, or CIPA, requires that public schools and school libraries use filtering technology in order to receive discounted rates on technology. As a result, nearly all public elementary and secondary schools today use filtering technology. While the provisions of CIPA narrowly define the content to be blocked, filters are often set to block much more than is required. Filtering technology is often ineffective, and many unobjectionable sites end up being blocked, including Web 2.0 sites and tools needed to educate students in a 21st century learning environment. Filtering software raises other issues as well, such as First Amendment implications, a possible "digital divide" between students that have unfiltered access to online content at home and those that do not, and the loss of opportunity to educate students on how to be good digital citizens. These issues should be acknowledged and addressed. There are many options available to librarians, educators, administrators, and other stakeholders that can increase students' access to online information and educational tools while still protecting children from inappropriate online content and complying with the requirements of CIPA.

About Author

Jennifer Overaa graduated with honors from Oregon State University, receiving a BS in Business Administration. She also holds a JD from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and has been a member of the California State Bar since 1993. She practiced law for more than a decade in the fields of construction litigation, business litigation, and high tech transactional work. Ms. Overaa is a current MLIS candidate at San Jose State University with an interest in public, academic, and legal librarianship.