President Bill Clinton signed the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) into law in 2000, requiring schools and libraries to install specific technology that blocks Internet access to visual [not text] depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or harmful to minors.
Advocacy groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union as well as many educators voiced concern that this law would infringe on intellectual freedom and countered that it was far better to teach students to be effective users of information than to "censor" the Internet. Advocacy groups also began investigating whether CIPA affected students' ability to access information they needed for school.
This study explores whether Internet content filters block information secondary students' need to complete Minnesota Academic Standards, and if they do, how teachers and technology administrators react. Professional development in media and information literacy and the extent to which teachers prepare their students in these areas also were examined. Participants for this study were district technology administers and teachers who taught those subject. Data collection included surveys, in-depth interviews, and systematic URL checks.
This study can be used as a baseline to further examine the effect Internet content filtering might have on a students' ability to access information. Additionally, findings also may influence school districts to examine how well their teachers are prepared to teach the media and information literacy skills their students need to be effective users of information.