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Internet Filter Law Challenged

On March 20, 2001, two groups filed lawsuits in Philadelphia challenging the constitutionality of the Children's Internet Protection Act. The American Civil Liberties Union and the American Library Association are challenging the new federal law that, as of April 20, requires libraries that receive federal funding to utilize internet filtering software to block material that may be obscene or harmful to minors. Libraries that fail to install the filtering technology could lose federal technology funding.

The groups argue that the law censors information that is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. They maintain that the Internet filters may fail to prevent all offending material from being viewed while allowing reasonable internet web sites to be blocked.

The Children's Internet Protection Act received bipartisan support when it was passed last year (it passed the Senate by a vote of 95-3). Groups defending the law argue that it is an appropriate solution to keeping online pornography away from minors.

The federal lawsuits will more than likely be combined and then will be assigned to a three-judge panel made up of one appellate judge and two district court judges.

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