Web Filtering and CIPA – What Schools Need to Know

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was enacted by Congress in 2000 to address concerns about children’s access to obscene or harmful content over the Internet.

CIPA imposes certain requirements on schools or libraries that receive discounts for Internet access or internal connections through the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications services and products more affordable for eligible schools and libraries.

In early 2001, the FCC issued rules implementing CIPA and provided updates to those rules in 2011.

For school districts that require government E-rate funding, it is a good idea to revisit the Children’s Internet Protection (CIPA) requirements and guidelines to ensure you are compliant.

CIPA Requirements

In order to comply with CIPA, the protection measures schools implement must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are obscene, contain pornography, or is harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors).

Schools subject to CIPA have two additional certification requirements:

  • Their Internet safety policies must include monitoring the online activities of minors
  • They must provide for educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.

Internet Safety Policy

As part of CIPA compliance, schools are also required to adopt and implement an Internet safety policy addressing:

  • Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet;
  • The safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications;
  • Unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online;
  • Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and
  • Measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.

Certifying CIPA Compliance

Schools subject to CIPA may not receive the discounts offered by the E-rate program unless they certify that they have an Internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures. Schools must certify they are in compliance with CIPA before they can receive E-rate funding.

CIPA-Compliant Content-Aware Web Filtering for Schools

Smoothwall’s content-aware filtering actively assesses the content, context, and construction on each page of a web-based application in real-time. An inappropriate slang word, for example, would easily bypass a basic URL filter because the context is missing. However, Smoothwall Filter’s content-aware capabilities will analyze the entire content and context of the page in real-time to ensure it is appropriately blocked. Content-aware filtering helps schools to go above and beyond CIPA-compliance and gives additional categories to block instances of cyberbullying, drug abuse, sexual, grooming, and violence.

Interested in discussing your school or district’s web filtering needs?
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