Remarks on CIPA Tuesday, March 20th in Philadelphia
John W. Berry, President-elect of the American
Library Association writes:
\"here are my remarks to the press in Philadelphia on
Tuesday; The events in both New York City and Philadelphia were well
attended by print, radio and tv media. A counter press conference by
CIPA proponents took place yesterday afternoon in Washington, D.C.
See various coverage at these sites:\"
Media coverage at
Remarks from the CIPA Press Conference follow....
CIPA Press Conference
Tuesday, March 20, 2001
Philadelphia City Institute Library
Good morning. I am John W. Berry, President-elect of the American
Library Association and I\'ll moderate this morning\'s press
conference. We\'ll proceed this way. Each participant will make a
short statement addressing a different aspect of this morning\'s court
filing; when all speakers have finished, we\'ll open things up for
Let me introduce my colleagues here at the podium. Theresa Chmara is
an attorney in the Washington D.C. office of Jenner and Block; Ms.
Chmara prepared the filing on behalf of ALA and its co-plaintiffs.
Elliot Mincberg will speak on behalf of The People for the American
Way. Iris Newman is President of the Friends of the Library,
Philadelphia City Institute Library and William R. Gordon is
Executive Director of the 61,000 member American Library Association
headquartered in Chicago.
On Christmas day, 1820, a 77-year old Thomas Jefferson wrote these words from
Monticello to his friend Thomas Ritchie \"But I am far from presuming
to direct the reading of my fellow citizens, who are good enough
judges themselves of what is worthy of their reading.\"
It is appropriate that we assemble here in Philadelphia, the Founders
city, to reaffirm our support for the constitutional rights of all
Americans to \"be good enough judges themselves of what is worthy of
their reading\" or of their religious practice, or of their speaking.
This morning, the American Library Association with the Freedom to
Read Foundation and 9 other plaintiffs, filed a complaint in the
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
challenging the Children\'s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) signed into
law on December 21st of last year.
Former President Clinton, upon signing the funding bill that included
CIPA as a \'rider,\' expressed his disappointment with the legislation:
\"I believe that local development of an Internet-acceptable use plan
is a more effective solution than mandatory filtering for ensuring
comprehensive protection while meeting the diverse needs of local
schools and libraries.\"
Let us be clear about several things:
* This act imposes unprecedented, sweeping Federal speech
restrictions on public libraries across the nation.
* Filters are contrary to the mission of the public library,
which is to provide access to the broadest range of information for a
community of diverse individuals. Filters block access to critical,
constitutionally protected speech related to many subject areas.
Filters have been shown to block access to medical information,
political information and information related to the arts and
* Librarians care deeply about children. Libraries already
have policies and programs to ensure children have an enriching and
safe online experience. More than 95 percent of public libraries
have Internet-use policies that were created with community input and
local control, and they offer classes on how to use the Internet to
get good information.
In our libraries, we find kids use the Internet the same way they use
other library services. They work on homework assignments, read
about sports, music and other interests, and communicate with their
friends. The vast majority of children and adults continue to use
the library responsibly and appropriately.
The American Library Association believes strongly that the
Children\'s Internet Protection Act is unconstitutional. The filtering
mandate imposed by Congress is unworkable in the context of a public
institution because it restricts access to constitutionally protected
speech on the users served by libraries. No filtering or blocking
technology exists that blocks access only to speech that is obscene,
child pornography or harmful to minors. And no filtering technology
protects children from all objectionable materials. many of you will
have seen the March issue of Consumer Reports evaluating several
filtering software products; the best of the products failed to block
one objectionable site in five.
We\'re concerned that filters give parents a false sense of security
that their children are protected when they are not. Not all
problems brought on by transformative technological innovation, like
the internet, have technological solutions, at least in the short
term. We believe that education is more effective than filters--kids
need to make good decisions about what they read and view, no matter
where they are. To be sure, this is a collaborative effort between
parents, teachers, librarians and many others.
The Children\'s Internet Protection Act is a misnomer. The
legislation does not strictly limit access for minors, but for adults
and all Internet users in a library.
And finally, the act allows for unblocking specific websites if a
user can demonstrate a \'bona fide research or other lawful purpose\'--
both of which are left undefined.we do not believe that library staff
should be put in the position of deciding what is \"legitimate\' or
\'objectionable\' on a case-by-case basis.
CIPA is, in short, unworkable and fundamentally misguided..