U.S. asks Supreme Court to decide whether Internet porn filters can be required


Thursday, June 20th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) _ The United States asked the Supreme Court Thursday to overturn a federal court ruling that prohibits withholding money from public libraries that do not install computer software to block sexually explicit Web sites.

A three-judge panel struck down Congress' third and latest attempt to shield children from Internet porn last month.

The court unanimously found that the Children's Internet Protection Act relies on filtering programs that also block sites on politics, health, science and other topics that should not be suppressed.

``Given the crudeness of filtering technology, any technology protection measure mandated by CIPA will necessarily block access to a substantial amount of speech whose suppression serves no legitimate government interest,'' the judges wrote.

The latest law, signed by President Clinton in 2000, was supposed to go into effect July 1. It would require public libraries receiving federal technology funds to install the filters on their computers or risk losing that aid. Schools and school libraries are still subject to the law.

Conservatives say the ruling ties the hands of parents trying to protect children.

Justice Department lawyers have argued that Internet smut is so pervasive that protections are necessary to keep it away from youngsters, and that the law simply calls for libraries to use the same care in selecting online content that they use for books and magazines.

They also pointed out that libraries could turn down federal funding if they want to provide unfiltered Web access.

The government's court filing names as defendants Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and Robert Martin, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.