What Are The Laws?
- LocalYour local community might have specific regulations already in place. You’ll have to check your specific area.
- StateSome states have legislation in place already. You can find details about your state here: http://bit.ly/xPCEuW. The list is not complete, but we are working on providing an updated database for you.
- Federal There are a number of federal laws relating to pornography and specifically to filtering in schools and public libraries. See below for more details on these. You can also learn more about federal obscenity laws here: www.WarOnIllegalPornography.com.
Much of the available hard-core adult pornography online is actually illegal
First, one common misconception people have is that pornography is legal and protected by the First Amendment. The truth is that obscenity (hardcore adult pornography) is prohibited under existing Federal laws. These laws prohibit distribution of hardcore, obscene pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite or hotel/motel TV and in sexually oriented businesses and other retail shops. Additionally, it is important to understand that obscenity is not protected by the First Amendment. This has been repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The role of the Federal Government should be, as it has been in the past, to prosecute the major producers and distributors of obscene pornography. However, the U.S. Justice Department is not currently enforcing these laws and for the last 20 years only sporadically enforced them. Thus, illegal, obscene pornography is flooding our nation and the harm is great.
Many people do not understand that obscenity is actually illegal. The American Library Association (ALA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other anti-filtering groups often exploit this common misunderstanding to argue against the use of filters. You should often point out that filters would block obscenity, which is a majority of the hardcore adult pornography accessed on the Internet and likely accessed at your library/school.
For details on federal obscenity laws and U.S. Supreme Court rulings upholding these laws, visit www.WarOnIllegalPornography.com
What is pornography?
The term “pornography” is a generic, not a legal term. As noted by the Supreme Court in the landmark 1973 obscenity case, Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15, 20, n.2, the term: “Pornography” derives from the Greek (harlot, and graphos, writing). The word now means “1: a description of prostitutes or prostitution 2. a depiction (as in a writing or painting) of licentiousness or lewdness: a portrayal of erotic behavior designed to cause sexual excitement.” Webster’s Third New International Dictionary [Unabridged 1969]…
What is obscenity?
The term “obscenity” is a legal term, and in Miller v. California, supra the Supreme Court established a three-pronged test for determining whether a “work” (i.e., material or a performance) is obscene and therefore unprotected by the First Amendment. To be obscene, a judge and/or a jury must determine:
First, that the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; AND second, that the work depicts or describes in a patently offensive way, as measured by contemporary community standards, “hardcore” sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable law; AND third, that a reasonable person would find that the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political and scientific value. SIDE NOTE: Typical “hardcore pornography” (e.g., a website, DVD or magazine) consists of little if anything more than one depiction of hardcore sex after the other (i.e., it’s “wall-to-wall” sex).
Children’s Internet Protection Act
Additionally, it is important to note that a specific law pertaining to libraries and schools regarding the Internet was passed by Congress in 2000 and was found to be constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. The ALA and the ACLU commonly misinterpret this law and disseminate misleading information to libraries and schools regarding their rights to place filters on computers. You will likely face this.
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) is a federal law enacted by Congress to address concerns about access to offensive content over the Internet on school and library computers. CIPA imposes certain types of requirements on any school or library that receives funding for Internet access or internal connections from the E-rate program – a program that makes certain communications technology more affordable for eligible schools and libraries. In early 2001, the FCC issued rules implementing CIPA.
What CIPA Requires
- Schools and libraries 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. The protection measures must block or filter Internet access to pictures that are: (a) obscene, (b) child pornography, or (c) harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors). Before adopting this Internet safety policy, schools and libraries must provide reasonable notice and hold at least one public hearing or meeting to address the proposal.
- Schools subject to CIPA are required to adopt and enforce a policy to monitor online activities of minors.
- Schools and libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement an Internet safety policy addressing: (a) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet; (b) the safety and security of minors when using electonic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications; (c) unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online; (d) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and (e) measures restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.
Opposition to CIPA:
In 2001, the ALA and the ACLU challenged the law on the grounds that the law required libraries to unconstitutionally block access to constitutionally protected information on the Internet. They specifically argued that “no filtering software successfully differentiates constitutionally protected speech from illegal speech on the Internet.” In 2003, upon appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the law was upheld as constitutional and that it was permissible to install filters on all school and library computers, and further held that it was constitutional to mandate libraries receiving specific funding to have filters installs.
The ALA and ACLU often argue that it is against a person’s First Amendment rights to have to ask a librarian to remove a filter for a desired search. However, this is exactly what the High Court said was sufficient in instances where an individual wanted to access material blocked by a filter. Adults may ask the librarian to unblock material. This is an important added barrier to individuals viewing indecent material in our schools and libraries. The mere need to ask would deter most individuals from attempting to view such material, and the requests would largely remain for material that is reasonable or for a specific purpose other than gratifying one’s personal desire to view porn.