May 19, 2022

New Policy Brief From ALA Looks at Effects of Internet Filtering in Public and School Libraries Ten Years After CIPA

This new policy brief was released today by the American Library Association Office of Information Technology Policy (OITP) and ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF).


Fencing Out Knowledge: Impacts of the Children’s Internet Protection Act 10 Years Later
June 2014
Policy Brief #5


Kristen R. Batch
Consultant, OITP


American Library Association Office of Information Tech Policy
American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom

From the Executive Summary

  • To assess the impact of CIPA implementation on libraries, schools, and their users, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) and Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), with support from Google Inc., investigated:
  • the effects of internet filtering in public libraries and schools,
  • the effectiveness of CIPA as a policy solution to protect youth from the proscribed content, and
  •  the broader impact of CIPA on achieving educational and social objectives for the 21st century

Major Findings Discussed in Report

  • Filtering in Libraries Causes Patron Needs to Go Unmet
  • Filtering in Schools Goes Far Beyond the Legal Mandate of CIPA
  • Disproportionate Impact of CIPA
  • Alternatives to Over-filtering: Digital Literacy and Digital Inclusion

ALA Comments

Over-filtering blocks access to legitimate educational resources, and consequently reduces access to information and learning opportunities for students,” said Barbara Stripling, ALA president. For example, some school districts block access to websites containing information about foreign countries, such as China and Iran, even as those websites are required online reading for the Advanced Placement curriculum.

“Today’s over-implementation of internet filtering requirements have not evolved in the past decade to account for the proliferation of online collaborative tools and social networks that allow online students to both consume and produce content,” said Courtney Young, ALA president-elect.

“Filtering hurts poor children the most,” said Young. “These children are the most likely to depend on school and library provided internet access. Other children are likely to have unfiltered internet access at home or through their own mobile devices.” There are 60 million Americans without access to either a home broadband connection or a smartphone.

Direct to Full Text Report (36 Pages; PDF)


On a related note, here’s a new research paper that we shared a link to the other day on infoDOCKET. 

See Also: New Research Article Reports on the Use of Internet Filters in Britain’s Public Libraries (via Library and Information Research)


About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.