IT: Online Policy Group, Seth Finkelstein Submit Court Brief

Seth Finkelstein
Mon, 10 Feb 2003 03:00:09 -0500

Media Release: U.S. Supreme Court Considers Internet Blocking in Libraries

For Immediate Release: Monday, February 10, 2003 


Will Doherty 
      Executive Director 
      Online Policy Group 

Seth Finkelstein 
      EFF 2001 Pioneer Award Winner 

Daniel Bromberg 
      Jones Day 

U.S. Supreme Court Considers Internet Blocking in Libraries

Online Policy Group, Seth Finkelstein Submit Court Brief

San Francisco - The Online Policy Group (OPG) and software expert
Seth Finkelstein today submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court
supporting a lower court decision that the Children's Internet
Protection Act (CIPA) places unconstitutional limitations on free
speech of library patrons by requiring the use of technology protection
measures in libraries receiving certain federal funding or discounts.

OPG and Finkelstein's brief, prepared by attorneys Daniel H. Bromberg,
Charles Morse, and Josh Fairfield of the law firm Jones Day, argues
that CIPA's technology protection requirement forces libraries to use
commercial blocking software. Because blocking software censors speech
that receives full First Amendment protection and may discriminate
against certain viewpoints, OPG and Finkelstein argue that CIPA should
be subject to strict scrutiny.

"Using commercial Internet blocking software to comply with CIPA,
libraries force the political, social, and cultural biases of software
manufacturers with differing community standards onto library patrons
in their own communities," said OPG Executive Director Will Doherty.
"Especially for 'controversial' topics -- such as politics, medical
health, child abuse, abortion, sexual orientation, and gender identity
-- the biases inherent in Internet blocking software are unacceptable."

"Censorware is not filtering, it is electronic book-burning,"
commented Seth Finkelstein. "It's a pre-slipped slope denying any
privacy, since all reading must be monitored."

"Technology is no panacea for those who wish to regulate speech on the
Internet," observed Daniel Bromberg. "As CIPA shows, attempts to
regulate speech on the Internet through purely technological means can
pose special dangers to free speech."

The amicus brief from OPG and Finkelstein accompanies the main legal
argument from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other
plaintiffs in the U.S. government's appeal from a decision of a
special three-judge panel striking down the library portion of CIPA on
May 31, 2002.

For this media release:

OPG/Finkelstein brief to the U.S. Supreme Court:

ACLU brief to the U.S. Supreme Court:

More on Children's Internet Protection Act:

Seth Finkelstein's website:

About OPG:

The Online Policy Group (OPG) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to
online policy research, outreach, and action on issues such as access,
privacy, and digital defamation. The organization fulfills its motto of
"one Internet with equal access to all" through projects such as
donation-based email list hosting, web hosting, domain registrations, and
now colocation services. OPG focuses on Internet participants' civil
liberties and human rights, like access, privacy, safety, and serving
schools, libraries, disabled, elderly, youth, women, and sexual, gender,
and ethnic minorities. Find out more at

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