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CongressLine - Issues in the Spotlight - Internet Filtering and Internet Gambling

By Carol M. Morrissey, Published on February 1, 2001

Carol M. Morrissey has been a Legislative Specialist in Washington, D.C. for 15 years. She is a lawyer and legislative expert, and has authored a Congressional update column for LLRX.com since 1996.

 

Link to the LLRX.com Newstand's  CongressLine Links for regular updates on state and federal legislation relating to technology and the Web.

[Editor's Note: This article was updated on February 9, 2001]

Internet Filtering

On December 21, 2000, President Clinton signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2001 (P.L. 106 554, 114 Stat. 2763). Unbeknownst to many, including those who had been doggedly monitoring the issue, Congress slipped the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) into the mammoth appropriations bill. (The text of CIPA can be accessed at: http://www.cdt.org/legislation/106th/speech/001218cipa.pdf.) CIPA requires all public libraries and schools to formulate Internet safety policies and to adopt technology that blocks visual depictions "harmful to minors." Institutions in violation of the Act will be barred from receiving valuable federal grant funds, such as the "E-Rate" Program. These funds enable many libraries and schools to provide technology to their communities that they cannot otherwise afford.

The American Civil Liberties Union immediately announced that it would file a legal challenge to CIPA, calling the Act "a mandated censorship system by the federal government" and the American Association of Libraries (ALA) executive board voted in January to initiate legal action as well. The ACLU, the ALA and other organizations object not only to the free speech issues, but also point to the clumsiness of filtering technology as a major problem with the legislation. Even the best filtering software has been shown to allow so called "objectionable" materials through while blocking "acceptable" information. (The ACLU press release can be found at: http://www.aclu.org/news/2000/n121800a.html. The ALA press release is at :http://www.ala.org/news/v7n1/cipa.html. The ALA also has a highly informative CIPA page which can be found at: http://www.ala.org/cipa/.)

The Federal Communications Commission, the federal agency charged with promulgating regulations to implement the new law, adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Jan. 22, 2001. The notice allows 15 days in which to file comments on the Proposed Rule. The ALA has objected to the brevity of the comment period, noting that it does not allow interested parties sufficient time to respond. ( The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can be found at: http://www.ala.org/cipa/FCCRulemaking.pdf.)

The States

Meanwhile, the states have been adopting filtering legislation of their own. The Governor of the State of Utah signed into law HB 157, Online Access at Public Libraries (Chapter 136) on March 13, 2000. Like CIPA, Utah HB 157 withholds state funding from libraries that fail to implement and enforce policies protecting minors from Internet sites which contain "obscene material." Notably, the law does not require the use of filtering technology, allowing libraries some independence in formulating and implementing their policies. The law is effective as of July 1, 2001, but rules issued under the law may be in place by the end of January 2001. (The text of HB 157 can be accessed at: http://www.le.state.ut.us/~2000/bills/hbillenr/HB0157.pdf.)

Below is a compilation of pending state Internet filtering legislation. Please note that all of the bills were introduced in January 2001, unless indicated otherwise.

Arkansas

The Arkansas Internet Filtering bill, HB 1003, was passed by the Arkansas 
House of Representative on Feb. 7, 2001 and is now pending before the 
Senate Committee on Technology and Legislative Affairs. The text of the 
bill as passed the House (Engrossed) can be found at:
http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/ftproot/bills/2001/htm/HB1003.pdf.

Hawaii

AB 126 - Limits Children's Access to Pornography on the Internet in Public Schools and Public Libraries: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/bills/hb126_.htm

SB 142 - Limits Children's Access to Pornography on the Internet in Public Schools and Public Libraries: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/bills/sb142_.htm

Indiana

HB 1042 - Public Computer Access to Minors: http://www.state.in.us:80/legislative/bills/2001/IN/IN1793.1.html

Mississippi

HB 393 - Internet Filtering on Computers in Public Schools and Libraries: ftp://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/2001/pdf/HB/0300-0399/HB0393IN.pdf

Missouri

HB 407 - Regulating Internet Access in Public Libraries: http://www.house.state.mo.us/bills01/biltxt01/intro01/HB0407I.htm

SB 42 - Regulating Internet Access in Public Libraries: http://www.senate.state.mo.us/01info/billtext/intro/SB042.htm

Montana

HB 0262 – An Act Adopting the Public Schools Internet Protection Act: http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/2001/billhtml/HB0262.htm

SB 0139 – An Act Requiring Public Libraries to Establish and Enforce an Internet Use Policy: http://data.opi.state.mt.us/bills/2001/billhtml/SB0139.htm

New Jersey (2000-2001 session)

AB 1464 - Student Internet Access Act (Jan. 11, 2000): http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2000/Bills/a1500/1464_i1.pdf

AB 2196 - Student Internet Access Act (March 6, 2000): http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2000/Bills/a2500/2196_i1.pdf

Internet Gambling

Legislation to ban Internet gambling was passed by the U.S. Senate in 1999 (S. 692, Internet Gambling Prohibition Act 1999) and very nearly passed the House of Representatives in July 2000 (H.R. 3125, Internet Gambling Prohibition Act 1999). The sticking point in the House at the time was the issue of liability limitations for Internet Service Providers. The sponsors of the legislation from the 106th Congress, Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) and Sen. Kyl (R-AZ), have both voiced an interest in reintroducing Internet gambling legislation this session. They are, however, looking to the new Administration for some guidance before they move forward with any proposals. (For the text and other information on H.R. 3125, please go to: http://www.house.gov/goodlatte/netgambling.htm. The text of S. 692 can be found here, and for a summary of Sen. Kyl’s 1999 Internet Gambling Initiative, please go to: http://www.senate.gov/~kyl/i_crime.htm.)

The States 

There are currently several Internet gambling proposals circulating among the states, although not all of them would ban online gambling. Two New Jersey lawmakers (Assemblyman Anthony Impreveduto and Assemblyman Neil M. Cohen) introduced a bill on Jan. 23, 2001 (AB 3150) which would authorize the Casino Control Commission to permit Atlantic City casinos to offer online customers access to the same games played on their premises. All players must be over 21 years of age and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Casino Control Commission must approve the software. Its proponents say the legislation would create a safer, more regulated venue ("safe haven", as it were) for online gamblers, as opposed to the largely unregulated offshore sites currently available. (For the text of AB 3150, Online Casino Gambling, please go to: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2000/Bills/a3500/3150_i1.pdf.)

Below you will find a compilation of current state legislation on Internet gambling. Interestingly enough, among the bills is another measure from New Jersey urging the federal government to regulate the online gambling industry.

Indiana

HB 1042 Internet Gambling Prohibition: http://www.state.in.us:80/legislative/bills/2001/IN/IN1042.1.html

Iowa

House File 13 (H.J. 22): An Act Prohibiting the Use of the Internet for the Purpose of Conducting or Participating in a Lottery, Bookmaking, or Gaming, or for a Related Gambling Purpose.

New Jersey

S.R. 48 Resolution Urging the US Congress to Regulate Internet Gambling: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2000/Bills/sr/48_i1.pdf