Summary of
Blocking Software Bills
in the 105th Congress

This page summarizes the following bills:

1.  Safe Schools Internet Act of 1998.

Sponsors.  S 1619.  Sen. John McCain (R-AR), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Dan Coats (R-IN), Patty Murray (D-WA).  HR 3177.  Rep. Bob Franks (R-NJ).

Summary.  S. 1619 and H.R. 3177 would amend 47 USC 254 to require that elementary and secondary schools, and libraries, receiving federal Internet access subsidies to "install" blocking software.   It provides that "no services may be provided ... (under universal service assistance) ... to any elementary or secondary school, or any library, unless it provides the certification ... that it has ... selected a system for computers with Internet access to filter or block matter deemed to be inappropriate for minors."  In the case of libraries the software would only have to be installed "on one or more of its computers with Internet access".   Also, "the determination of what matter is inappropriate for minors shall be made by the school, school board, library, ..." and "No agency or instrumentality of the United States Government ... may establish criteria ... (or) review the determination".

While the bill requires that schools and libraries "install" the software, it does not literally require that the software be activated, turned on, or run.

Sen. Conrad Burns has discussed an alternative version, but not formally introduced a bill.  His proposal would require merely that the schools and libraries adopt a policy regarding protecting minors.

Status.  S. 1619 was introduced by Sen. McCain on 2/9/98.   It was attached to the FY 1999 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill on 7/21, and passed the Senate on 7/23.   H.R. 3177 was introduced by Rep. Franks on 2/11/98, and referred to House Commerce Committee.  This bill was not enacted into law in the 105th Congress.

Legislative History with Links to Documents, Stories, and other Materials.

2.  Child Protection Act of 1998.

Sponsor.  Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK).

Summary.  This bill would require that any elementary or secondary school or public library, that receives federal funds "for the acquisition or operation of any computer that is accessible to minors and that has access to the Internet," to "install software on that computer ... to prevent minors from obtaining access to any obscene information using that computer," and to "ensure that such software is operational whenever that computer is used by minors, except that such software's operation may be temporarily interrupted to permit a minor to have access to information that is not obscene or otherwise unprotected by the Constitution under the direct supervision of an adult ..."

Status.  This bill was attached to the FY99 appropriation bill for Labor, HHS, and Education, by the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, and Education, on June 23, 1998.  However, it was not included in the final Omnibus Appropriations Act.  A similar bill is likely to be reintroduced next year.

Legislative History.

Tech Law Journal Stories

Other Resources