Internet filtering laws receive Senate approval

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate incorporated two bills that could radically change Internet access in schools nationwide in an appropriations bill passed in mid-July.The “Internet School Filtering Act” (formerly S. 1619), introduced by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would require primary and secondary schools to place filtering devices on all school computers to block student access to material deemed “inappropriate to minors.”The second bill (formerly S. 1482), proposed by Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., would amend the Communications Decency Act so individuals who commercially distribute material harmful to minors would be penalized.Nicknamed “CDA 2” or “Senate CDA,” the bill would modify a section of the Communications Decency Act that the Supreme Court struck down in 1997. Coats’ bill would institute penalties of up to six months in jail and a $50,000 fine on individuals found in violation of the law.The federal government would determine the standard of what would be deemed harmful.The bills, which are now provisions in the appropriation bill, must withstand the muster of a joint conference committee where differences between the House and Senate versions are resolved.