WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an effort that could restrictstudents’ Internet access, a New York congressman introduced abill last month to restrict anonymous e-mail and Web browsingfrom many public libraries and schools.
The vaguely worded bill, proposed by Republican Rep. FelixGrucci, would require schools and libraries that receive federalsubsidies to install filtering software to restrict anonymouse-mailing and Internet access.
Grucci spokesman Kevin Molloy said the purpose of the billwas to crack down on what he calls "terrorist" groupsthat recruit children through anonymous e-mail, hence the bill’stitle, "The Who is E-mailing Our Kids Act." Molloy saidtwo groups in particular, the Environmental Liberation Front andthe Animal Liberation Front, have been linked to several incidentsof vandalism and arson in Grucci’s district.
Molloy declined to elaborate what types of activity would bebanned on school and library computers under the proposal, onlysaying it would restrict the use of "anonymizers." Thebill’s language, however, would require restrictions on the useof Web-based e-mail systems, such as Hotmail or Yahoo!, as wellas require students and library users to register to browse theWeb.
If adopted, libraries and schools that fail to implement thefilters could stand to lose their share of more than $2.1 billionin federal technology subsidies known as "e-rate" funding.
American Library Association spokesman Frank DiFulvio saidthe plan has not gained much support in committee.
"We don’t think it’s going to go anywhere," DiFulviosaid. "We’re not really concerned about it."
The ALA is currently fighting the Children’s Internet ProtectionAct, a law passed last December that requires schools and librariesto use Internet filters to screen out inappropriate Web pages.DiFulvio said he would be more wary if Grucci’s bill was an attemptto build on CHIPA.
"We would be concerned if it was the start of somethingbigger," he said.
The text of HR 1846 is available at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c107:H.R.1846: