Filter Bill Stalled in Illinois Legislature
Norman Oder -- Library Journal, 06/05/2007
In Illinois, a proposed state version of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which would tie public library filtering to the receipt of state library aid, has stalled and seems unlikely to pass in the current session. House Bill 1727 passed the House 63-51 on May 2, and led to a vigorous lobbying effort by Illinois libraries. During a "day of unity" May 14, some libraries implemented filters at full power and others turned off the Internet in protest—which generated criticism from filtering supporters, who said that libraries were denying service to the public.
While the Illinois General Assembly was supposed to have adjourned on May 31, the session will extend until an unknown date to continue legislative business. "We continue to be guardedly optimistic that the filter bill will not get out of [the Senate] Rules Committee and to a substantive committee and to the Senate for a full vote," Bob Doyle, executive director of the Illinois Library Association, told LJ. The legislature will meet again in the fall, in a brief session, and "it could still be hanging around," Doyle said. He attributed the apparent stall to several factors, including librarians’ arguments to legislators that this is an issue of local control. In a Chicago Tribune article, a filtering supporter, Dan Kleinman of Safelibraries.org, said that libraries "won it in a dirty fashion," contending library advocates exaggerated the harm of filters.
The bill would require that minors requesting that the filter be unblocked be supervised by an adult—but would not require (as LJ suggested) the library to provide chaperones for each such request. Like CIPA, it would allow unblocking upon an adult’s request to use the computer for legitimate research or another lawful purpose, though the language does not incorporate the interpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision that libraries not inquire into the reasons for disabling. Also, while CIPA ties filtering to E-rate telecomm discounts, for which only libraries serving low-income communities are eligible, the Illinois bill ties filtering to the receipt of any state library grants.