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Jon Pearcy, Staff Writer

We’ve all had that moment. You’re trying to visit a website when suddenly your browser comes up with an error – “IBOSS – Content Restricted”. Momentary frustration follows, before you give up and try another site. Whether you agree with these blockings or not, we all ask the same question. Why?

CIPA, or the Children’s Internet Protection Act, was enacted by Congress in 2000. Under it schools must comply with specific standards in order to receive eRate funding. FHC receives eRate funding, and therefore is “bound by eRate specific rules, or [the school] risks losing funding,” says Forest Hills Director of Technology Susan Bordewyk.

The centerpoint of CIPA is that schools establish an internet safety policy addressing:

  • “Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet;
  • The safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications;
  • Unauthorized access, including so called ‘hacking,’ and other unlawful activities by minors online;
  • Unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and
  • Measure restricting minors’ access to materials harmful to them.”

FHC complies with this through the Acceptable Use and Internet Safety board policy, which Bordewyk says “outlines and defines in further detail the guidelines we follow for allowing access, educating minors, applying filters, and blocking content in Forest Hills.”

The policy expands upon the most vague point of CIPA, “Access by minors to inappropriate matter on the internet,” defining it as “material that does not serve an instructional or educational purpose, and includes, but is not limited to, material that:

  1. is profane, vulgar, lewd, obscene, offensive, indecent, sexually explicit, or threatening;
  2. advocates illegal or dangerous acts;
  3. causes disruption to Forest Hills Public Schools, its employees or students;
  4. advocates violence; or
  5. contains knowingly false, recklessly false, or defamatory information.”

The main way FHC filters out this inappropriate material is through IBOSS, a company whose logo every student is familiar with.

CIPA also requires schools to monitor all minors’ internet activity, which you agree to when you sign the acceptable use agreements at the beginning of the year, stating that “a user has no expectation of privacy when using technology resources.”