Internet Censorship Continues to Evolve

Internet+Censorship+Continues+to+Evolve

Sabrina Abesamis, Opinion Editor

While technology has gradually embedded itself into the curricula of many Palm Beach students, the state of Internet censorship continues to evolve. Recently, new reforms to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) are leading to changes in the way children and teens will be allowed to interact with the Web on school grounds. The additional requirements will put an emphasis on cyber bullying prevention and hopefully increase Internet safety.

The provisions have been met with great acclaim by most experts, especially since past conflicts regarding Internet policy have risen over the years.
One such web blocking occurred against one of this newspaper’s own, Briana Erickson, junior. She was shocked to discover her first article this year had been blocked on our school-sponsored newspaper website.

“I found the censorship was really unnecessary because I was writing a feature on a student nursing puppies,” said Erickson on the blocked article. “There’s nothing inappropriate about that topic.”
Juan Arango, freshman, is frustrated over the restrictions when researching for his debate class. “[The search engine] Lexis Nexis is really good for links and information on public documents and bills, but it’s blocked,” said Arango.

Though some may consider these instances merely flukes within the district filter, others believe the former system is known to sometimes fail the same children it’s trying to protect.
In March 2006, Joe Dellosa, writing for his school newspaper, investigated the school district Internet policies at the time.

“I discovered that the web filter used by the school district blocked access to the websites of many Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender advocacy groups, including GLSEN and PFLAG, while simultaneously allowing access to many right-wing groups’ websites that featured anti-LGBT material,” said Dellosa. “There’s a chance LGBT students who had been bullied or threatened with violence may have tried to seek help online but were told that, sorry, the school district has decided “Gay/Lesbian” websites aren’t appropriate.”

Since then, the reforms to school district policy have come a long way and the recent updates directly address the issues Dellosa mentioned. As of now, most of the formerly blocked LGBT advocacy groups have been unblocked by the district, including the site ItGetsBetter.org which is dedicated to preventing suicide among bullied LGBT youth.

“The new changes will lead to more openness when it comes to web filtering,” said Jim Kelly, an IT specialist for the school district.

As society becomes more dependent on the Internet, the CIPA’s new reforms will hopefully provide the new generation with knowledge of appropriate and responsible behavior on the Web.