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29 Colum. J.L. & Arts 361 (2005-2006)
Library Records Open to Parental Scrutiny: A New Set of Internet Access Controls for Minors

handle is hein.journals/cjla29 and id is 371 raw text is: Library Records Open to Parental Scrutiny: A New Set of
Internet Access Controls for Minors?
Sidne Koenigsberg*
Many parents are nervous about what their children view and discuss via the
internet from computers at home, at school and at the local library.' One approach
to this problem is to limit the availability of online content ex ante through filtering
programs, and to this end the Supreme Court has approved federal funding
conditions that require public libraries to place filtering software on computers that
offer internet access to minors and adults.2      Another possible approach is to
institute programs that help parents monitor and review their children's internet
habits ex post-but could parents ask for and expect to receive a report on their
children's internet activities from local libraries? A nationwide program to provide
parents with access to records of their children's online activity outside the home
has not yet been proposed. However, the potential for such a regime is already in
place as several states allow parents to access their minor children's library records
to see what their children have been reading and, possibly what their children have
*   J.D. Candidate 2006, Columbia University School of Law; B.A., Amherst College, 2003. The
author would like to thank June Besek, Daniel Dex and Steven Shapiro for their helpful comments on
this Note. The author would also like to acknowledge the support of the Kernochan Center for Law,
Media and the Arts and the Robert Blumofe Fellowship which provided funding for a summer internship
at the Office of the General Counsel of The New York Public Library, where some of the research for
this Note began. The views expressed in this Note, however, are solely the author's and do not represent
the views of The New York Public Library.
1.  This paper generally considers the law and policy affecting public libraries, which are used by
adults and minors, as opposed to school libraries, which are primarily intended for minors. School
libraries may be afforded more discretion to make content-based restrictions on students' speech and
right to receive information than public libraries. See Bd. of Educ., Island Trees Union Free Sch. Dist.
No. 26 v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853, 892, 915 (1982) (Burger, C.J. dissenting) (Rehnquist, J., dissenting). For
an examination of school monitoring of student internet use, see Aaron H. Caplan, Public School
Discipline for Creating Uncensored Anonymous Internet Forums, 39 WILLAMETTE L. REV. 93 (2003).
2. See U.S. v. Am. Library Ass'n, 539 U.S. 194 (2003). Congress passed the Children's Internet
Protection Act (CIPA), in part, to prevent minors from obtaining access to material that is harmful to
them and also [t]o address the problems associated with the availability of internet pornography in
public libraries. Id. at 198-99. The Court also considered the advantages and disadvantages of filtering
software as a proposed less discriminatory alternative to the criminal sanctions for communicating
harmful internet material to minors contained in the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the
Children's Online Protection Act (COPA), which were both struck down. See Reno v. Am. Civil
Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997) (striking down provisions of the CDA); Ashcroft v. Am. Civil
Liberties Union, 124 S.Ct. 2783 (2004) (striking down COPA).

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