ACLU Opposes Internet Censorship in NY Schools

January 13, 2000 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — The New York Civil Liberties Union today criticized the New York City Board of Education for its failure to remove Internet filters that limit city high school students to a level of Internet access fit for kindergardeners.

On November 12, 1999, the Board of Education promised that school personnel would be trained to modify the filter within 30 to 60 days. Even though two months have passed since that promise, the NYCLU said, students trying to do research on the web continue to be frustrated by the recurring message: “Access Denied.”

Although Operation Rescue’s anti-abortion web site remains available to students, the web sites of Planned Parenthood and the New York Times, among many others, are still inaccessible. “Students continue to be the ones who are suffering from the Board’s inaction,” said Norman Siegel, Director of the NYCLU.

Donna Lieberman, Director of the NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Project, added: “Although the Board is able to modify the I-Gear filter centrally so teachers can decide what is educationally appropriate for their students, it continues to impose an arbitrary one size fits all standard on Internet access for their students.”

Siegel urged the Board of Education to “modify the blocking programs so that separate standards apply for elementary, junior high and high school students.” Lieberman added that “regardless of which generic filters are developed by the Board on a system-wide basis, the Board should make it clear that teachers should have the authority to make judgments about what sites are educationally appropriate.”

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