April 4th is 404 Day, a nation-wide day of action to call attention to the long-standing problem of Internet censorship in public libraries and public schools.
The MIT Center for Civic Media and the National Coalition Against Censorship is in collaboration with Electronic Frontier Foundation, hosting a digital teach-in with some of the top researchers and librarians working to analyze and push back against the use of Internet filters on library computers.
The day takes a hard look at CIPA, the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which was meant to push for censorship of sites that contained child pornography and obscene or “harmful to minors” images on computers in public libraries and schools in exchange for federal funding.
However, the broad reach of the 2000 law has caused many libraries to opt for over-censoring web content available rather than risk breaking the law. As a result, students and library patrons are being denied access to constitutionally protected websites and resources (think art museums or sites with health and sexual well-being information). In addition, the First Amendment takes a beating as Internet filters can’t make the legal distinction between what’s “harmful” and what’s okay.
As EFF points out, there are a lot of problems not only with the way CIPA is being carried out, but also the institutions that hold themselves accountable to this law. Their article is solid evidence that changes need to be made, which brings us to 404 Day.
Librarians, students and concerned library patrons, as well as anybody who uses the Internet and appreciates accessibility to its content and resources, can take action and raise awareness about banned websites and Internet censorship in libraries:
404 Day: A Day of Action Against Censorship in Libraries
Digital Teach-in with top researchers and librarians
Friday, April 4 at 12:00 p.m. pst | 1:00 mst | 2:00 cst | 3:00 est