If you provide wireless Internet access for students at your school, you must install a web content WiFi filter for CIPA compliance in order to qualify for E-rate discounts. Libraries that accept Library Services and Technology Act grants or those that choose to apply for E-rate discounts must also comply with CIPA requirements.
CIPA requires the Internet to be filtered to protect minors from harmful website content, such as imagery of a sexually graphic nature.
Not all libraries apply for government discounts under the E-rate program, although the majority of public schools and many private schools do and must therefore have CIPA-compliance certification. Each year, CIPA-covered educational institutions must certify they are compliant and must be able to demonstrate that they have Internet filtering solutions in place for all Internet-enabled computers. If a WiFi network has been implemented, it is also necessary to have a web content WiFi filter for CIPA compliance.
In addition to CIPA, at least twenty-four states have introduced legislation requiring publicly-funded schools to control access to Internet content via a web filter or similar mechanism. In some jurisdictions, entire districts have implemented a web content WiFi filter for CIPA compliance even if the individual schools were not intending to apply for E-rate discounts.
Children’s Internet Protection Act Internet Filtering Requirements
The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was signed into law on December 21, 2000, with the U.S. Supreme Court finding the law constitutional on June 23, 2003. The law requires all CIPA-covered institutions to implement a “technology protection measure” to prevent sexual images from being displayed on Internet-enabled computers. Specifically, CIPA requires the following content to be blocked.
Images which are:
- depict child pornography; or
- could be harmful to minors
A web content filter is only required to block images from being displayed. Images include graphics, photographs, illustrations and cartoons, animated GIFs, and video content. Text is not covered by CIPA, even if of a sexual nature.
Child pornography is self-explanatory; however, imagery that is obscene or harmful to minors requires further explanation. CIPA takes the definition of “obscene” to be images that are “utterly without socially redeeming value,” as defined in the landmark United States Supreme Court case, Miller v. California (1973).
The definition in CIPA is:
Internet content filtering must be organization-wide and must be applied to all computers used to access the Internet, whether access is required by minors or adults. In the case of the latter, it is possible for content filters to be switched off temporarily to enable adults to conduct “bona fide research” or access otherwise prohibited material for lawful purposes.
Web content filtering can take place at any one of three levels:
- Web filtering at the ISP level
- Locally on all Internet-enabled networked computers
- Applied to each individual Internet-enabled computer
Additional CIPA Requirements for K12 Schools
In addition to web content filtering, K12 schools are required to adopt an Internet safety policy in order to comply with CIPA regulations. The Internet safety policy must address access to the Internet, safety when communicating electronically, prevent unauthorized accessing of the Internet, restrict access to harmful material, and prohibit the disclosure of personally identifiable information.
Schools must educate minors about accessing the Internet safely in accordance with the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act. Education must cover issues such as cyberbullying, the use of chatrooms, and social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Minors must be educated on responsible use of the internet. Internet access should be supervised, and minors must be prohibited from bypassing content filtering solutions.
CIPA requirements for K12 schools also require Internet access to be monitored, although the tracking of Internet use by minors (or adults) is not required.
Implementing a Web Content WiFi Filter for CIPA Compliance
CIPA does not stipulate the type of web content filter that must be implemented. This is left to the discretion of the school or library. A web content WiFi filter for CIPA compliance can be hardware-, software- or cloud-based. Many organizations choose the latter due to the cost advantage this offers, and due to the ease of implementation and administration.
Using a cloud-based web content WiFi filter for CIPA compliance offers a number of advantages:
- No restriction on the number of devices that can access the Internet.
- No hardware purchases are required
- No software installations are required on any computer or device used for Internet access.
- Central management of the web content filter.
- Allows MSPs and wireless WiFi ISPs to market content filtered Internet solutions to CIPA-covered institutions.
WebTitan Web Content WiFi Filter for CIPA Compliance for Schools & Libraries
TitanHQ has developed a new CIPA-compliant web content filtering solution specifically for providers of WiFi networks that allows Internet content to be easily filtered at a minimal cost. While the WebTitan content filter will ensure CIPA compliance, there are other important benefits of using the solution in schools and libraries.
In addition to filtering out age-inappropriate content and websites containing obscene images, the solution provides protection from web-based threats such as phishing, malware, and ransomware. Schools and other educational institutions are being actively targeted by cybercriminals to steal sensitive staff and student data and gain access to networks to deploy ransomware. In March 2021, schools and universities were put on alert by the FBI following a spike in targeted ransomware attacks on educational institutions. Many of these attacks involve malicious software downloaded from the Internet or phishing attacks using web-based phishing forms.
A CIPA WiFi filter is an important cybersecurity measure that blocks these threats. Blacklists of known malicious websites are built into the WiFi filter to prevent the malicious content from being accessed via web browsing or links in malicious emails and documents. The web filter’s keyword filters can also be used to block downloads of files associated with malware, should malware be loaded onto an otherwise non-malicious website or web service e.g. Sharepoint, Google Drive, or OneDrive. A WiFi filter can also be used to control bandwidth use to ensure that all individuals accessing WiFi can enjoy good Internet speeds.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi requires no additional hardware or software installations. A minor tweak of DNS settings is all that is required – a task that can easily be performed by any web administrator or member of the IT staff. Once those settings have been updated, our web content WiFi filter for CIPA compliance can be up and running in a matter of minutes. Installing a web content WiFi filter for CIPA compliance could not be any easier.
Key Benefits of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
|Key Features of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi||100% cloud-based solution for ease of installation|
|Scalable solution for schools and libraries of all sizes|
|No restriction on the number of WiFi networks|
|No impact on Internet speed|
|CIPA-compliant WiFi Internet access for all devices|
|Granular controls block obscene images|
|Block by Internet site or dictionary search terms|
|Block illegal activity such as gambling and copyright-infringing P2P file sharing|
|Block harmful content such as radical religious material and racial hate speech|
|Supports Google safe search and YouTube for Schools|
|Prevent malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks|
|Full reporting suite and administrator alerts|
Find Out More about WebTitan Cloud for WiFi for your School or Library
If you have responsibility for the provision of a wireless Internet service in your educational institution, talk to us about WebTitan Cloud for WiFi. Web content WiFi filters for CIPA compliance are not the inflexible and complicated mechanisms of a decade ago when each filter had to be installed, configured, and updated manually.
Now you can control the whole filtering operation easily from one centralized management portal. You can block access to certain categories of websites with the click of a mouse, fine-tune your selections by using versatile keyword filters, and set different filtering parameters for different grades so that each year can only access age-appropriate online content. The granular controls ensure content can be carefully blocked without overblocking and preventing valuable educational content from being accessed. WebTitan makes content filtering simple, requiring no technical skill to install, configure, and maintain the solution. WebTItan also provides excellent protection from phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks.
To show you how easy WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is to use, we invite you to take a free trial of our award-winning web content WiFi filter for CIPA compliance. This will enable you to evaluate WebTitan Cloud for WiFi within your own environment and optimize the filter´s parameters for your school´s specific needs. Then, if you decide to continue using our service, there will be no further reconfiguration required. To find out more call one of our Customer Service teams today:
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or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What are the four CIPA provisions for K-12 schools?
There are CIPA filtering requirements to prevent access to obscene images, an Internet safety policy must be implemented, user activity should be monitored, and minors need to be educated about safe online behavior
What is CIPA compliant filtering software?
CIPA compliant filtering software allows schools and libraries to prevent minors from accessing obscene images and other harmful content while connected to the school’s or library’s wired or wireless network.
Do CIPA compliant content filters need to be installed on-premises?
No. CIPA content filtering can be performed on a dedicated web filtering appliance, software can be installed on existing hardware, or cloud-based CIPA compliant content filters can be used. Cloud-based filtering is popular as it offers cost advantages over appliances, is easier to manage, and is more flexible.
How much does a CIPA compliant filter cost?
The cost of a CIPA compliant filter is dependent on the number of users and, if you are using a software-as-a-service solution, the length of the contract. There are usually discounts available on the cost based on the number of users and the cost will be offset by discounts under the e-rate program. For an accurate quote for your school or library, give the TitanHQ team a call.
I’m concerned about CIPA blocking websites that contain educational content. How can I make sure that content can be accessed?
CIPA filtering is necessary to block harmful content but overblocking of content can be an issue. By choosing a web filtering solution with granular controls, it is possible to avoid blocking valuable educational material. WebTitan is a CIPA-compliant web filter that allows precise control of the web content that can be accessed, and will ensure obscene images and other harmful content are blocked without also blocking educational web content.