Internet Use Policy and Internet Filtering

graphic showing a computer

by Kevin Tomlinson

The deadline is fast approaching. As we prepare to comply with Idaho’s new law regarding Internet use in public libraries, here are a few tips to help you get up and running.

What is the deadline?

That depends.

• Beginning October 1, 2012:
All public libraries in Idaho receiving public money and governed by the provisions of Chapter 26 (city libraries) or Chapter 27 (district libraries) of Title 33, Idaho Code, will need to comply with Idaho Code 33- 2741 regarding Internet access policies.

• By July 1, 2012:  All public libraries receiving E-Rate funding for Internet must comply with CIPA requirements for Internet safety. In addition to complying with Idaho Code 33-2741, public libraries receiving E-Rate funding must comply with CIPA requirements.

The Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) has assembled a compliance checklist to help public libraries ensure they have completed the relevant steps toward compliance. This checklist will help you understand the difference between the two sets of requirements and how to comply with one or both of them. To download a copy of the checklist, visit http://libraries.idaho.gov/files/FilteringLawChecklist20120213.doc.

How do we know what our policy should include?

ICfL made two templates available for libraries that do not already have an Internet access policy in place. One template is for public libraries that receive E-Rate funds; the other is for all other public libraries. The templates are on ICfL’s Internet Use in Public Libraries - Policy & Procedure Resources page at http://libraries.idaho.gov/InternetUsePolicies. To use the templates, simply fill in the blanks.

Once our new policy goes into effect, do we need to do anything else?

The new law requires that the library’s board of trustees review the policy at least once every three years. Best practice is to review your library’s policies annually, in order to keep them timely and relevant. The board’s annual meeting when many libraries review, amend, repeal, or adopt bylaws, policies, and procedures. However, reviewing your library’s policies on a rotating basis can make this task easier. By reviewing one or two policies each month, instead of all at once, the board can create a cycle of monthly housekeeping, as opposed to a yearly chore.

What kind of language should we add about unacceptable behavior and consequences?

One way for the library’s trustees to make this task easier is to add any language pertaining to behavior, penalties, and consequences to your Acceptable Behavior Policy. By using ICfL’s Internet access policy templates "as is" and not adding any additional language, you can streamline the process of complying with I.C. 33-2741.

Every library should have an Acceptable Behavior Policy, so this is an opportunity to create one or to revise your existing Policy.

Having an Acceptable Behavior Policy enables the public library to maintain a safe and healthy environment in which library users and staff are free from harassment, intimidation, and threats to their safety and wellbeing. In order to protect all library users’ right of access to library facilities; to ensure the safety of users and staff; and to protect library resources and facilities from damage; the library’s board of trustees may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of library access. Including language that covers acceptable behavior when using the library’s public access computers and when accessing the Internet is an appropriate addition to your library’s Acceptable Behavior Policy.

For more information on the American Library Association’s Guidelines for the Development of Policies and Procedures Regarding User Behavior and Library Usage, see www.ala.org/Template.cfm?Section=otherpolicies&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=13147.

Internet Filtering

In addition to having an Internet access policy in place, Idaho Code 33-2741 requires that technology protection measures (filters) be in place by October 1, 2012, to protect against visual depictions that are child pornography, obscenity, or harmful to minors. See I.C. 33-2741(7) for a definition of terms. The filters must be in place on computer workstations provided by the library and used by minors. Computers used by adults, but not by minors, may be filtered, but it is not required. Libraries should take care to use filters in accordance with the library’s mission.

Visit http://libraries.idaho.gov/InternetUsePolicies for more information about policies, Internet safety, and filters.