State Internet Filtering Law Comparison

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) has a good website comparing state Internet Filtering Laws. I’m not sure if this is being maintained, last update as of this writing (2 Oct 2010) was Dec 2009.

State_internet_filtering_laws

I was very interested to learn that here in Tennessee, where I’ve been for the Martin Institute‘s fall 2010 conference, all public K-12 schools are required to have Internet filtering which is CENTRALLY MANAGED by the state. This means there is NO local autonomy for individual schools or districts to determine their own whitelists or blacklists.

I wonder how many other states are under this type of centralized filtering regime? It seems to me an advocacy campaign which sought to legally enable local schools to adopt and maintain their own Internet filtering policies is needed. Local control is an essential value of our public school system in the United States. Centralized management of Internet content filtering by a state authority lends itself naturally to highly conservative and reactionary policies which may significantly impede the use of digital resources to support learning in the classroom.

That’s a nice way of saying, Tennessee state-managed content filtering is (in the perception of some) draconian, heavy-handed, and unbalanced. If you’re an educator working in Tennessee today, what’s you’re view on this?

Do you know of other states in the United States which centrally manage Internet content filtering for schools?

One thought on “State Internet Filtering Law Comparison

  1. Angie_Wass

    Thanks for starting this movement! Filtering has been a huge interest of mine for a couple of years. I started teaching in a district that had very liberal filtering. I find it no coincidence that there were a lot of people there who were integrating technology into their classrooms. I then moved to a district in another state where the filtering was ridiculous. In fact, after attending a state technology conference, I came back with the “top Web 2.0 sites for education” and found that I couldn’t access 6 out of 10! To make matters worse, there was no policy in place for unblocking a site. You would send it off to the “man behind the curtain” and see if you were luck enough to get a response. Needless to say, this made technology integration extremely difficult! Imagine an art teacher who couldn’t even take her students to a museum website! Bottom line: Instead of babysitting our students with filters, we need to teach them how to use the Internet in a safe and responsible manner.We also need to remember that kids’ needs are different based on their age and development. This is another reason a one-size-fits-all approach such as filtering is ineffective. Zheng Yan (http://www.albany.edu/educational_psychology/faculty/yan.shtml) has done some great work on this.

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