Because of the legal controversies surrounding CIPA in recent years, the literature has been filled with various kinds of studies and opinion pieces on the effectiveness of filters. The 2003 study conducted by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Online Policy Group is critical of the effectiveness of filters in educational institutions. The Kaiser study (Richardson, Resnick, Hansen, Derry and Rideout, 2002) demonstrates the difference that filter settings make in the amount of harmless material that is blocked through the use of filters. The Pew Internet and American Life Project study (Levin and Arafeh, 2002) demonstrates how technologically savvy students are becoming increasingly frustrated with the limitations of filtered Internet access and use in schools. One finding says that “while many students recognize the need and a desire to shelter teenagers from inappropriate material and adult-oriented commercial ads, they complain that blocking and filtering software raise significant barriers to their legitimate educational use of the Internet” (p. 19).
The use of filtering technology in libraries has been discouraged by the American Library Association (ALA) on First Amendment grounds, even though ALA was unsuccessful in its suit against the Children’s Internet Protection Act. CIPA requires public libraries to install filters on all library computers in order to obtain commercial e-rate discounts for Internet access and certain categories of grants from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). On June 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court surprised many free speech activists by ruling CIPA constitutional ( U.S. v. American Library Association, 2003), largely on the grounds that the filters could be disabled upon request. Therefore, school media centers, along with public libraries, remain subject to the filtering provisions of CIPA if they choose to accept e-rate discounts or LSTA funds.
Quantitative studies such as the Kaiser study (Richardson, et al., 2002) and Electronic Frontier Foundation and Online Policy Group (2003) have strengthened the knowledge base on how filters work and how effective they are in accomplishing owner objectives to block Internet content.