CIPA Compliance and Internet Filtering

If you are in the process of identifying a Internet filter solution or a CIPA compliance policy at an educational body that you should, after conducting some research, be aware that solutions can differ greatly in relation to effectives, deployment options and level of investment.

Due to this we will attempt to guide you on your research journey and the option available for you to configure on your network.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act was passed in the United States in 2000 establishing a connection between Internet filtering and CIPA compliance. Basically a legal requirement was introduced which stated that educational bodies seeking E-rate discounts would only qualify if they have a “technology protection measure” to make sexual and harmful images inaccessible on their network(s).

These rules were bolstered in 2008 with the passing of the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act which mandated the same bodies to create Internet safety policies in order to educate children about online safety, cyberbullying and proper conduct in chat room services. With the passage of this bill, the relationship between Internet filtering and CIPA compliance was strengthened.

When CIPA was benign formulated WIFI was not as widespread, and publicly available for free, as it is today. The same requirements are inplace for WIFI to have active filters preventing access to inappropriate or harmful material over a network in an educational institution. A WIFI filter will also add a welcome security measure that will prevent the downloading of malware and ransomware.

Since the 2008 passing of CIPA legal requirements have not been amended. The main legal requirement in place is for schools to create an Internet usage policy that details how the security measures that have in place will help to prevent someone underage viewing inappropriate or harmful materials while online or unwittingly sharing personal information with unauthorized individuals.

The policies MUST outline the following:

  • How students will be guided regarding appropriate Internet usage and behavior
  • What appropriate online interaction entails
  • How to avoid and prevent cyberbullying

In order for you to implement strong web content filtering solutions you should try to put in a place a three tiered system for cybersecurity. This would tackle:

  1. URL requests by referring to blacklist and ensuring that the request is not to visit a blacklisted website, known to be harboring malware. This will keep the network and devices connected to it protected from malware and ransomware attacks.
  2. Keyword filters with SSL inspection. System administrators select which categories of website they wish to block, and then use the keyword filters to fine-tune their selections.
  3. Whitelists need to be put in place so that access to some prohibited websites can be allowed in order to complete research or even if you feel a website has been blacklisted by mistake.

For education institutions such as schools and colleges then the level of investment allocated to adding this feature should be no issue given the potential harm to students, and level of federal funding, than can be caused by its absence.