E-Rate FCC Program and the Children's Internet Protection Act
E-Rate is a program supported by the FCC and administered by the Schools and Libraries Universal Service Support Mechanism which provides discounts to assist schools and libraries in the United States in obtaining affordable Telecommunications and Internet access. Service categories funded are: Internet Access, Internal Connections, and Basic Maintenance. Discounts range from 20% to 90% of the costs of eligible services, depending on the level of poverty and the urban/rural status of the population served. Eligible schools, school districts and libraries may apply individually or as part of a consortium.
E-Rate is one of four support mechanisms funded through the Universal Service fees charged on telecommunications services. CMS uses E-Rate funding to help offset the costs of high speed data lines, Internet access to schools and eligible administrative entities, as well as continued infrastructure improvements for all schools.
Any eligible service for which CMS seeks E-Rate funding must be put out for competitive bid ...
- Once a vendor is selected, a formal application is filed with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).
- Applications must be filed in a window that begins in mid December and ends in mid March each year.
- Applications are reviewed by USAC and, if approved, CMS is generally notified of a funding commitment sometime in summer or fall at the earliest. USAC does not have a funding commitment deadline for approving applications.
Any questions can be submitted to:
CIPA – The Children’s Internet Protection Act
CIPA – The Children’s Internet Protection Act is a federal law enacted by Congress. E-Rate applicants must have an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures (filter) in place. Although called the “Children’s Internet Protection Act,” and requiring specific protections for minors, CIPA clearly applies to certain aspects of adult usage as well. This policy applies to both minors and adults.
These must include measures to:
- Block or filter Internet access to visual depictions/pictures that are deemed obscene, child pornography or are harmful to minors. Filtering is required for all Internet-enabled computers/devices whether used by minors or adults.
- Restrict a minors access to materials inappropriate or harmful to them.
- Block unauthorized access to hacking and other unlawful activities.
- Restrict unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors.
- Provide safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications.
Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act
A new federal law was developed in October 2008 “Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act”. A new requirement for the Internet protection policy was added; educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response. Essentially this means that schools will be required to teach online safety to students as a prerequisite to receiving E-Rate funds.
- Obscene is defined as a highly subjective reference to material or acts which display or describe sexual activity in an obviously disgusting manner, appealing only to "prurient interest," with no legitimate artistic, literary or scientific purpose. Pictures, writings, film or public acts which are found to be obscene are not protected by the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment.
- The term “harmful to minors” means any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that...
- taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion;
- depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals; and
- taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors.
- “Child pornography" means any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer- generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where...
- the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
- such visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
- such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.