ASSEMBLY, No. 2196
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED MARCH 6, 2000
Assemblyman STEVE CORODEMUS
District 11 (Monmouth)
Limits minors' access to certain Internet materials in schools and libraries.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
(Sponsorship Updated As Of: 5/2/2000)
An Act concerning the monitoring of Internet access by students in local public schools and public libraries and supplementing chapter 74 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Student Internet Access Act."
2. The Legislature finds and declares that:
a. The Internet is an increasingly valuable medium for the collection and dissemination of information.
b. The large majority of school districts and public libraries in this State already have Internet access.
c. Currently, a significant number of elementary and secondary schools use the Internet as a part of their respective curricula and encourage students to use the Internet as a means of acquiring information.
d. Many students have access to the Internet through Internet services at their schools and often are exposed to obscene and pornographic sites, as well as sites that encourage or advocate intolerance, extreme behavior and the use of alcohol and illicit drugs.
e. Increasingly, advertisers use the Internet to market obscene materials to millions of Internet users.
f. Various organizations make available via the Internet information advocating intolerance and extreme behavior.
g. The State has a compelling interest in protecting elementary and secondary school students from the above mentioned types of materials. It is, therefore, fitting that the Legislature enact a narrowly tailored remedy to protect students while avoiding undue interference with the growth and accessibility of this important medium and with the needs of school districts and public libraries to use the Internet as a curriculum-enhancing learning tool.
h. It is also in the interest of the citizens of this State to ensure that school districts and public libraries adopt policies for the use of Internet filtering software so as to restrict access by students to Internet sites that are inappropriate for their viewing.
3. As used in this act:
"Drug" means a controlled substance as well as a substance used for other than its primary purpose to alter an individual's state of mind. The term includes prescription drugs when used other than for their primary purpose.
"Gross depiction" means picture, descriptive text or audio communication of any individual or anything that is crudely vulgar or grossly deficient in civility or which shows scatological impropriety. The term includes depictions such as maiming, bloody figures or indecent depiction of bodily functions.
"Internet" means the international computer network of both federal and non-federal interoperable packet switched data networks.
"Internet filtering software" means a type of filtering program designed to reject Internet sites not suitable for students. The software may screen sites by word content, site rating or uniform resource locator (URL), using an updated database of objectionable sites, or any combination of these techniques, for the purpose of blocking the viewing of undesirable Internet content.
"Intolerance" means prejudice or discrimination against persons of any race, color, national origin, religion, disability or handicap, gender or sexual orientation. The term includes intolerant jokes and slurs.
"Militant or extreme behavior" means extremely aggressive and combative behavior or behavior which advocates unlawful action or activity.
"Obscenity" or "obscene" means material that, to the average person applying contemporary standards, the predominant appeal of the matter taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest or lacks redeeming social importance.
"Partial nudity" means exposure of the female breast or male or female buttocks.
"Profanity" means obscene words or phrases.
"Satanic cult" means a closed society, often headed by a single individual, where loyalty is demanded and leaving may be punishable, where harm to oneself and others is advocated and worship of the devil and affinity for evil or wickedness is encouraged.
"Violence" means extreme cruelty or a physical or emotional act against any person or animal which is primarily intended to hurt or inflict pain.
4. a. Each school district shall establish a program to monitor and control Internet access by students in accordance with this section. The school district shall obtain and install Internet filtering software that will help it to monitor and control the Internet sites to which its students will have access.
b. The board of education of a school district shall develop a policy that shall clearly state what types of information shall be blocked from student access. The policy shall prohibit access by students to the following:
(2) Gross depictions;
(3) Depictions of sexual acts;
(4) Depictions of full and partial nudity; and
(5) Information encouraging or advocating satanic cults, intolerance, extreme behavior, violence or profanity and the sale, consumption or production of illicit drugs or alcohol products.
c. Each school district shall designate a person who shall act as an administrator of the program under subsection a. of this section. This person shall be responsible for determining which Internet sites or types of sites are inappropriate for use and viewing by students in that school district in accordance with subsection b. of this section. The administrator also shall be responsible for selecting Internet filtering software, distributing software upgrades, monitoring daily activity, and providing for routine backups of such filtering software.
5. a. If any public library, as defined in section 3 of P.L.1973, c.381 (C.18A:74-16), offers use of the Internet or a computer or computer program, network, or system to the public, its governing body shall require the library to utilize Internet filtering software to restrict access to matter prohibited in subsection b. of section 4 of this act on any computer available for use by persons under 18 years of age, unaccompanied by a parent or guardian.
b. The public library also shall:
(1) Require an adult library employee to monitor the terminals being used by minors; and
(2) Arrange the terminals in a configuration that allows a library staff employee to view the terminals used by minors at all times.
6. Nothing in this act shall be construed to preempt or limit any requirements that are imposed by any public elementary or secondary school or a public library, or by a political authority for such school or library, that are more stringent than the requirements of this act or to limit otherwise applicable federal or State pornography or obscenity laws.
7. The State Treasurer or Commissioner of Education, as the case may be, is hereby empowered to withhold any form of State library aid, not to exceed 10 percent of the previous year allocation, from any school district or county, municipality or area library which does not comply with the provisions of this act, or with any rules and regulations duly adopted pursuant thereto.
8. The Commissioner of Education shall, by regulation, establish a program to reimburse a school district or library subject to the provisions of this act for the cost of Internet filtering software utilized in compliance with this act. The Legislature shall annally appropriate a sum sufficient to defray the cost of reimbursements, as certified by the commissioner.
9. This act shall take effect on the first day of the sixth month after enactment.
This bill requires public school district libraries and local public libraries which provide Internet access for their patrons to utilize software filters that would restrict minors' access to obscene and other potentially harmful matter.
Public libraries are directed to utilize filtering software to prohibit access to restricted matter for persons under age 18. The library also would be expected to:
∙ Require adult library employees to monitor the terminals used by minors, and
∙ Arrange the terminals so that library employees can view the terminals used by minors at all times.
Public school districts would be required to establish a program to monitor and control Internet access by students. Each board of education would be expected to develop a policy to clearly state what types of information would be blocked based on the content restricted by the bill. This includes obscenity, gross depictions, depictions of sexual acts or nuditiy, intolerance, extreme behavior, cult activity, violence, and the sale, consumption or production of illicit drugs and alcohol.
More stringent requirements imposed by public schools and libraries would not be preempted or limited by the bill. The State Treasurer, with respect to public libraries, and the Commissioner of Department of Education, with respect to school district libraries, are authorized to withhold up to 10 percent of State library aid to schools and librarians which do not comply with the provisions of this act.
Libraries could apply to the State for partial or full reimbursement of Internet filtering software costs. The bill would require the Legislature to annually appropriate a sum sufficient to cover these reimbursements.
As of early 1999, 95.8 percent of New Jersey schools had at least one Internet access point. Access to the Internet ranged from 49.9 percent of students in Middlesex County to 98.2 percent of students in Hudson County. By the year 2002, it is expected that every school district will have a high speed Internet connection, according to the Department of Education survey, "Technology for Learning." About 95 percent of public libraries are currently "wired" for the Internet.