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United States v. American Library Association (ALA, 2003) is the most recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in a series of cases regarding the federal government's attempts to protect children from harmful online content. Although ALA concerned public libraries, it is generally presumed to also apply to public schools. In ALA, for the first time, the Supreme Court validated congressional attempts to protect students, via filtering software, from accessing indecent material on the Internet.

Facts of the Case

ALA is best understood by knowing the history of previous congressional attempts to regulate indecent Internet content. The first effort at legislation by Congress, the Communications Decency Act (CDA), was part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The act imposed criminal sanctions on anyone who behaves as ...

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