Individual Rights

In the United States free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Banning, censoring, filtering and blocking are nasty words in a free society.  The truth is that in all countries restrictions are placed upon individuals by the government.  These restrictions are laws that are considered necessary to protect society.  Many organizations and governments have established ways that attempt to restrict information on the Internet.   Some governments make it illegal to do certain things on the Internet with punishments that range from fines to prison time.  They do this with the belief that they are protecting the citizens of their country.  In the United States attempts to make laws restricting the Internet have ran up against a wall that has a foundation based on the First Amendment right of free speech.  Organizations such as the ACLU, Electronic Frontiers, Freedom Forum and People for the American Way have been fighting against the governments attempts to censoring the Internet.  Other organizations such as Enough is Enough, American Family Association, Family Research Council and National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families are pressuring schools, libraries and governments to protect students by making censoring the harmful sites on the Internet a requirement or even a law.  Several legal cases have taken place in our courts over the censoring of the Internet by the federal government and local libraries. 

The federal government has attempted to restrict the Internet through legislation. The Child Online Protection Act, which would require commercial web sites to restrict access by children to material deemed "harmful to minors" by requiring a credit card or proof of age.  This legislation is being contested in federal court and will most likely be found unconstitutional.  One of the first attempts by the United States government to censor the Internet was The Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA).  It was voted into laws but was later found unconstitutional by the Federal Supreme Court.  A new version of CDA called CDA II has passed in the United States legislature and will most likely be contested by the ACLU for First Amendment violations.   The Safe Schools Internet Act of 1998 and Children's Internet Protection Act are currently under consideration by the United States legislature.  These laws are attempts by the government to force schools to filter the Internet.  
Libraries have recently seen litigation over the use of filters to control access to the Internet.  Courts have ruled that libraries filtering the Internet are breaking the First Amendment rights of its patrons and must stop.  The libraries are being torn in two directions one by people who want no censoring and the other by those who want to put filters on library computers to protect children from accessing harmful Internet sites.   In Livermore, California a parent sued the library to force them to put blocking software on the library computers. This case was a result of her child accessing pornography on the library computers.  The judge in the case dismissed the lawsuit. In another lawsuit, the Loudoun library case, the court declares public library filters "unconstitutional". The judge from the Loudoun Library Case recommends separate filtered computers for kids. One note is that the American Library Association has come out against the governmental control of the Internet.  They believe that filtering the Internet should be something that is decided by each local library. 
are torn by their duty to protect kids and their desire to have access to all the desirable information the Internet offers.  Schools are at the beginning stages of figuring out ways to filter the internet and yet keep it as open as possible.  At the present time there does not appear to be any web sites in regard to litigation against schools specifically about the Internet.  I believe this is due to the lack of many schools having access to the Internet. Lawsuits against schools will start appearing as the schools attempt to restrict access to the Internet.  The ACLU has indicated that it is just a matter of time before law suites against schools begin to appear.   Some organizations believe the rights protected in the First Amendment include K-12 school students. Most legal cases involving schools have been over the free speech rights of students to say and write what they want without school censoring.  The cases have involved school publications and individual speech or expression by school students.  These legal cases have upheld the rights of school boards to censor material produced by students.  These cases are not about censoring the Internet. They are about censoring school children and they can form the foundation for the argument that schools can filter the Internet to protect students.
The Different Points of View

Pro free speech
When you filter sites for kids then adults are denied access to information when they use the computer and is a violation of their 1st amendment rights of free speech.

Any attempts to filter or censor harmful web sites that a student accesses can also block sites that are good and of educational value and is a violation of their 1st amendment rights

The First Amendment rights of free speech does not exclude students in public schools. 
In the State of Illinois the legislature passed House Bill 154 bill that spelled out the rights of children in a school. The bill was vetoed by the governor of the state and never became law.  Some states have passed laws regarding students rights in schools. 

Pro censoring

Schools are not for the use of the general public and if an adult chooses to use the school then they have to accept the restrictions of the school. Our first obligation is to our students.

Schools are obligated to protect students from material determined to be harmful for kids.  WebWiseKIds web site supporting the safe use of the Internet.

School age children do not have the freedom to do what ever they want.  As parents and teachers we restrict our kids to protect them and to teach them the values we want them to learn. In the case of Bethel School District No. 403 vs. Fraser Supreme Court upholds right of schools to censor certain speech.

Supreme Court rulings

Pro student’s rights
The opponents of censorship have used the Supreme Court legal ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Dist., 393 U.S. 503 (1969).  In this case the Supreme Court ruled that students do have limited first amendment protection.  The court held that the schools may restrict some rights of students within certain guide lines.

Pro school’s right to censor
The Supreme Court has ruled that schools do have a right to censor student publications.  One ruling came from the lawsuit of  Hazelwood School District et al. v. Kuhlmeier et al. (1988).  Another case was the Bethel School District No. 403 v. Fraser [478 US 675 (1986]