Compliance & Certification (FAQs)

Q: Under what circumstances does my library have to comply with CIPA?

A: Public libraries and schools must comply with CIPA when using either of the federal programs below for the purposes listed.

Program Must Comply with CIPA Requirements CIPA Requirements Do Not Apply*
E-rate

When getting discounts for

  • Internal Connections
  • Internet Access

When getting discounts for

  • Telecommunication Services (voice or data)
    Including library to network central site connections.
LSTA

When using funds for

  • purchasing computers that access the Internet
  • paying for Internet access

When using funds for

  • any other purposes allowed by the program and state program guidelines

To determine whether an E-rate eligible service falls under the purview of the act, consult the SLD's Eligible Services List (ESL). Applicants with services that are defined in the Internet or internal connections part of the ESL must comply with the law. Applicants with services defined in the telecommunication services area of the list are exempt from compliance with CIPA and NCIPA.

* Even under these circumstances a library must still check the "does not apply" statement on Form 486. See below for more information on this.

Q: What are the basic requirements of the law?

A: There are three basic requirements in the legislation that applicants must meet, or be "undertaking actions" to meet. The requirements are:

  1. Public libraries must use blocking or filtering technology on all computers with Internet access, including staff workstations. The blocking or filtering must protect against access to certain visual depictions described below.

  2. All public libraries must adopt and implement an Internet safety policy that addresses the criteria described below.

  3. All public libraries must hold a public meeting or hearing, as described below, to discuss the Internet safety policy.

Q: How do we certify that we are meeting the requirements?

A: Certification of compliance is made by an appropriate "Administrative Authority" on Form 486. This can be the school or library board, superintendent, principal, library director, or any other staff member with the authority to make such a certification. There are three certification options on Form 486, #11. In brief, these are:

  1. My school or library has complied with the requirements of CIPA and NCIPA.

  2. My school or library is "undertaking actions" to comply with requirements of CIPA and NCIPA.

  3. CIPA and NCIPA do not apply because my school or library is receiving discounts only for telecommunications services.

Undertaking actions: This option applies only for the first funding year after passage of CIPA/NCIPA for which you have applied for CIPA-covered services such as Internet access. The first funding year is triggered when a Form 486 is filed for Internet or internal connections and the 486 has been processed by the SLD. Therefore, if your school or library filed a 486 for discounts on Internet or internal connections in 2003, the "undertaking actions" does not apply for discounts in 2004 or 2005. In such cases your school or library must now be in full compliance with the law.

Applicants must select the option that describes their state of compliance. To prevent the loss of E-rate discounts, the Form 486 must be postmarked no later than

  • 120 calendar days after the Service Start Date listed on your Form 486 or
  • 120 calendar days after the date of the Funding Commitment Decision Letter

whichever is later. Most applicants with services starting July 1, 2003, must file the 486 by October 28, 2003.

Certification for automated networks (consortia): For libraries that are part of an automated network such as C/WMars or OCLN, the Form 486 certification is submitted to the SLD by the Billed Entity, which is your network headquarters office. Each member of the network (the "administrative authorities") must complete Form 479 declaring compliance with CIPA. The 479 forms are not submitted to the SLD but are collected and kept on file by the the network headquarters. For network applications that are only for telecommunication services, no 479 forms are required. Under such circumstances the network simply checks the CIPA "does not apply" box on Form 486, #11c. If a network application includes some applicants that are getting Internet discounts and some that are getting telecommunication discounts, then all applicants that are part of the network must file Form 479 with the Billed Entity. See the Form 486 instructions for more information on consortium applications.

Q: What is the impact of the lawsuit and court decisions on complying with CIPA's filtering requirement? (see Court Decision)

A: The Supreme Court has reversed the District Court order preventing the government from enforcing CIPA's filtering mandate in public libraries. This decision will serve to bring public libraries back to a level of compliance mandated before the "permanent" injunction that covered FY 2003. Both schools and public libraries will need to meet the CIPA filtering requirements.

Q: What happens if a library does not make any type of certification?

A: Your library will not be eligible for E-rate discounts on services until the proper certification(s) are submitted. If discounts are incorrectly awarded to a non-compliant library, the library, not the service provider, will be responsible for reimbursement. In a consortium application (e.g., CLAMS, Minuteman, SAILS), any member that initially is not in compliance, or later falls out of compliance, will not be eligible for funding, but all other members of the consortium that are in compliance retain their eligibility.

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Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning.
Page last updated on 03/6/2014