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Online Behavior To Be Taught in Schools

WASHINGTON (CN) - Schools that receive Internet discounts under the E-rate program must certify that they are teaching cyberbullying awareness and response, and how to behave on social networking sites, under a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule.

The new rule would be in accordance with the Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act.

Existing rules for Children's Internet Protection Act certificates require elementary and secondary schools and libraries to certify that they have certain Internet safety policies and technology protection measures in place, including one protecting against Internet access to visual depictions that are "obscene," or "child pornography," or, for minors, "harmful to minors." The existing rule also requires the entity to certify that its policy of Internet safety includes monitoring the online activities of minors.

New rules would require that the school, school board, or other authority certify that it "as part of its Internet safety policy is educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking Web sites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response."

The agency seeks comment on whether the rule should be effective for the 2009 funding year, which continues into the summer, and whether only those applying for funding for the first time may certify that they will be in compliance within the year, instead of certifying that they are already in compliance.

The agency plans to keep it a local decision what finally should be allowed to be shown to minors, and how to implement the provision that allows an administrator to turn off the protections for an adult using the Internet for "bona fide research or other lawful use by an adult."

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