Blown To Bits

Child Online Protection Act Axed Again

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008 by Harry Lewis

On pages 247-249 of Blown to Bits, we tell the saga of the Child Online Protection Act, an act criminalizing the posting to a web site “material that is harmful to minors.” The law was protested for a host of reasons, among them that it’s hard to tell how old the viewers of your web site actually are. It never took effect, and we say in the book, “in March 2007, the ax finally fell on COPA.”

We spoke too soon. The ax referred to there was the decision of a federal district court in eastern Pennsylvania that the law was unconstitutional, but the government appealed that decision. Yesterday the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the district court (opinion here): the law goes too far in restricting speech. In particular, harmful material is better kept from minors at the destination, by use of filters in the home, rather than at the source, by criminalizing the publication.

But even now, ten years after the law was passed, it may not be dead. The government may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping that the third time’s a charm.

One Response to “Child Online Protection Act Axed Again”

  1. Blown to Bits » Blog Archive » Protesting a Proposal for a Censored Internet Says:

    [...] Child Online Protection Act Axed Again [...]