COPA Struck Down

The federal district court hearing the ACLU’s overbreadth challenge to the Child Online Protection Act (AFC posts here, here, and here) ruled yesterday that less restrictive measures such as software filters could effectively control minors’ access to “harmful” material and that COPA violates the First Amendment. The judge’s 84-page decision is here. Infothought, which has followed the trial more closely, posted a COPA links roundup after the decision’s release.

5 thoughts on “COPA Struck Down”

  1. I agree with the judge’s decision that the Child Online Protection Act was too harsh. Since COPA violates the First and Fifth Amendment rights of individuals and is too vague, the judge’s permanent injunction is appropriate. There is also precedence for this injuction with the COmmunications Decency Act of 1996. This Act was also deemed unconstitutional because is was not defined narrowly enough. COPA states that “Whoever knowingly and with knowledge of the character of the material, in interstate or foreign commerce by means of the World Wide Web, makes any communication for commercial purposes that is available to any minor and that includes any material that is harmful to minors shall be fined not more than $50,000, imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both. This definition is too broad to apply to an Internet operator effectively.

    According to expert testimony from a previous blog entry, statistical evidence proves that it is almost impossible to keep individuals from retrieving sexually explicit websites through search engines by mistake. MSN, Google, and Yahoo! were included in this statistical study, and they all brought up sexually explicit websites during random searches. This proves that Internet operators cannot be imposed with such heavy fines and sentences for not being able to control the result fields of search engines.

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