Supreme Court Ends Government's Ten-Year Quest for Internet Censorship Standard
Brock N Meeks, CDT
(202) 637-9800 ex. 114
(703) 989-3547 (CELL)
Washington - The Supreme Court Wednesday dealt the final blow to the government's 10-year campaign to place onerous restrictions on Internet content. The Court declined to hear the government's appeal of lower court rulings that declared the Child Online Protective Act as unconstitutional.
COPA passed in 1998 but was never enforced due to immediate court challenges on First Amendment grounds. Since COPA was passed there have been at least three major commissions or studies that have concluded that education and voluntary technology tools are the most effective way to protect kids online. These approaches are the ones Congress and the President should pursue to enhance Internet safety.
"We applaud the Court's decision, which ends the government's quixotic and wasteful ten-year effort to impose an unconstitutional censorship standard on Internet content," said Leslie Harris, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology. "Despite continuing pressure to force ever more restrictive standards on Internet content, this new political climate provides the right opportunity to say, 'Yes we can,' protect children online without compromising First Amendment principles," Harris said.
"Now is the time, with a new Administration and energized Congress, to pursue new and constitutional ways to empower parents with practical ways to protect children online," said John Morris, CDT's general counsel. " In the years since COPA was adopted, the Internet has undergone a complete transformation. This illustrates the futility of using static laws to attempt to control a rapidly changing environment."
COPA placed severe restrictions on a wide range of legal, socially valuable speech, including content relating to sexual identity, health and art. CDT was active in the fight bury COPA, including filing friend-of-the-court briefs opposing the law and supporting its long-held stance that parental empowerment technologies are the least restrictive means of protecting children from harmful content on the Internet.