Nine Years Later, Children May Get Web Protection

News Posted 20/11/2006
Author: PV5150
Source: CNET

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Lowell A. Reed, Jr. in Philadelphia will hear closing arguments in the Child Online Protection Act case, and a ruling is expected by early 2007.
It’s unlikely that Reed will lift the injunction, but it is possible.

The case has already gone up to the U.S. Supreme Court once, at which point the justices asked Reed to evaluate whether the effectiveness of blocking software had changed in the last few years–a crucial question on which much of the case hinges. (That’s because the ACLU argues filterware is a less restrictive means than a Net-censorship law.)

If Reed sides with the Bush administration, mainstream Web publishers will have plenty to worry about. COPA makes it a federal crime to knowingly post Web pages that have sexually explicit material that’s “harmful to minors.” Violators could be fined up to $50,000 and imprisoned for up to six months. That affects far more than just porn producers–even news organisations publishing articles and videos that could be deemed “harmful to minors” might be in trouble.

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