Child Online Protection Act (COPA) Struck Down by Federal Court
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A U.S. District Court has struck down the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), saying that, among other things, that technlogical and filtering solutions do a far better job of protecting children from harmful and offensive online content than can a law.

In writing his decidion, Philadelphia District Court Judge Lowell Reed, Jr. observed that the Federal government’s own study demonstrated “that all but the worst performing filters are far more effective than COPA would be at protecting children from sexually explicit material on the Web.”


Scholars have argued for some time that COPA was worse than ineffective, providing as it did for at least six months in prison and a $50,000 fine for anybody who provided a minor with online access to material that “the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, taking the material as a whole and with respect to minors, is designed to appeal to, or is designed to pander to, the prurient interest.” Beyond the fact that the “average person” standard in this context is probably not very useful, COPA went on to define such harmful content as that which “taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”

With such vague requirements, yet such a definite penalty, COPA was often at the center of debate, both legal and technical.

This week’s ruling by Judge Reed should put the debates to rest, unless the Feds decide to appeal the decision.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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