The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) has been bouncing around the legal system since it was introduced nearly ten years ago. Not because people don't want to protect the children, but because the law doesn't actually protect children at all -- it's simply an overly broad and useless law that can serve as a catch-all for prosecutors while trampling over the First Amendment. The Supreme Court kicked a case challenging COPA's constitutionality back to a lower court a few years ago, and now despite issuing subpoenas to just about everybody and doing some rigorous research (like figuring out that yes, there is actually some porn online), a Federal district judge has ruled that COPA is unconstitutional because it's "impermissibly vague and overbroad", adding that it would have a chilling effect on a large amount of constitutionally protected speech online. While it's likely the government will decide to waste even more resources and appeal the decision, CNET News.com notes that the ruling appears to be designed to give the Supreme Court a basis for permanently striking down the law, as it contains a detailed report on the state of filtering technology, which the Court had previously asked for. So while the end may be near for one piece of awful internet legislation, there's plenty more lined up to take its place.
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