Judge Says COPA Can't Protect The Children At The Expense Of Free Speech

from the justice-served dept

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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    qpsk1half, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 11:53am

    Not thier job

    I have three children, and I will be damned if I will leave the role of protecting my children in the hands of any government. There is and always will be those who will use whatever media or avenue they can find to break the law or put others in harms way whether it is with pornography, fraud, or firearms. The bottom line is that it is the Duty and Responsibility of the PARENT(S) to protect their children and this seems like a law that is put in place to try to allow parents to ignore their children's online behavior and blame someone else for their failures.

    Another thing..It also looks like a legislation that was was put in to try to do "something" when there was no real clear plan on what needed to be done. But something needed done, or so I can guess the thought process went. In other words, it may be ineffective, but at least we did something.

    My $.02

     

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  2.  
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    Kewtr, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 11:55am

    Good News

    The unfortunate fact is that there are things kids shouldn't see-- everywhere. That's why they have parents. COPA is not a parent.

    I do not accept all the excuses for abdicating parenting to the state. The state does a terrible job and only acts after the damage is done anyway.

    If you have kids, you need to take care of them. Tough job, get over it.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:08pm

    Won't someone please think of the children!!!!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:08pm

    uhm... shut up

    Shut up already about the "parents responsibility" thing. This has absolutely nothing to do with parenting skills or abilities.

    The "think of the children" acts do exactly the opposite of thinking of the children every single time. So if the purpose of the intent of the act isnt to do a parents job, then saying that its the parents job doesnt change anything.

    COPA is an exercise in restricting change by limiting the freedoms and rights.

     

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  5.  
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    Casper, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 12:56pm

    Re: uhm... shut up

    "Shut up already about the "parents responsibility" thing. This has absolutely nothing to do with parenting skills or abilities."

    Actually it does, but not in the way your viewing the problem. You are looking at the reason the law is created and pointing out the fact that it isn't really intended to help the children, but to regulate freedoms. In this point you are correct, but you must also broaden your view. The law has to gain support to be passed, and parenting is weak point in todays world. People are all for a law that will help shift blame of parenting to someone else. Of course it is the parents job to monitor what their child is doing, but it's far easier to shift it onto the government. So when one of these laws pops up, law makers look good by "protecting children", parents feel good that "the government is protecting my child so I don't have to", and the cycle can continue.

    It is the parents job to take care of their children, to watch them, and to know what they are doing. Of course, that won't stop politicians from using it as a nice way of greasing the wheels to get laws they want passed.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:19pm

    Re: Re: uhm... shut up

    So when one of these laws pops up, law makers look good by "protecting children", parents feel good that "the government is protecting my child so I don't have to", and the cycle can continue.

    I don't think so, I've met alot of people with alot of different opinions, and I dont think I have ever met anyone who actually thinks that.

    They may be gullible enough (and imo, wrong) to believe that "the government is making the world a safer place for my children to grow up in" but they dont think its to enable them to parent less.

    So the parenting argument is still futile. Its just not about that.

     

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  7.  
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    Derrick Hinkle, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 1:51pm

    I have to agree with qpsk1half. Too many people are trying to have the government take the responsiblity of the parent and are putting basic freedoms at risk while doing it. It's alot more then just parental responsibility, but parental responsibility does play a part.
    One of the biggest things is that too many people are one sided on the issue, instead of actually laying out and weighing the real positive and negatives.

     

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  8.  
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    doopboop, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 3:00pm

    compromise

    Although parents need to learn to teach their children basic Internet survival skills like "Don't talk to strangers" and "Don't enter your personal information into websites without my permission and supervision," the truth is that many parents just do not understand the Internet. My mother often calls me over to ask me how to close the browser window. I've taught her a hundred times, but something I don't even remember having to learn is completely unfamiliar to her.

    Also, most parents don't have the time to figure out how it all works. I can't blame them for trusting that Barbie.com or Hersheys.com are not going to exploit their children, collect marketing information, and manipulate them into developing brand loyalty and spending their parents money online. (Evil, or just really really smart business practices?) At the same time, that parental responsibility DOES exist.

    My point being, I think/hope, that parents need to pull their weight, but they also need all the help that they can get. And I'm not disagreeing with Carlo's posting here, just responding to some of the "blame the parents" commenters. I think COPA was stupidly written, but again I think very little of what Congress and the courts have been doing in terms of Internet law/regulation is not stupidly written. (again, it all comes back to complete lack of comprehension of the subject). But there is definitely a need for this type of law.

     

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  9.  
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    Kennith Perry, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 3:09pm

    depending on the fed.gov is stupid

    anyone who would depend on the federal government to protect their children are fools. If you want to really protect your children, turn the computer off or at least monitor what they are doing online. So many parents today just put their kids in front of the computer and/or the TV and let that babysit the kids. Parents need to be the responsible ones and not depend on the government to be the nanny.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: uhm... shut up

    I don't think so, I've met alot of people with alot of different opinions, and I dont think I have ever met anyone who actually thinks that.

    actually, many many people have this opinion

     

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  11.  
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    frank, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 6:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: uhm... shut up

    I don't think so, I've met alot of people with alot of different opinions, and I dont think I have ever met anyone who actually thinks that.

    Actually, many many people have this opinion. I work in public education and have delt with hundreds of parents with this opinion (many will even come right out and say it) who try to put off the responsibility of parenting on public schools, which are run by the government. They depend on the government in this way to raise their children so they do not have to, and they do not want to. The problem is, they do nothing, aren't involved with their kids, and teach them nothing. These are the same parents who would glady rely on the government to watch over their children's internet activity, and there are lots of 'em. The problem is the government does a terrible job when they get involved in education, protecting children on the internet from harm, etc. look at the No Child Left Behind Act for example, another joke. It is the parents responsibility to monitor their children's internet activity, not the governments. I have three kids, and honestly it is not much of a problem keeping them safe from the internet. So yes, it is much about parenting...

     

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  12.  
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    David Lagesse, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Not their job

    "...that it is the Duty and Responsibility of the PARENT(S) to protect their children..."
    OK so how do you propose to do that trick at school, or the library, or at their friends house?
    Some schools are pushing PORN in the form of "Gay Rights". You as a parent are not to be notified in any way about the "Gay Lessons" let alone allowed to be in the school at the time, or remove your children from the class.

     

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  13.  
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    David Lagesse, Mar 22nd, 2007 @ 7:47pm

    Proof: From GrassTops USA

    By Rabi Don Feder 03-15-07
    "....U.S. District Court Judge Mark L. Wolfe was creating his own obscene art, with a 38-page decision declaring that public schools have not only a right, but a positive duty to indoctrinate children on homosexuality.

    Plaintiff in the case was Lexington, Massachusetts parent David Parker, who objected to his 6-year-old being subjected to the Robert Mapplethorpe perspective on unnatural acts, without his knowledge or consent.

    In his opinion, Wolfe reasoned (a word that seems wildly inappropriate in this context): "Diversity is a hallmark of our nation. It is increasingly evident (to whom?) that our diversity includes differences in sexual orientation." Ergo, by indoctrinating the kiddies in one view of sexual-orientation (so-called) the schools are "preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy" (in Wolfe's words) -- that is to say: Preparing them to mindlessly assimilate the left's worldview.

    Believe me, it won't be long before The Sex Workers Art Show is performing at a kindergarten in your neighborhood. After all, is not freedom of sexual expression increasingly a hallmark of the United States of Diversity/Perversity?

    In a ruling last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals didn't go quite as far as Wolfe. But it did determine, in a case similar to Parker's, that parental rights stop at the schoolhouse door.

    Judge Stephen Reinhardt (one of the foremost judicial Jacobins in the land) wrote the majority opinion. "Parents have a right to inform their children when and as they wish on the subject of sex," Reinhardt generously allowed. "They have no constitutional right, however, to prevent a public school from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so."

    This is a carte blanche to brainwash your children when, where and in whatever ways the edu-tocracy sees fit.

    On the one hand, the left demands the separation of church and state -- which is another way of saying the separation of our morality from the government it largely controls.

    At the same time, it works feverishly to advance its pseudo-religion -- which resembles a synthesis of neo-Marxism and neo-paganism (a Canaanite fertility cult).

    The cross, the Ten Commandments, sexual normalcy and parental rights all are anathema to the left's Dionysian creed, so -- in the guise of diversity, sensitivity, inclusiveness and tolerance --- all must go."

     

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  14.  
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    Wizard Prang, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 7:27am

    Not their job either

    Some schools are pushing PORN in the form of "Gay Rights".

    And this is the schools' job HOW?

    Seems to me that the school board has some 'splainin' to do. Sex, Political and Religious (including anti-religious) agenda have no place in the state education systems. Those are clearly parental responsibility.


    You as a parent are not to be notified in any way about the "Gay Lessons" let alone allowed to be in the school at the time, or remove your children from the class.

    I'd love to see them enforce that. What is the School board going to do if 75% of their students' parents say "NO!"?

    It is disturbing that parents have so little control over what their children are taught. It is even more disturbing that so little outrage is seen.

    No wonder we are producing a generation of kids who can use a condom but cannot find Constantinople on a map...

     

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  15.  
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    David Lagesse, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 2:12pm

    Further PROOF

    How do you keep your kids "SAFE" when the schools force this on the students? -- Principal bans parents from pro-'gay' seminar Public district students offered guidance on being homosexual. -- http://www.wnd.com:80/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54708 -- March 15, 2007 WorldNetDaily Administrators at North Newton High School in Newton, Mass., have held a seminar for students that explained how to know they are homosexual, but banned parents from attending. "It's absolutely insane," parent Brian Camenker, who also is chief of the Mass Resistance organization, said. "I met with the principal. She told me no parents are allowed. She said only by invitation. I asked, 'Can I be invited.' She said, 'No.'" - The event, called "ToBeGlad Day," was the school's "Transgender Bisexual Gay Lesbian Awareness Day," and students were given a pamphlet that explains what it means to be "gay," tells students how they are supposed to know if they are "gay," and responds to the question, "Will I ever have sex?" . . . - See also: District gags 14-year-olds after "gay" indoctrination (WorldNetDaily) -- http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54683

     

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