Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme court announced its refusal to hear appeals against the banning of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), effectively killing the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union called it “a clear victory for free speech,” having fought the bill for ten years claiming it infringed on a website’s freedom of speech.
COPA was first passed in 1998, and made it illegal to display any pornographic material on a Web site without an access code or proof of age message. However, state courts began challenging the bill immediately, claiming it was unconstitutional and violated the First Amendment. Instead, it was ruled that parental controls should be used by individual families to block unwanted content, rather than the government determining what can and cannot be seen by all.
I’ve always advocated that it is the responsibility of parents to monitor their children’s online activity. There are a ton of Web filtering and parental control applications available, many for free such as Blue Coat’s K9 Web Protection. Especially with the country in the shape it’s in now, my personal opinion is that the government has more pressing issues to attend to than babysitting children online.