Child Online Protection Act Struck Down

    July 23, 2008

A federal court has upheld a ban on a law that would criminalize protected speech on the Internet.

The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) on behalf of a coalition of writers, artists and health educators who use the Internet to communicate constitutionally protected speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in its ruling that the COPA law "cannot withstand a strict scrutiny, vagueness, or overbreadth analysis and thus is unconstitutional."

Previously, a federal district court and a federal appeals court found the online censorship law violates the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution. The Supreme Court upheld that decision, banning enforcement of the law in 2004 and sending the case back to district court to determine if there had been any changes in technology that would affect the constitutionality of the statute.

"Our clients provide valuable and necessary health and news information. Preventing adults from accessing this information under the guise of protecting children is not permissible," said Aden Fine, Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working group.

"There are more effective, less intrusive tools available to limit what minors can access on the Internet."