ACLU to challenge COPA

As per itworld (by way of Slashdot) the ACLU's case challenging the constitutionality of COPA, the "Children's Online Protection Act" is to begin next monday. For those who haven't been keeping up (from the fine article):

COPA would require Web sites publishing adult material to restrict access to minors by taking steps such as requiring credit-card information for access to that material. Penalties for not restricting access include fines of up to US$50,000 per day and up to six months in prison.

COPA has never been enforced due to several legal challenges against it; the supreme court voted to uphold the ban on enforcement in 2004.

So what's wrong with COPA? It amounts to censorship write large across the internet by placing the burden on the owners and operators of websites. Pretty much any law whose stated purpose is to "save the children" is guaranteed to be more about votes than kids. If you're against it, then you're obviously in favor of harming children.

COPA is just the "Nanny State" attempting to establish dominance. See, this isn't really about children, or in this case even actually about votes. What this is about is applying the same puritanical values to all citizens whether they believe in them or not. It's an attempt to get nudity and swearing off of the face of the (American) internet, and tuck it all away behind credit card validators.

Now if all of these supposed attempts to keep kids from seeing that kind of material would actually be successful, then I'd still be against it, but at least I'd have some sympathy for the idea. However, they can never be successful any more than gun control can be successful. Kids can loot their parents' wallets for credit card and identification information, which they can then use to access any site they like. And of course, current attempts to comply with COPA typically take the form of a check box that says "I certify that I am at least thirteen years of age" - the minimum age to allow someone to sign up for a mailing list without their parents' involvement. Requiring a credit card will be about equally successful. Meanwhile, few people will risk putting their credit card information in to access a political speech website that happens to use a few "naughty words".

If you love freedom, contact the ACLU (whatever you might think of their overall politics, like their inability to comprehend the importance of the second amendment to the constitution) and let them know that you stand with them on this issue.

Add new comment