Rejecting a justice department appeal, on January 21st the US supreme court upheld a lower court ruling that the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), a law intended to shield children from Internet pornography, violates the First Amendment to the US constitution, which protects freedom of speech.
The court ruled that the COPA criminalized a category of speech which, although it could be considered “harmful to minors,” was constitutionally protected for adults.
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 ruled that parental controls should be used by families to block unwanted content, rather than the government determining what can and cannot be seen by everybody.