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Appeals Court Upholds COPA Decision 141

Posted by michael
from the make-no-law dept.
sconeu writes: "Wired News is reporting that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). The government's next move is to either appeal to the Supremes or ask for a full trial (IANAL - I don't understand why the radically different options)." The full decision is available on PACER. The appellate court was only affirming the temporary injunction against enforcement of the law that was issued earlier by the district court, there hasn't been a full trial of the law yet. Here's the ACLU press release.
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Appeals Court Upholds COPA Decision

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    IA of course NAL, bit my understanding of this decision is that it was just upholding an injunction. The full trial on all the information hasn't been heard yet, this is just a ruling on a motion about how things will remain during a trial.

    Although, my understanding of injunctions was that they were supposed to be quick by their nature and purpose, and not drag on for years. I didn't even know that they could be appealed...

    --Colbey (yes, I got the submission error too)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We at Andover.net appologize for any inconvenience you may be experiencing. We have temporarily removed all ability to post as a logged-in user. This course of action was due to the excessive number of Signal 11 troll accounts created.

    It will take Pater and the rest of the crew a little while to root out all the troll accounts, but once we've done so we expect /. to function much better in the near future.

    Estimated downtime is 11 hours.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 22, 2000 @03:32PM (#981668)
    I mean this is great news, and I like the fact
    that the decision was unanimous. However it
    still worries me that the majority of American
    politicians seems to have no regard for free
    speech whatsoever.

    It's fine that the courts throw out laws like
    that, but these laws shouldn't have passed in the
    first place. Protection of constitutional rights
    should be the task of the goverment, representatives and senators, too...

  • by pug23 (167080) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @03:35PM (#981669) Homepage
    Every time I read about the courts over-turning some insidious, obviously unconstitutional law, my first thought is "Good. Things are still right in the world, and someone is acting to preserve the ideas our country was founded on." The next thought that comes to mind, however, is "Why does it take the COURTS to do this?" Why don't the law-makers, the elected officials whom we have (theoretically) chosen to create the rules best suited to serve our society, care about the constitution? They seem to see it as an obstacle to be overcome in obtaining their objectives and personal agendas. I suppose that is all the more reason to thank whatever gods you may or may not believe in that the courts seem to take their responsibility to society seriously....
  • IMHO children can protect themselves. At least I can protect myself. I won't say hello to strangers online and go with them into the park.
  • by Seumas (6865)
    ...any communication for commercial purposes that includes any material that is harmful to minors, without restricting access to such material by minors...

    *cough*

    Does this mean Mattel will have to take down all of their Barbie-related websites?
    ---
    seumas.com

  • It's about time the people in power recognise that the internet transcends social and cultural barriers.

    At the end of the day i'm in the UK and it's perfectly legal for me to create a website with naked 16 year old school girls on it. In the US it would probably be considered kiddie porn!

    It's also acceptable here for a 10 year old to walk into any shop and buy a daily newspaper featuring topless girls in it. In other parts of europe it's acceptable to show sexually explicit adverts in the middle of cartoons.

    Yet in other cultures it's wrong for a women to show her face in public.

    I'm of the opinion that everyone should post and view material at their own discretion and follow the laws of their appropriate country. Certainly websites should have warnings before showing material which is likely to offend but at the end of the day parents should teach their kids to use the net responsibly.

    Anyway does the fact that the average 15 year old probably has a few jpgs tucked away under his virtual bed really do any great amount of harm?!
  • The court displayed great perception:
    Because material posted on the Web is accessible by all Internet users worldwide, and because current technology does not permit a Web publisher to restrict access to its site based on the geographic locale of each particular Internet user, COPA essentially requires that every Web publisher subject to the statute abide by the most restrictive and conservative state's community standards in order to avoid criminal liability. Thus, because the standard by which COPA gauges whether material is "harmful to minors" is based on identifying"contemporary community standards" the inability of Web publishers to restrict access to their Web sites based on the geographic locale of the site visitor, in and of itself, imposes an impermissible burden on constitutionally protected First Amendment speech.
    i.e., no geographical location means no community standards.
  • by Asic Eng (193332) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @03:43PM (#981674)
    The internet was never intended for kids.
    In the beginning of the net it was almost
    exclussively accessible by adults, and there
    was always talk about sex.

    Nobody ever claimed - "here is the internet, it's
    a free babysitter." Protecting children from the
    net is easy: don't give them access.
    You need a babysitter? Hire a babysitter!

  • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Thursday June 22, 2000 @03:43PM (#981675) Homepage

    The ruling today was on a ACLU request for a preliminary injunction to prevent the application of the law while waiting for it to undergo review. They won an earlier, lower court ruling for an injuction, which is what was appealed. The government now has the option of trying to appeal the preliminary injuction further or to stop fighting it and go to the full trial that would shut down COPA completely.

    It's pretty clear that a preliminary injunction has to be granted in this case; the ACLU has a pretty damn strong case, and they can show a real risk of harm if the COPA is enforced. That means that an appeal to the Supreme Court on the injunction is unlikely to get anywhere, which is why Wired is reporting that the government is leaning toward going to a full trial. After all, the sooner the appeals are over, the sooner the case can be brought to a conclusion.

  • Look,

    I know this is not going to be a popular opinion on this thread. However, I have four little trolls at home, 4,6,8 and 10 respectively, all have PC's in their rooms and all have net access. I lock their browsing down pretty hard, but we all know that only goes part of the way. The other two parts is one, for me as a parent to teach and inform my kids that there are plenty of nutcases out there, both in the park and on the net, and that there are rules for social interaction. Things like no talking to strangers etc. Some of the rules we have on surfing are, never give out your name, address, age, etc. The same holds true for the park and other such analogies.

    The second is here in the U.S. we have some pretty weak laws on protecting children from creeps who like to prey on little kids, note I said "little" IMO this means around 15 or younger. I figure around 16 or so they are pretty well going to make their own decisions anyway. The laws we have both in the real world and on the net are weak for protecting children and although I have some problems with this peice of legislation, I believe that the intent is good. I think the ACLU should just butt out and let a relatively good concept evolve and not have the rights of child preditors change the effect it was trying to have in the first place.

  • by 1DeepThought (118171) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @03:44PM (#981677) Homepage
    Well this looks like a great decision to me and another step in the right direction. You guys in the U.S.A. seem to keep having wins against your authorities over these issues. I don't think you realise how good you have it some times.

    Where I am from (*.au*) we have no right to freedom of speech in our constitution. This is in a country most people would have called free until recently. I am sure you have heard what our gouvernment has done. Our politicians try and tell us that freedom of speech is implied in our constitution. This only seems to apply when it suits them and fundamentalist pressure groups.

    Although the censorship laws introduced here have been largely ineffective so far they are still there and may be enforced with greater effort in the future. A scary situation for sure.

  • ...the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act [coppa.org]? The BBS software [ultimatebb.com] that I use at my site's BBS [oscarfish.com] has a section dedicated to COPPA compliance; I wrote mine like this:

    • I do not comply with COPPA regulations. Government authorities may send threatening letters to legal@oscarfish.com [mailto].

    I don't believe in COPPA regulation and will not comply with it as long as I possibly can.

  • Well, I'm 15, the above comment was sort of a test comment which would seem semi-ontopic in the rare event that it would actually have posted under my UID (a few minutes ago /. wasn't posing other than AC for some reason). But I think that little ones should have their browsing restricted or at least monitored, the Internet has many paralells to the real world, just the anomnity which allows a ten year old to walk into an online porn shop as easially as a 25 year old could makes it a much worse place for young children. You wouldn't give your kids free run in a large city? Then why would you sit them down in front of a PC and tell them to keep away from porn?

  • by MrLizard (95131) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @03:49PM (#981680)
    ..is there anyone in the Justice Department who sincerely believes these laws are constitutional, or, for that matter, anyone in Congress? The JD's defense of the CDA (especially considering the Pitbullesque tenacity they've shown in the Microsoft case) was legendarily tepid -- sure, they had a weak case to begin with, but they fought it very poorly. (Not that I'm not happy with the results!)

    I cannot help but conclude that these laws are passed, and then defended, solely to please loud-mouthed, small-minded (Hello, Jodi!), and deep-pocketed constituencies (who likewise know they're bad laws, but are merely trying to have something to tell the little old ladies who send them their social security money every month). It seems it's all a collossal con game, a waste of taxpayer money, and the only people being fooled by it are some inbred trailer-park goobers somewhere in the Deep South. (Hello again, Jodi!)

    Apologies, Sincere, 1 Each, if this has been posted multiple times. I kept getting 'unknown error'.

  • This part of the decision, however, is scary:

    In affirming the District Court, we are forced to recognize that, at present, due to technological limitations, there may be no other means by which harmful material on the Web may be constitutionally restricted, although, in light of rapidly developing technological advances, what may now be impossible to regulate constitutionally may, in the not- too-distant future,
    become feasible.
    (emphasis added)
  • > it's perfectly legal for me to create a website
    > with naked 16 year old school girls on it
    >
    Wouldn't this fall under existing British
    obscenity laws?
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @03:53PM (#981683) Homepage
    Based on your text, you seem to think the Constitution is a list of suggestions, not the foundation of our country.

    Good parenting is not something that can be legislated into existance, and laws already exist that come down _hard_ on the real predators out there. This act merely takes more rights away from adults and does little to protect children. It's like outlawing guns, the only people who won't own guns are people who follow laws. Of course, the criminals will hold onto their guns, and the end result will be that the criminals have been empowered. These types of poorly thought out laws are foolish, and only fools are deceived by them.

    Creating more laws isn't the answer, better education of both parents and children is.
  • Agreed,

    Howeever the intent of the original legislation is to put part of the burden on the sites themselves. Using your analogy it would be the same as holding a pr0n shop liable if a ten year old kid walked in and started flipping through the magazines.

    The main area of trouble for the bill, or series of bills is that the net is not just in the U.S. and much of the legislation was written as such. You'd think they would have learned by now. Anyway, along with the international mess, the ACLU jumped in and made things worse by crying foul that the bill(s) would restrict free speech.

    I can see their point but, again using your analogy, it would be like the pr0n shop having their wares out in a mall in full display to everyone, including kids. Frankly I like the legislations concept and as unpopular as it is here, I would much rather see a little more lick down on the sites than put my kids at risk from some shithead who has a warped mind.

  • First, the two options are disparate because this is a preliminary injunction that is being reviewed. Basically, the trial court was asked to make an interim emergency decision. Such decisions are immediately appealable even though the case is nowhere near the final trial.

    The main point is that the government is trying to regulate obscene speech in this case. As a policy matter, it isn't clear why speech dealing with sexual matter directed towards gratification of baser instincts gets hammered so badly in First Amendment law, but that's the way things have shaken out.

    How do you know what's obscene? You apply local community standards. Now, if you have strip joint, where the local community is is pretty clear. On the net, of course, it's anything but. That's a pretty tough issue that is going to be essential to any trial. In meatspace dealings, you can count on the fact that the jurors are locals, so they can apply what they think the local standard is. Getting them to apply something other than their intuitive evaluation ought to be a trick. (One Supreme Court Justice said he couldn't define obscentity, but he knew it when he saw it. At least the jurors were getting the same opportunity, eh?)

    The whole problem there is, at least the owner of a strip joint has a chance in hell of knowing that the other (local) people in the area think. He has a fighting chance at least. Not so on the in (distributed population) cases like this. We are one nation, but we've tolerated a law that had obscenity meaning different things in California and Tennessee. Maybe (too much to hope) this case would give the courts a chance to make law that tried to recognize that this is ONE country. (Gotta ignore the international thing for now -- getting greedy is the fastest way to lose.)

    The Supreme Court shouldn't be hearing this one yet, if ever. If the government wants to insist on its trial, then let it have it. Let it lose. Congress, by repeatedly overreaching to regulate speech on the net is writing the law against itself case by case.

    It is sort of entertaining that a new stupidity by Congress (speech regulation on the net) smacks into an old stupidity of the Supreme Court (local standards for Constitutional decisions) here. Maybe the Supreme Court wakes up, and something good comes of this.

  • Its good to see this struck down and to see that some people still value free speech. Some other important legislation that effects free speech and linking of the net is the bill known as the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act.

    One of the main problems with the bill is this:

    Additionally, the bill would allow federal law enforcement officers to search people's homes while they're not there and copy their computer files without notifying them for months, possibly years, that the police were in their homes.

    Some coverage can be found here [drcnet.org].

  • by MAXOMENOS (9802)

    I was under the impression that PACER is a pay-per-view system. How is it, then, that we are seeing this copy of the COPA opinion?


    The Second Amendment Sisters [sas-aim.org]

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @03:57PM (#981688) Homepage Journal
    There is nothing for 4 or 5 or even 10 year olds to do on the WEB anyway. There probably should be a TLD created for kids only so that ALL other domains would be forbidden for them... Let say: www.toys.kid - this could be a toy site and it's easy to filter it out, so then www.adulttoys.com you don't look at 'adulttoys' you look at '.com' and forbid it.
    BTW I am 24 so I earned my right to look at www.adulttoy.com :]
  • by aufait (45237) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @03:57PM (#981689) Homepage
    IANAL either, but I will take a stab at explaining why they have the different options.

    The day after COPA became law, the ACLU and several website owners filed in District Court, a challange COPA. (A lawyer will have to explain how they could do this. I thought that someone had to be actually charged with violating the law in order to question the constitionality of a law.) The ACLU immmediately applied for a preliminary injuction that would stop the government from enforcing COPA until after the trial. The judge held a 5 day hearing on the preliminary injunction and then granted it.

    The government appealed that ruling. Since the circuit court, the government has the option to appeal the circuit court's ruling to the Supreme Court.

    Remember that this is a preliminary injunciton. That meens that no trial has been held to determine the facts of the case. The court uses some guidelines in deciding to grant a preliminary injuction. Some of them include the likelyhood of the party winning at the actual trial and the damage done to both parties if the injuction is granted or not granted.

    So what the District Court judge and the Circuit Court said was basically: Although no trial has been held yet, we think that this party is likely to win at the actual trial and more damage would be done to that party if we don't grant the injuction than done to the opposing party if we do grant the injunction.

    This explains the second option. If the government doesn't want to appeal the preliminary injunction to the Supreme Court, they have to go back to the District Court for a full trial to see who wins at the actual trial. (Of course, there is a third option, which is that the government just drops the case.)

    The irony of the case is that the ACLU and the websites will be trying to prove that their web sites ARE harmful to minors, while the DOJ and the anti-porn people are going to be trying to prove that these websites are NOT harmful to minors.

    Why? Because if the websites are not harmful to minors, then the websites have no "standing" to challenge the law. The District Court would rule that they are in no danger of being charged under COPA so the case is dismissed, the preliminary injuction is lifted, and the government can go back to enforcing COPA without having to worry about the Supreme Court throwing out the law.
  • Alas, I don't have a reference, but not to long ago the Supreme Court (or maybe just one of the justices) was complaining about the same thing and cautioned congress to stop passing unconstitutional laws.

    Steve M

  • C'mon Lizard, you know the answer. There are plenty of people who believe that even if these censorship laws aren't Constitutional, they should be, and it's just the gol-durn Liberal judiciary which doesn't have the Constitution right.

    And those people vote.

  • I'm not going to get into the whole gun debate thing.

    I generally favor fewer laws and less government in my life. This is different for me. Maybe that means I'm not a firm in my principals as I thought, but I know a lot about this bill and overall thing that it started out as good legislation. It really doesn't take rights away from the general adult population, it enables the law enforcement community to come down much harder on the bad guys. Also it hold the U.S. based sites to a standard that has a somewhat higher ethical value. I'm sorry, but I think that's a good thing for the country.

    I agree that more and better education of both parents and children is the longer term answer, however also don't forget the legislators. They need educating as well.

    Bottom line, I know it's my resposibility as a parent to teach and protect my kids, but I don't want to keep them locked in a closet until they are 18 either.

  • If kids actually had parents these days (instead of being parented by a combination of TV, video games, flashy toys, edutainment-ware, and Net-Nanny), maybe we wouldn't have to rape the constitution to "protect the children".

    Here's a thought, keep track of what little Johnie does on the computer etc. and when he does something you don't approve of, admonish him. Wow, shocking, who would have thought of such a revolutionary idea.

    Here's another though, maybe you should kick Johnie out of the house and force him to play in the yard every now and then. If you're under 12 and you don't spend a lot of time outdoors messing around in the dirt, there's something wrong with you (IMO).

  • At the end of the day i'm in the UK and it's perfectly legal for me to create a website with naked 16 year old school girls on it

    Yup they are called models, and all grow up to be wired on crack and (insert word meaning disease that makes you think you are fat when you are emaciated [RAM error])

    Forget porn, ban the fashion industry!

    I'd have thought that this law would only apply in the US anyway (naive or what). Also wasn't it mostly to prevent commercial exploitation of children online more than anything? (umm I mean advertising, email gathering etc, not bunging them down t' mine)

    the jpegs don't matter at all if it is just porn, but there are far worse things out there, spent ages trying to avoid people giving me URLs to some of the things that happened during the riots in Indonesia...

  • There are at least two very good reasons why we don't need our lawmakers to try to pass such badly thought out laws.

    First, for all of the behaviours you indicate, there are already laws on the books to deal with them. A child molester (etc.) is breaking existing laws, regardless of the mechanism they use to commit their crime. Instead of trying to circumvent the Constitution, our lawmakers should be advocating the enforcement of existing laws, and they should also be actively engaged in removing laws that serve no legitimate purpose (for example the DMCA and laws against consensual adult activities), and which also use up resources better used to combat real crimes.

    Second, as a parent, do you *really* want the government to have that much of a say in how you raise your children? NO amount of legislation will protect children if the parents fall down on the job. From the sound of it, you do a decent job of monitoring your children's activities (on and off of the web), and that works infinitely better than ANY possible amount of government intervention and laws.

  • The irony of the case is that the ACLU and the websites will be trying to prove that their web sites ARE harmful to minors, while the DOJ and the anti-porn people are going to be trying to prove that these websites are NOT harmful to minors.

    Why? Because if the websites are not harmful to minors, then the websites have no "standing" to challenge the law. The District Court would rule that they are in no danger of being charged under COPA so the case is dismissed, the preliminary injuction is lifted, and the government can go back to enforcing COPA without having to worry about the Supreme Court throwing out the law.

    IANAL either, but wouldn't they just have to argue that under this law they would be considered harmful to minors and not that they actually are harmful?

    SteveM

  • It's pretty obvious: they're trying to place a cookie to track anonymous users, so that your reading patterns can be tracked even if you're not logged in. Better user tracking == more advertising revenue.
  • Nope

    It is legal for anyone above the age of consent (16) to be in pornographic material.

    However if they display full frontal nudity then they cannot buy the pictures of themself until they turn 18 :)

    Strangely it is illegal to show an erect penis in Britain... not that it overly bothers me.

    At the end of the day I see no reason why nudity is so frowned upon in the USA. Anyway the book of Genisis Chap 3, Verse 18 implies that covering oneself up is a sin. Surely it should be left to the individual to decide upon their moral values.

  • >I'd have thought that this law would only apply in the US anyway (naive or what). Also wasn't it mostly to prevent commercial exploitation of children online more than anything? (umm I mean advertising, email gathering etc, not bunging them down t' mine)

    That is really why it's so ludicrous. What is the point in creating this law in the US. Sites in amsterdam will still have school girls doing whatever the american perverts want to pay for. And existing american sites will be forced to relocate to other countries, and yet still provide exactly the same service... but putting more stress on the already saturated transatlantic lines.

    And again in some countries commercial exploitation of children is a way of life. I'm sure there are plenty children in indonesia who are far more exploited than the typical western brat who wants the latest pokemon gizmo. Again in my mind the solution is to have their parents properly supervise internet usage.

    In many ways the internet is like a city. It has good neighbourhoods and bad neighbourhoods and any parents that let a young child roam about freely isn't really fit to be a parent.
  • Unfortuantely, Clinton's administration has come with a new way to skirt both the congress and the constitution: legistation through litigation.

    Take an unpopular industry (currently tabbacco and gun makers), sue the shit out of them, rack up expensive legal bills for them, and hope they settle before a ruling. Settlements can not be challenged on consitutinal grounds and no congressional votes are needed.

    Whatever a person's views on guns and smoking are, they should be appalled by this tactic since there is no checks and balances to prevent abuses.
  • by orpheus (14534) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @04:14PM (#981701)
    A of course NAL, bit my understanding of this decision is that it was just upholding an injunction. The full trial on all the information hasn't been heard yet, this is just a ruling on a motion about how things will remain during a trial.

    Although, my understanding of injunctions was that they were supposed to be quick by their nature and purpose, and not drag on for years. I didn't even know that they could be appealed...


    While I've only begun my research, here are a few resources that you -- and others should probably look into.

    (It takes me a while to dig and digest info before I reply. I wonder how many people come and go before I can post)

    The history of the ACLU challenge [epic.org] to COPA, including the filings, injunctions and hearings.

    The Appellee brief [epic.org] (the basis of appeal) in the recently decided case, so you can see the issues that were specifically raised

    And of course, no discussion can be complete without COPA itself [uscourts.gov]

  • I think one of the main points they are trying to make is that the law wouldn't do any good at all, e.g. it is as if your kids had a teleport, ok in the US a porn shop should be liable if they let kids in, but in Thailand? (I know it is a great country really if you can avoid the sleaze), also you have to imagine that your kids can appear to be any age they wish when they teleport. (oops just reread your post, repeating what u said partially, sowwie)

    The only way that the US could enforce such a law would be by blocking packets when they reach the country, essentially censoring the Internet, or, by attempting to enforce the ruling in non US countries. Neither of which I can see being awfully popular moves, even if not entirely out of character.

    The only people that can do anything without submitting the whole shebang to government/international agency control is the end user. Unfortunate I guess since most people aren't going to do much than hide the virtual vids in the virtual sock drawer.

  • ... we really owe thanks to the 27th Amendment:

    No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

    If that's not an obstacle to personal agendas throughout Congress, I don't know what is.

  • Hopefully they don't mean "regulate" (as in restrict content) but in fact mean that various filtering/tracking software will become better / more sophisticated and will actually WORK.
  • Isn't that a little short sighted?

    This isn't about "winning over government" it is about protecting kids from inappropriate sites and putting some some punishment teeth into existing laws. The censorship laws here (US) also have been largly ineffective, this legislation provides some hard and clear avenues for protecting privacy of not just the sites, but also the visitors, especially if their kids.

  • Nope. They are very clear, elsewhere they talk about "making congressional regulation to protect minors from harmful material on the Web constitutionally practicable".
  • They have to show that they would probably be charged with a violation. I am not sure what the standard for that would be, whether it is that the actually are "harmful to minors" or the DOJ would consider them "harmful to childern". In either case, the DOJ is going to be arguing that these particular websites are NOT "harmful to children".

    It would be interesting if DOJ wins. Can they then turn around and prosecute these same sites for violating the law? Or, are these particular sites immune from prosecution?
  • Second, as a parent, do you *really* want the government to have that much of a say in how you raise your children?

    Of course not. In this case it is more directed at the sites that have pr0n available without validation that the individual accessing the content is mature enough to view it. I like this legislation for two reasons, one it does help me protect my kids, and two, at work it can help me keep staff from surfing pr0n sites etc. from my network. This for some could be hugely beneficial. Although to be honest, most of our surfing time at work seems to be done here at /.

  • They are very clear that they do not like the decision they rendered, and hope they can decide differently someday.

    They talk about technology as making congressional regulation constitutionally practicable

    In so affirming, we approvingly reiterate the sentiments aptly noted by the District Court: "sometimes we must make decisions that we do not like. We make them because they are right, right in the sense that the law and the Constitution, as we see them, compel the result." Reno III, 31 F. Supp. 2d at 498.25 We also express our confidence and firm conviction that developing technology will soon render the "community standards" challenge moot,
    thereby making congressional regulation to protect minors from harmful material on the Web constitutionally practicable. Indeed, in the context of dealing with technology to prevent the "bleeding" of cable transmissions, the Supreme Court in United States v. Playboy Entertainment Group, Inc., 2000 WL 646196 at *4 (U.S. May 22, 2000) recognized, as do we, that "technology may one day provide another solution."
    (emphasis added)
  • The government's next move is to either appeal to the Supremes or ask for a full trial (IANAL - I don't understand why the radically different options)."

    There was no final decision on appeal, just an interim (interlocutory, in lawspeak) appeal from the preliminary injunction finding the law unconstitutional. Interlocutory jurisdiction is proper (indeed on an expedited basis) when an injunction is granted or upheld.

    This is a particularly important issue in a First Amendment censorship case. There, the government bears the burden to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the law was necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest and that no less intrusive means suffice to serve that interest. This is an enormous burden, which the government almost always loses.

    On the record, the factfindings of the District Court make it peculiarly difficult for the government to win on appeal. Although there was an extensive hearing with detailed factfindings, the government may want to take a second byte at the Apple with the district court to make a record more suitable for Supreme Court review. If they go straight to the Supremes, the case will be decided (at least for the moment) primarily in view of the factfinding, which the Supes may not question absent clear mind loss on the District Court judge.

    On the other hand, if they go straight up, and Supes affirm, they can still go back down, make their record, and go all the way back up after the final decision.

    That's the ropes of the American justice system.

    Hope this was of interest.

    Best,
    A
  • But I'm just too tired and cynical today to care.

    Maybe another time.

  • The court of appeals: Protecting your right to say "fuck" on the Internet since 1778.

    Pity the aussies don't have anything like that...

  • Although I agree with your post in what I thing was your point, I do find it a little insulting that just because my kids have access to the net you make the assumtion that they are on it every waking hour.

    I make a good living and have the opportunity to provide my kids with technology that will hopefully help them to broaden their futures and help them be successfull in whatever they decide to do with their lives. Honestly most of what the boys do is play games for an hour or so on shockwave and the girls surf sailor moon sites. Outside of tht they get plenty of "dirt" time, as well as what I feel is a good solid family life.

  • Congress has been largely ignoring parts of the Constitution they don't like for a long time, especially in regard to the 10th Amendment. The federal government is too distant from the people to make universal laws which control local issues and often, what's needed in one state isn't needed in another. The federal government has the job of regulating interstate affairs, coining common currency and protecting our country from those who seek to harm it. Article 1, Section 8 clearly defines the scope of the federal government - it doesn't mention making laws on hate crimes, socialistic/welfare programs, retirement programs, etc.

    Today, the First Amendment is under attack by both the right (pr0n) and left (religion, campaign finance), the second is under attack by the left, the fourth in the name of drugs and children, and the ninth and tenth have long been forgotten.

    The members of Congress often bow to the pressures of lobbyists because their sole goal is to get re-elected. Corporations don't have an inherent right to free speech, as they aren't a person, and thus, they shouldn't be able to contribute to political campaigns/give favors. HOWEVER, all of the money given to politicians by corporations, unions, etc means nothing if they severely piss off their constituents. Most people really don't pay much attention to what their government is doing unless it has a direct and immediate impact on them so most of the crap skates by... however, can you imagine the headlines in the local paper? "Congresscritter votes against bill to protect children from online molesters" Every parent in the district would be screaming for their head - it's political suicide. For as much as the Congress ignores the Constitution when it's convenient, people (en masse) today lack the understanding and foresight to understand the damage of Unconstitutional laws, especially if they convinced they'll get all those "millions" of perverts waiting online, and the harm they will bring.

    Every issue tends to be demagogued these days... whether it's how many child seeking perverts are on the internet( probably FAR less than 1 in a million ), how many "innocent" kids died from guns last year( about 4000 child deaths, 85% of which were 16-19, 90% of which were drug/gang related - more innocent kids drowned in pools ), racism, or whatever. Nobody cares about the facts or what's right or wrong anymore, it's all about what makes the mass feel good. Nobody analyzes the harm that can be caused by these laws and proposed Constitutional amendments( the greatest threat of all ). Politicians cave so quickly to their constituents these days that instead of doing what's right they do what won't harm them come re-election. We're quickly approaching tyranny by (often apathetic, always ignorant) majority.

  • I don't know if this movement can be construed as scary, as you may believe.

    Have you ever tried to herd 435 cats (I'm sorry, congressmen)? It can be difficult, and this isn't an issue that everyone will automatically rally around.

    Also, the Playboy case is a bit different because it involved people involuntarily recieving the not-so scrambled signals into their homes. At least on the Net you have to point and click to get to the place where you aren't supposed to be.

  • > I cannot help but conclude that these laws are passed, and then defended, solely to please loud-mouthed, small-minded ...

    I wonder whether you can sue legislators who pass unconstitutional legislation. Clearly, they violate our civil rights whenever they do so.

    --
  • The net was never intended for eCommerce, nor for lame home pages, nor for day trading, nor for Slashdot ... in fact it was never intended for us at all.
  • "there are far worse things out there, spent ages trying to avoid people giving me URLs to some of the things that happened during the riots in Indonesia..."

    ...care to elaborate on this? I'm none but an ignorant American after all.. =)
  • > No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.

    Wonder why it doesn't apply to compensation from lobbyists.

    --
  • Censorship is always popular with Congress.

    The Court was just borrowing the quote and sentiment from the Playboy case, that was evident.

  • There are plenty of checks and balances--suit can only be brought under statute legislated by Congress (one check) or under a common law tort theory (which results from, literally, hundreds of years of court decisions fine tuning the tort's elements (another balance).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Instead of wanting laws enacted to help you spoil your kids and make them think they can have everything, why not take the PCs *out* of each of their rooms, and put them in a central location where you can monitor their activities? Better yet, make them share 1 PC. The rest of the world shouldn't have to suffer because you choose not to take initiative and police your own damn kids.

    Filters, proxies, and firewalls are useful tools in the right hands, but that's as far as it should go. I don't need Big Brother watching over me becuase he thinks I might go harm one of those oh-so-precious kids.

    If you can't keep a close enough eye on your kids to know when they might be getting in trouble, *you* have to change the situation so that you can. No law is going to protect your kids 100%.

    The law only stops honest people who probably were not going to commit the crime anyways. Criminals will find a way through regardless.
  • I'd prefer to receive Slashdot's apology rather than Andover's. After all, I'd hate to think Andover is micromanaging Slashdot.
  • by Adolf_Hitler (199999) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:09PM (#981724)
    Yet again, this decision shows how the United States government, originally formed for the protection of people oppressed by European rule, has it's priorities all wrong. People who are exploiting childern for finantial gain are put ahead of the American youth - the American Future.

    The People of the United States of America must get out of their Who Wants To Be A Millionare, McMeal, Pokemon daze and realize that consumerism is bad for the people. It is very obvious that a new political system, one that is much more socialist, with the people much more in focus, must be implemented! The future of this great country depends on it. Do you want the rich members of the MPAA running your life? Do you want the rights of Doubleclick put ahead of your childern?

    I sure don't.

    A.H.

    "If you wish the sympathy of the broad masses, you must tell them the crudest and most stupid things."

  • It was Antonin Scalia who took Congress to task for passing unconstitutional laws and relying on the courts to sort things out.
  • I agree that protecting privacy is very important, particularly for children and others that don't know better. Children should also be protected from inapropriate content. However, I don't believe it is your gouvernments or mines job to do that.

    Adults should not be denied access to legal content to protect children. The children should be supervised by their parent/guardian/teacher. These carers need to take responcibility and make decisions about what is or is not appropriate for the minors in their care.

  • I do monitor their activities, and I agree that the tools only go part of the way, and I agree that no law is going to go 100%. I simply think that this is a good thing, because mainly I believe I'm the exception, not the rule. Most wired PC's that kids have access to have zero tools in place, no parental control and this puts the kids at risk. Sorry if you disagree, but I happen to be a good parent with good kids and I want my kids to be safe. The rest of the world suffering? come on. Look, I do police my kids and I took the time to look and read ALL of this bill, did you? Doubt it. I support the bill because i like the values it tries to uphold, it has nothing to do with wether or not I police my kids, which I do. How many kids you got? if you had any that were old enough to be net literate, I doubt if you;d hold the same perspective.
  • this [fica.org] kind of thing, actually plenty of places other than indonesia. Also nothing new I guess, remember some books my parents had when I was a kid, a pictorial history of WWII, nice embossed blue covers, not so nice pics inside. Or of course Time magazine....
  • by void* (20133) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:46PM (#981729)
    I simply think that this is a good thing, because mainly I believe I'm the exception, not the rule.

    Practically -everyone- believes that they're the exception, and not the rule. (or that 'their kids' are the exception, and not the rule). I remember being 15, and having elderly people tell me "you're such a nice boy, you never see nice kids anymore, they're always running around robbing places ..". A big part of this is the media portrayal of things, only a small percentage of the population is actually doing the evil things you see on t.v., but people think it happens more than it does because that's all they see on the news. The other part of this is that people react with fear and hostility to whatever they don't understand, and the age/culture gap contributes to a lack of understanding. I see this general effect happening with issues regarding the net more often now, i.e. there will be a story somewhere about how fbi agents arrested the vice president of some large corporation in a sting where the fbi agent was pretending to be a 14 year old girl, and then I'll go get on a train and hear people talking (or read an editorial in a newspaper) about how the net is so dangerous. It's positively annoying.

    anyway, anytime you think you're the exception, and not the rule, it's time for a good long review of the matter at hand, imho.


  • Every issue tends to be demagogued these days... whether it's how many child seeking perverts are on the internet( probably FAR less than 1 in a million ), how many "innocent" kids died from guns last year( about 4000 child deaths, 85% of which were 16-19, 90% of which were drug/gang related - more innocent kids drowned in pools ), racism, or whatever.



    I suppose "whatever" includes the issue of respecting the Constitution. :(



    I would agree with you if you said that factionalism is alive, kicking, and (be it proud or futile) beating on the chest of our republic. But I would also take a cue [mcs.net] from Madison; I think all the bickering is healthy.



    Tim


  • by Chairboy (88841) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @05:54PM (#981731) Homepage
    > I'm not going to get into the whole gun debate thing.

    Ok, thanks for sharing.

    > It really doesn't take rights away from the general adult population,
    > it enables the law enforcement community to come down much harder on
    > the bad guys.

    This is the same logic used to justify 'Zero Tolerance' laws, and those have turned into huge examples of mis-use of law. The more powers you give law enforcement, the more they will be abused. It's not paranoid rambling, it's a truth of life.

    A decade ago, various law enforcement agencies were given almost cart blanche abillity to tap phone lines of suspected drug dealers. They were also given incredibly powers to confiscate money and possessions from people merely SUSPECTED of drug dealing, but they never had to prove a thing.

    The end result, thousands of innocents have their phones tapped, the whole judge-approval for taps has become a joke, and thousands of people have possessions and money confiscated at gunpoint by police officers and never get any of it back, even when there is no evidence of drug dealing at all.

    When these draconian measures were implemented, the people objecting were branded paranoid and condescendingly told by people like you that 'the only people that will be affected by these laws are law breakers. They will just let the police come down harder on lawbreakers, not you and I. And why object to phone taps? If you're not doing anything illegal, what do you have to hide?'

    Sound familiar?

    The US, despite our vaunted claims to freedom, is being systematically dissected and legislated into a religious police state. The same thing happened in Iran 20-30 years ago, and it's happening here too. COPA is just part of the process, and you're blind if you don't see it.
  • Would this also apply to the MS case? (unpopular industry) maybe we should be taking a leaf from the ACLU's book and defending them as well.

    Suspect this probably isn't the case though, monopoly tactics vs citizen safety?

  • Adults should not be denied access to legal content to protect children

    Agreed, but that's what the bill states. In short terms, it is enforcing validation of age, prior to accessing the sites, not denial.

  • At the end of the day I see no reason why nudity is so frowned upon in the USA.

    It's not about protecting children - obviously. Real young 'uns think that sex is icky (when they think about it at all); older ones are already drenched in hormones. It's the grownups who are nervous or scared and are using "protecting kids" as an excuse to avoid deal with their own problems. A lot of popular U.S. culture hasn't outgrown its roots in puritanism and religious psychosis.

  • Blockquoth the poster:
    i.e., no geographical location means no community standards
    Or, maybe, no geographical locations means "community" is not the same as "locale". In other words, there is a community on the 'Net -- heck, there are zillions of distinct communities on the 'Net -- but they are no longer defined via geographical proximity. Communities in cyberspace are built on shared interests and that's about it. As such, it becomes hard to even create the idea of community standards, let alone enforce them.

    I had a rancorous debate with a philosophy professor awhile back (Hi, Nell!). She maintained that the Net was eroding community and leading to isolation and despair. Offered as examples were the declining role of local lodges, the Boy Scouts, etc. (OK, to be fair, she was indicting more than the Net; she went after all of modern American sociology.) I countered that there were still communities, but they had been freed of the shackles imposed by the need for geographical poximity.

    In other words, these communities are more of the mind than of the body. In many ways, this is healthier and more beneficial.

    I'm not sure how that will play out in the area of regulating the Web. I think that, technologically, it is essentially impossible and people will eventually be forced to this frightening conclusion: Hey, I have to raise my own kids, because society can't and won't.

  • Very eloquent response.
  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @06:00PM (#981737)
    The issue deals with free speach. Laws regulating expression are given the strictest scrutiny. One of those conditions is the "least restrictive means" and other condititions like reasonable means.

    It is NOT unconstitutional to prohibit minors from certain material. Adults have full freedom of expression, minors have different levels of constitutional rights.

    If it was not an unreasonable burden upon publishers, than preventing minors from accessing the material is okay. However, if the burdens are unreasonable and would create a chilling affect on free speach, then it is not okay.

    If there was a system whereby people could post adult material and prevent minors from accessing it, then it would be okay. If the means to prevent minors from accessing it would restrict adult speach, than it is no good.

    For example, if everyone was issued a digital certificate that verified that they were an adult (age >18) at age 18, and that could be used without compromising any additional information, than it would be okay.

    For example, if Biometrics were common place, and your fingerprint could unlock the key to send, than this would not be an unreasonable burden. There would be no tracking (and therefore no chilling effect), and minors wouldn't have access to adult material.

    That would not be an unreasonable scenario nor likely unconstitutional.

    If a ratings system was in place that could truly categorize the site, than if you could screen based on locality without an undo burden, that would also be okay. Something like P3P (client negotiating with the system) would work, because it wouldn't chill free speach, but would allow community standards to reign.

    Alex
  • You know, part of the problem with why this law is being termed "unconstitutional" is because not only is it saying 'actual or simulated sexual acts' and such, but also reaches further to say 'any content that could be deemed harmfull to minors'. Who deems this content harmfull or not? Who decides, for the entire world, what is harmfull and what is not? Porn, yes, you may get most to agree on that, but what about educational sites? Some topics are not harmfull but informative, but to someone else, they say 'You can't say that!' and then get all up in arms. According to the law, if it's deemed 'harmfull', even if it's intent is educational, it's in violation of the law.

    The very anonymous nature of the internet makes it nearly impossible to determine who is telling the truth and who is lying. There's absolutely no frame of reference. Credit card numbers are irrelivent, because kids (smart ones, too) can go get daddy's credit card, write down everything on the front of it, and viola, they're into any porn site that protects based on 'having a credit card makes you an adult'. In Person, it's easy to see a person's size and go 'you're obviously too young', but from behind a computer screen, where even your image is interpreted by the PC before transmission, how can you tell?

    In the case of many porn sites, they already do such protections based on credit card numbers, and while that's not perfect by any means, it does tend to keep many kids out.

    Here's another thought for you. You say that this law is putting pressure on web admins to make their content 'kid-safe' (Well, maybe not outright stated it, but I felt it was implied). What if a web admin isn't writing the site for kids in the first place? How do you permit adults access yet bar kids? Without meeting a person face to face (which seriously hampers some transactions and makes it useless to attempt such a site), guarontee without a shadow of a doubt that the person entering is an adult. If you can come up with the solution for that, I can guarontee you'll be a multi-billion dollar person in a very short period of time. My Opinion? It can't be done in the conventional sense. It would take a major revision of the web to remove the anonymity, a revision that I can't imagine as going forth.

    My $.02

  • It's quite okay to say 'fuck' on the radio or TV here (free-to-air or cable). I wasn't quite sure that was the case in the States (for free-to-air, anyway).
  • Blockquoth the poster:
    in fact it was never intended for us at all.
    Um, whom do you mean by "us", Kemo Sabe?
  • Blockquoth the poster:
    This isn't about "winning over government"
    No. It's about
    * exercising prior restraint
    * demonizing sites
    * forcing sites to figure out how you want your children raised, because you can't be bothered
    * enabling selective enforcement
    * pandering to those who can't exert themselves to actually think on an issue
  • From http://www.brittanica.info/ (2010)...

    "So far no one has come up with a convincing explanation for the sudden emigration of thousands of North Americans, mostly computer professionals, to the United Kingdom in late 2000. This was a complete reversal to previous patterns, and is believed to be one of the main contributing factors to the downfall of Silicon Valley as the IT capital of the world."
  • If that's the case, then what do you need a law for? From the sounds of it, your kids are perfectly safe and don't need a law that will adversly affect other and fail to protect them anyway. I have kids of my own and I am concerned about there safety, but I take that into my own hands, thank you very much. The government (any government, not just the US) can go jump in the lake.
  • by gilroy (155262) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @06:17PM (#981744) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:
    I wonder whether you can sue legislators who pass unconstitutional legislation. Clearly, they violate our civil rights whenever they do so.
    From the US Constitution (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/const/const.html [loc.gov]), Article 1, Section 6:
    They [members of Congress] shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.
    I believe that this means that Senators and Representatives cannot be sued or arrested for any action taken as part of their duties, even if said action is later found to be unconstitutional. After all, a law isn't unconstitutional until the Supreme Court says it's unconstitutional -- a Senator can claim to have been acting in good faith.

    However, to be fair, there is a differing view at the US Government Printing Office Annotated US Constitution (http://www.access. gpo.gov/congress/senate/constitution/art1.html [gpo.gov]):

    This clause is practically obsolete. It applies only to arrests in civil suits, which were still common in this country at the time the Constitution was adopted. It does not apply to service of process in either civil or criminal cases. Nor does it apply to arrest in any criminal case. The phrase ``treason, felony or breach of the peace'' is interpreted to withdraw all criminal offenses from the operation of the privilege.
    Of course IANAL, so I can't really say what the application is.
  • It's about time the people in power recognise that the internet transcends social and cultural barriers.
    Oh, the PTB recognise it all right. That's the problem. They're fighting the transcendence of the net tooth and nail. Anything that bypasses the imposition of their rules is a "bad thing(TM)" and must be fought. Why else do you think it took this long before they started trying to pass such laws? They've only recently begun realising how empowering the internet is for the common person and they do not like it.
  • Blockquoth the poster:
    Maybe (too much to hope) this case would give the courts a chance to make law that tried to recognize that this is ONE country.
    Heavens, I hope not. Perhaps the only important thing contributed by Americans to the science of human governance has been the federal model: three independent systems with overlapping jurisdictions and separate processes. One of the consequences -- and I believe a good one -- is a natural aversion toward nationalization and centralization. Different places are different and it's wonderful that we recognize that.

    I cannot see it as a good if this law or a similar one goes any further towards eliminating the wonderful variety on the Net and moving towards even more of a homogenous gloop. I think the dot-coms are doing a good enough job of that already, thank you.

  • I don't care squat about the MPAA or Doubleclick. I want to be able to post anything I damn well please on my website [goingware.com] without interference from the government.

    Mike

    Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow.
  • Seriously. I was talking to my roommate about why marijuana should be legalized. I don't do drugs, so it would have almost no effect on me. She used to do pot regularly, and now only occasionally.

    And she didn't think marijuana should be legalized.

    (regardless of your position on the issue, it's the "I'm an exception" mentality that I'm illustrating.)

    ...and I thought that we read 1984 in school as a warning, not as a primer...
  • //initiate rant sequence


    Silly person. You are under the opinion that the American Goverment (I'm being rude and assuming you live in the us) actually is responsible for the repression of civil rights (and other assorted hollywood plots). But it's all about Big Buisness, the laws protect the companies, and the people are almost an afterthought.

    Rember like how it was the 1950's, and all these really neat folks got blacklisted becaues they may have possibly been linked to communism- the dreaded opposition of imperialism and exploitation? Or perhaps just 10 years ago when we fought the gulf war... and we got lots of feel happy goverment propaganda that helped fuel ethnic hatred about those damn iraquis- what the hell are they doing, attacking those poor innocent people?... when the only reason the usa was involved was so that Big Buisness would be in control of the oil so they could get rich by killing their planet.

    I think this is perhaps a little off topic, but i think it does have to do with the situation in some aspects. Rember when Gorbachov (my hero!) said that free speech was ok in the USSR, so then all this anti-gov't propaganda came out, and there was this coup, and it was all screwed up and confusing? Well, I think that freedom of though, freedom of alternative sources of goods and media and sex (does net porn hurt companies like playboy?) will hurt Big Business. And in the spirt of all things American, laws will be adapted by the right-wing-fascists to protect Big Buisness from *competition*, or horrible ideas that might make you think it is not cool to [pay a company [that gets people to pay them money to be a billboard] money to be a billboard] (say THAT 5 times real fast).

    But seriously, what's the diffrence between seeing nekkid ladies in the magazines under your friend's dad's bed and getting it from the net? I have been exposed to the Horrors of the free internet for most of my life. Hey guess what? Nothing happened (aside from growing more independant, caring, smart, computer literate, informed, more artistic, etc....)

    Sorry if that's a little off topic, but it's late, and the exhaust from all the SUV's is affecting my brain, and I'm a rebellious hooligan in the street who's been brainwashed by his deviant musical tastes so just leave it be :)


    //terminate rant sequence

  • If you like the fact that silly laws like COPA gets nullified think about supporting the ACLU. The minimum cost is around $25 / year and the information on what's going on regarding free speech is easely worth it. I have only been member for a year and regret not joining sooner.
  • by Captain Constitution (203455) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @08:33PM (#981759)

    We don't. The framework is all there in the Constitution and its respective amendments.

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    The above text forms the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, a purpose statement which indicates that the following legal document contains instructions on how to make a nation fit to live in.

    The 9th article of the Bill of Rights notes: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." COPA is a fine example of a violation of this article.

    Not only that, but in 267 U.S. 276 (1925), Fulton National Bank of Atlanta v. Hozier, the presiding judge remarked: "The general rule is that, when a federal court has properly acquired jurisdiction over a cause, it may entertain, by intervention, dependent or ancillary controversies; but no controversy can be regarded as dependent or ancillary unless it has direct relation to property or assets actually or constructively drawn into the court's possession or control by the principal suit."

    Why do we put up with this sort of thing? Because we don't vote. Exercise your constitutional right and vote in the upcoming elections!

  • I'm pretty happy about this for three reasons (or maybe four)

    reason the first: I don't have to implement the requirements for collecting information from minors (my comp collects info, voluntarily), sometimes kids wander by (they listen to the radio too). Less work for me, ergo, more /., yippee!

    second reason: We had a dept meeting about a month ago talking about how we would implement the stringent requirements, I said (cynically) "well, whatever, the thing is unconstitutional anyway."

    third reason: I think the DMCA is uncon. too.

    (four: DMCA dies a grisly death)

    --
  • by Wah (30840)
    this is a great idea. Makes it real easy hack into mozilla (or others) too. Anybody got ICANN's phone #?
    --
  • by mcelrath (8027) on Thursday June 22, 2000 @08:56PM (#981763) Homepage
    Not only does our government feel this pervasive need to do parenting for everyone, but they do so by making minors second class citizens. Minors are not afforded the protections of the constitution. It is completely legal to search & sieze their property (hey, they're kids, they can't own property anyway), censor their speech, and do other nasty things that they could never get away with for any other citizen.

    It's about time we recognized people of age less than 18 as people too. They should be afforded the same basic human rights as everyone else. Those rights that cannot be reasonably given to minors should be the responsibility of their parents, not the damn government. Not everyone has the same beliefs about parenting. Not every parent wants to lock their kid in a box to prevent them from harm. And parents should be allowed to let their kids grow, in any manner the parents see fit.

    What's even worse is that these damaging, unconstitutional attempts at censorship, vaulted into law in the name of save the children, have become a political tool. Congressmen know they're unconstitutional, but they get to look good by saving the children. We have devised a system of government where one branch gets its bread and butter by suckering extremist groups into voting for them, passing laws to appease them, and smoothing it all over with "save the children". Meanwhile another branch strikes down these laws one by one, but can't react quick enough.

    Enough of this. Every one of you go watch South Park the movie and think about it really hard. It's not just a funny movie, you know.

    --Bob

  • Apparantly there is a terrible amount of legislation, along with the wasted expense and time, necessary to make the Internet "kid friendly," so why not just cut the crap and make the smart decision: Ban kids from using the Internet. "Oh no," you say, "its such a wonderous resource for them to learn from! We can't do that!" Cry me a river; there is NOTHING available on the Internet that kids cannot get from somewhere else, and with reasonable ease. The best that I could do in high school is to dial into BBSs, looking for Doom WADs; sure as hell never found any research paper materials there. So how could I ever have possibly learned anything? I went to the friggin' library! I went to the museum! I picked up that dead tree copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica vol. 8 and started reading!

    Why in the hell does everything on the bloody planet have to be "kid friendly"? What about us adults; you know, the people responsible for actually keeping society running?!? A while back, the local gummint decided that full nudity in a strip club was unacceptable, so they passed a law that required a modicum of cover on the dancers. Know why? For the sake of children, according to the pencilheads that pushed it through. Since I haven't stepped foot in a strip club since I left the Navy, I shouldn't sweat it though, right? Hell with that, I was rightly pissed off. Restricting the behavior of consenting adults in a place that kids can't even enter?!? Shit, if that doesn't hammer down a precident...

    What the hell happened? I am really dying to know this, its not just rhetorical spewage. I would love to know what sickness has overcome this country that has everyone convinced that everything must revolve around the segment of the population that doesn't contribute anything to society except sewage and noise! I'm a father, I love my daughter dearly and would kill anyone who would try to harm her in any way; but by the same token, I am not such a repressed simpleton to think that other people's actions should be legislated just to grant her the ability to do something that she really doesn't need to be doing anyhow!

    Do I really think that children should be banned from using the Internet? No, of course not, but if the only other choice is to shape the Internet around children, then that's the vote I take. When it comes to government legislation, you can't have it both ways; there may be advantages to a new bill, but there will always be a corollary inherent to it as well. Its just a matter of how much freedom that you are willing to trade for security.

    Deo
  • State doesn't necessarily refer to one of the United States of America. It could refer to other nations as well.

  • COPA, as I'm sure everyone knows, is simply a continuation of the right wing's agenda to control what we see and hear. It was originally put forth as the CDA. The right wing has the power to put laws like this forth because its people vote. Needless to say, politicians respond to votes.

    Laws like the CDA and COPA make me very angry. Angry for what they represent and doubly angry for how the right tries to misrepresent them. The law is supposedly meant to "protect the children," when in fact that is simply a convenient and effective excuse to violate the rights of us all.

    Freedom of speech has as its counterpart the freedom to listen. If each of us is free to express our ideas or opinions, then likewise each of us is be free to choose which ideas and opinions we are an audience to. The CDA and COPA are attempts to take that choice away from us. Why? Because certain ideas and opinions go against what the right would like us all to believe and these same ideas and opinions cannot be easily discredited.

    The only effective means of mind control is information control. Control a person's information and you control the conclusions they reach.

    To attempt to do this violates a right which is even more fundamental than freedom of speech or the freedom to listen, and that is freedom of thought. What use is freedom of expression if the ideas and opinions expressed are not a person's own?

    Reading this you might think I'm a member of the left wing, well I'm not. The left is just as guilty of this and other things as the right. You might call me a libertarian but you'd be wrong. Many of my beliefs are libertarian in nature but I hardly subscribe to the philosophy as a whole. Pure libertarianism wouldn't work any better than any other system of government derived from ideology instead of reality.

    Unlike so many others I have the misfortune of knowing, my mind, and the thoughts which originate from it, are my own.

    Lee

  • I don't disagree with most of the rest of your post, but...

    The US, despite our vaunted claims to freedom, is being systematically dissected and legislated into a religious police state. The same thing happened in Iran 20-30 years ago, and it's happening here too.

    Iran had the shah's corrupt regime violently overthrown and Islamic law instituted overnight by the leaders of the revolution. Unless the framers of COPA are planning a coup d'état I find it rather difficult to draw any parallels here...

    Cheers,
    -j.

  • Socialism is simply (yet another) way in which the government would be in charge of the people instead of the other way around.

    It's like Winston Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others.

    Lee
  • I believe you've proved my point, that the decision is highly technology dependent.

    As I mentioned in another quote, the court quite specifically states that they "express ... confidence" at technology "making congressional regulation to protect minors from harmful material on the Web constitutionally practicable"

    They are not making a ruling that holds for all time. Rather, they are basing the current free-speech decision on a particular technological situation. As we all know, being netheads, technology changes rapidly.

    This is important. They did not make an eternal ruling. In fact, they actually hope their ruling will soon become moot! "We also express our confidence and firm conviction that developing technology will soon render the "community standards" challenge moot"

    This decison is a big win, but it's more tentative a win than might be apparent at casual understanding.

  • i beg to differ.

    most, if not all, of my research in high school came off the net, supplying everything from U2 photos from the Cuban Missile Crisis to a proof of a controversial theorem in Relativity. the Net was an incredible resource for me, since my high school was half an hour drive away from my home and my local library just plain sucked rocks.

    so children don't need to be banned from the internet. adults need to be banned from being absent from their children's lives. the internet is becoming another glass teat for parents that had children more to keep up with the Joneses than because they were genuinely interested in reproducing. society's gotta change, not us, dammit, because we got it right the first time.
  • no, dammit!

    you're falling into the same logic hole as all of the 'bad guys'.

    the net is great for learning. i read more (of substance, not alt.sex.stories either) daily on the web than i could realistically convince myself to buy on dead trees in a month.

    and isn't the restriction of information what we're trying to prevent? if we keep our children from accessing the net, we'll just be more deeply ingraining into society the belief that information should be carefully closeted away from public view.

    after all, to a ten year old, girls all have cooties anyway.
  • Every time I read about the courts over-turning some insidious, obviously unconstitutional law, my first thought is "Good. Things are still right in the world, and someone is acting to preserve the ideas our country was founded on."

    The powers that be are willing to take a few public defeats to disguise the fact that their plans are proceeding nicely outside the public view.

    As a rule, the general public is gullible, short-sighted and distractible. With a little legislative sleight-of-hand and a few well-timed scandals, it would be possible to pass the most egregious violations of civil liberties under the guise of "protecting the children" or "putting drug dealers behind bars."

    The next thought that comes to mind, however, is "Why does it take the COURTS to do this?" Why don't the law-makers, the elected officials whom we have (theoretically) chosen to create the rules best suited to serve our society, care about the constitution?

    Because the United States has a large population of easily bamboozled, apathetic people who are eligible to vote, and only half (or less) of them bother to do so. In a federal republic with a democratic foundation, the populace gets the government it deserves. If the people vote for candidates based on a few touchstone "issues" and media presence, rather than on overall, meaningful views, then nearly anyone who knows how to lie effectively could get to be in office.

    Granted, the fact that so many in the United States are apathetic and incapable of critical thought is not entirely their fault; a number of societal factors (from breaking up the nuclear family, to forcing parents to work long hours to keep food on the table and separating them from their children, to the use of the television as a babysitter, to the increasingly poor quality of public schooling, to name but a few) contribute to what is essentially the stupification of the citizenry.

    However, that is no excuse. These factors are only contributors; they cannot succeed if we recognize them for what they are and are prepared to take action against them. It's a hard world, and raising children and raising them well is the hardest thing that most of us will ever do. We owe it to them, and to ourselves, and to future generations, to make that effort, though.

    Fight the Power.

  • The decision is certainly another victory for free speech on the Internet (but possibly a transient one as Seth's comment [slashdot.org] indicates), but litigation like this is probably going to continue.

    The politicians that pass the legislation gain kudos with (parts of) the public in that they can shout loudly about how hard they're trying to protection children from the horrors of the net. They don't have to pay for the inevitable litigation to test the constitutionality of the laws, and can always stand before the cameras claiming that they did their best.

    In effect, they can use the constitution and the court system as an excuse for NOT balancing competing interests and NOT making the hard choices.

  • Lawmakers should be kicked out of office and new elections called when they propose and pass blatently unconstitutional legislation. Likewise for the president who signs such a bill into law.

    Both are violating their oath to their office to "uphold" the constitution and should be immediately removed for either (a) violating that oath or (b) gross incompetence.

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach

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