Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

Supreme Court Rules Against Anti-Porn Law 975

Posted by simoniker
from the legal-web dept.
Saeed al-Sahaf writes "From Fox News/AP, the Supreme Court has ruled that the COPA (Child Online Protection Act), passed in 1998 ostensibly to shield kids from Web porn, is probably an unconstitutional muzzle on free speech. This is not quite like 'striking the law down' because the court simply said a lower court was correct to block the law from taking effect, since it likely violates the First Amendment, and sent the law back to a lower court for trial. The American Civil Liberties Union and other critics of the antipornography law said that it would restrict far too much material that adults may legally see and buy, the court said."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Supreme Court Rules Against Anti-Porn Law

Comments Filter:
  • by miketang16 (585602) * on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:05AM (#9560942) Journal
    "The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a law meant to punish pornographers who peddle dirty pictures to Web-surfing kids is probably an unconstitutional muzzle on free speech." No... no... that's an objective fact-based introduction to the article.
    • by jmbauer (650575) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:07AM (#9560973)
      Actually, that's how AP wrote it, so many other newspapers are stating it the same way [google.com]. Fox News gets a pass this time ...
      • by revscat (35618) * on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:27PM (#9561982) Journal
        I know I'm going to come off as a rabid partisan, but I don't really care. The facts as I seem them point to the AP being only slightly less partisan than Fox News. This is the same organization who for three years couldn't mention Al Gore's name without finding a way to fit in "claimed to have invented the internet" or "liar" within 5 words of his name.

        The AP is like the rest of the media: it plays to the sanctimony when appropriate, and never criticizes military action or defense appropriations bills. And never, EVER interview a soldier on the ground; only interview Pentagon spokesmen who tell you how great things really are.

        • by Keebler71 (520908) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @01:11PM (#9562534) Journal
          Thats funny, I watch Fox News pretty much every day and I can't recall a single time that I have heard them reference "liar" or the internet claim. Since you have initiated a side-bar on journalistic integrity, perhaps you would like to back up your claims with some quotes.

          Bottom line, there is no such thing as "balanced" news. You have to get your news from multiple sources and balance it yourself. Hence why I listen to CSPAN (for speeches in my car),G Gordon Liddy (also in car for a whacked-out perspective), NPR (internet - for a very professional, polished and left-leaning perspective), CNN.com (for the details - rather moderate), and yes, Foxnews.com when I want the right slant (as annoying as their hosts are). If it is a story about the middle-east, I will often read Al Jazeera's English site [aljazeera.net] as well (very insightful).

          Speaking of that... it is funny how this [aljazeera.net] Al Jazeera story fails to mention that the Isreali victems were a three-year-old child and his father [bbc.co.uk] when a Hamas-claimed rocket impacted near a kindergarden [cnn.com].

          So is Foxnews "fair and balanced"? - Absolutely not. For me though, it is fair and balancing.

    • by Davak (526912) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:11AM (#9561005) Homepage
      If you want unbiased, read through the report yourself... If you are basing your opinion on any news station, you are not going to get the real story.

      Original Source of the Bill [copacommission.org]
      • by MooseByte (751829) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:57AM (#9561614)

        "If you want unbiased, read through the report yourself... If you are basing your opinion on any news station, you are not going to get the real story."

        Well, what you'll get instead is the bias of the person who wrote the report. ;-)

        The flipside is that many (most?) of us Americans seem too damned lazy to actually take the time to develop an informed, independent opinion on anything. We merely digest what we're spoon-fed. So if it's reported incorrectly there's no critical analysis. It's just accepted as fact. Lazy. Too damn lazy.

        An ignorant democracy is no democracy at all. Just a flock of sheep waiting for the most shiny light.

    • by no reason to be here (218628) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:11AM (#9561011) Homepage
      I was talking once to an associate of mine, and he was complaining about the left leanings of CNN and other news outlets, which is why he preferred Fox News Channel.

      I responded, "but they're even more right-wing than you could possibly accuse cnn of being left-wing. They certainly provide a far more biased assessment of the news."

      To this he responded, "Yeah, but Fox is more just commentary and editorials, not news reporting, unlike CNN or MSNBC."

      "But is says news right in the name!" I countered. "It's Fox NEWS Channel, not Fox Commentary Channel."

      Needless to say, he's not my friend anymore. /True story.
      • by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:18AM (#9561106) Homepage Journal
        If CNN is left wing, then I'm Miles Davis.
      • Pathetic (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Scott Richter (776062)
        I was talking once to an associate of mine, and he was complaining about the left leanings of CNN and other news outlets, which is why he preferred Fox News Channel.

        ...

        Needless to say, he's not my friend anymore. /True story.

        I don't generally flame, but what a sad little insular world you live in. I very much enjoy working and socializing with people with extremely diverse viewpoints. I learned long ago that if I always hang around people like me, I will never learn anything. As it turns out, I like l

        • Re:Pathetic (Score:5, Interesting)

          by no reason to be here (218628) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:54AM (#9561575) Homepage
          He's not my friend because he was "conservative" or liked fox news, but because he was so damn simple as to say something like fox isn't a news channel, so it doesn't matter that they are biased.He was someone (philosophy major) who should have known better. There was a lot more to it than just this one incident. He regularly showed himself to be a parrot towing the (Republican) party-line. Ultimately, though, it had far more to do with his callous and outright rude remarks to other people, irrespective of politics that got to me.

          Also, you really need to learn how to more properly judge a throw-away line that is intended as humor at the end of a post. I was being flippant. Or perhaps facetious. In any event, I thought it would be obvious that I was making a joke and would not really stop being friend's with someone over something like his political views.
  • by Mz6 (741941) * on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:06AM (#9560946) Journal
    Will somebody PLEASE think of the children?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:09AM (#9560984)
      I'm still waiting for someone to demonstrate actual harm to children from pornography.

      It's hard to ask a question like that as anything but an AC, because you end up being tarred with the NAMBLA brush. But that doesn't change the fact that the question needs to be asked before passing Constitution-endangering legislation to "save the children."

      Who, besides evangelical freakshows, can make a serious argument that kids are corrupted for life when they see naked boobies on the Intarweb?
      • Good book called "As Nature Made Him." Very, very different set of circumstances, but you do have to appreciate the manner in which this poor child's reality was totally twisted on so many levels.
      • by no reason to be here (218628) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:19AM (#9561122) Homepage
        Well, think about the unrealistic expectations that pr0n sets for sex in the real world. I have heard much anecdotal evidence about couples in their 20s where the woman has to basically act like pornstar in the bedroom in order to interest the guy at all because he's become so desensitized to sex by all the pr0n he's been seeing since he was 16.

        Now, imagine now how much worse it'll be for kids who are growing up on the Internet with a world of porn at their fingertips. I teach at a high school where all the kids are given laptops and wireless net connectivity, and I know that all of them, male and female alike, have gone to at least one pr0n site on purpose, not to mention all of the goatse's, lemonparty's, etc. that they are tricked into viewing by their maliscious friends.

        We're going to have an entire generation of kids who are completely jaded concerning sex while simultaneously haveing all kinds of complexes because their boobs, penis, butt, etc. is too small.
        • by RazzleFrog (537054) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:30AM (#9561266)
          God forbid that children get the idea that sex can be an enjoyable experience and that sex outside of the missionary position is acceptable. Porn saves many relationships because it gives couples new ideas. Not all porn is John Hugecock and Jane Boobjob having violent sex with a plunger up her ass. There is plenty of porn that is designed for couples.

          Either way, if a guy is treating his girlfriend like a porn star than perhaps he has other respect issues that need to be dealt with. While porn will not cause a man to be disrepectful it may make it worse.
          • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:10PM (#9561788)
            God forbid that children get the idea that sex can be an enjoyable experience and that sex outside of the missionary position is acceptable.

            Unfortunately, on the internet it's also pretty easy to get the idea that sex with animals and with "women" with male genitilia are commonplace. They're also likely to get the idea that only women that look like young teenage girls are really desirable and that they should have as many sexual partners as physically possible at one time.

            I'm actually glad this law will likely be struck down and I'm proud of the ACLU for playing the role they have, but parents really do need to be protecting their children from the internet's version of sex until they're at least old enough to tell the difference between the internet's fantasies and the reality of sex.

            TW
            • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:22PM (#9561917) Homepage Journal
              As a big ol' pervert and dirty mofo, I take offense to the idea that porn shouldn't involve animals and shemales. Neither one is my cup of tea but unless you're doing something nonconsensual (hard to prove in the case of the animals in some cases, I'll admit) who the hell is being hurt? Well, some of that stuff certainly looks like it hurts, but people do things that hurt for pleasure all the time, like running marathons for example.

              People tend to go through phases in terms of what they find attractive. When I was younger, I actually found women closer to my age now (and older) more attractive than I do today, and I find my eyes drawn to the young tenderonis more, probably an indication of the oncoming morbidity which occurs around thirty years of age as the reality of one's mortality becomes more apparent. I'm sure I'll swing back around the other way when I get tired of women that don't understand me, or something.

              There is a theory that [basically] states that when we are prosperous we go looking for women with athletic figures because they are capable of more sexual gymnastics, we are looking for a playmate. When we are in poverty we go looking for a woman capable of being a mother. Right now is a time of prosperity, in spite of the U.S. economy's "slump" we are still much better off than much of the world. Hence we in the US are looking at the hot lil' honeys when we watch porn. But, that's just one theory. Besides, not everyone likes the waifs-with-boob-jobs today.

        • by Denyer (717613) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:36AM (#9561330)
          much anecdotal evidence about couples in their 20s

          Yes, but these are blokes who treat Loaded as a bible, toot their car horns at billboards and generally are stuck in a mindset of artificial = sexy.

          The rest of us, who discovered porn in our teens (and quite a bit younger than 16) got bored with people faking it, and realised that good sex is about intimacy rather than image.

        • I find it very hard to believe that there are kids today who DON'T have all kinds of complexes about the size of their boobs/penis/etc. That's been an obsession since way before porn was easily accessable.

          As for being desensitized to sex, maybe it's just me, but even after quite a bit of web surfing, a simple sweater or low-cut top still makes me take notice.
        • Runnnnnnnn! (Score:5, Funny)

          by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:39AM (#9561367) Homepage
          not to mention all of the goatse's, lemonparty's, etc.

          If I had seen Goatse and Lemonparty as a teenager, I think I would have decided to be celibate.

      • by grungebox (578982) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:32AM (#9561285) Homepage
        I'll risk my karma and post as "grungebox." No AC for me!

        It's weird how we Americans hate porn so much more than violent media. I know when I was 5, my dad let me watch Die Hard on video since it was all violence and no sex. That seems inherently backwards when I reflect upon his thinking. I mean, violence is not a natural, productive extension of human behavior. Sex is. No, I'm not riding against GTA or something (especially since the package is clearly marked M for Mature), since escapist violence has its place as entertainment as well.

        Here are the popular arguments I hear (and the responses) against kids seeing porn:
        1) They'll become rapists
        Answer: Rape is widely viewed as being linked to violence rather than sexual gratification. It's a crime of power. Even if rape is linked to sexual needs, the personal threshold to commit such an atrocity is probably linked to either inherent psychological detriments or a desensitized state of being regarding violent acts, which probably has more to do with 9-year-olds playing GTA than 9-year-olds reading Playboy.
        2) Kids will become addicted to porn like drugs
        Answer: Stop watching Jerry Falwell. Porn has no chemical dependency, and if a child wishes to explore what they're born with, who is it harming? They're not going to go blind
        3) Date rapes are about getting some, not violence. Kids will feel a need for sex if they're exposed to porn, and they'll get it one way or another
        Answer: This relates to the answer to 1), but also has a separate argument. The contention that seeing porn -> needing sex is tenuous, and is hardly more persuasive than "not seeing porn -> curiousity/forbidden fruit -> needing sex". If you've never seen a person naked, the appeal is heightened in hormonally-charged situations such as dates. Frankly, the idea of something being banned for kids only makes them more interested. Ask George Bush Sr. and his oh-so-successful War on Drugs. 4) Children become densensitized to sex, making sex less enjoyable.
        Answer: Okay, that's a legitimate concern, and I'd be willing to agree. However, that hardly warrants the extremely unconstitutional methods proposed by current anti-porn legislation. Perhaps schools ought actively engage in sexual discourse, but that ain't happening in this lifetime.

        I'm sure there are some holes in the arguments. No pun intended.

        • Smoke = = Fire (Score:3, Insightful)

          It's weird how we Americans hate porn so much more than violent media.

          This one really confuses me. On the one hand, the United States is one of the most prudish societies on the planet (possibly only number 2 to various Muslim countries), yet for the most part, this is where the highest porn consumption is. It reminds me of all these city governments that want to ban titty bars by saying they attract sleaze from outside the area. Bullshit. The fact that there are so many titty bars and so much porn prove

      • by Hamster Lover (558288) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:40AM (#9561390) Journal
        What happens when children look at themselves naked? Is that damaging?

        I recall that I started having my first sexual urges around 13. My mom caught me reading a Playboy magazine and sent me to counselling. What a fucking waste of time. In the end, the psychiatrist explained to my mother it was normal for human beings to develop sexual urges starting in their early teens.

        I'd like to go on, but a fellow inmate needs to use this computer...
  • by Trigun (685027) <evil@NOSpAm.evilempire.ath.cx> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:07AM (#9560964)
    from my tired, cramped hands!
    • by Tackhead (54550)
      > You can take my porn... from my tired, cramped hands!

      Welcome to Slashdot, Justice Thomas! Good to have you here. Thanks for the tie-breaking fifth vote.

      Got any good pics of Anita Hill you wanna share with us? If not, it's all good, we understand. We'll settle for a .torrent for "Long Dong Silver" instead.

  • this law stinks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by machacker (772227) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:08AM (#9560975)
    the problem is that not only do non-porn sites get blocked, but porn sites get blocked. Pornography is also free speech. People don't seem to get that. Protecting children from porn (if you can even call it protecting) is soly the responsibility of the parents.
    • Re:this law stinks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cexshun (770970) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:12AM (#9561018) Homepage
      Although I agree with you, there are flaws in that statement. Selling/providing pornography to a minor is against the law.
      Yes, it's the parents job to keep their kids from smoking, but that doesn't mean it's ok for a tabacconist to sell the product to a minor. Same concept here.
      There has to be SOME measure of prevention to keep children from accessing pornography.
      • Re:this law stinks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LostCluster (625375) * on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:15AM (#9561054)
        The key is that when you give a child access to the Internet, you're the one giving them access to all bad things on the Internet too. The responsiblity starts and ends at the parents.
      • Re:this law stinks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by chris_mahan (256577) <chris.mahan@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:22AM (#9561157) Homepage
        >There has to be SOME measure of prevention to keep children from accessing pornography.

        No computer.

        If computer, no net connection.

        If computer and net connection, then computer is in parent's bedroom, locked.

        If computer and net connection and computer in living area, password-protected access.

        If computer and net connection and computer in living area and no password, check under the bed and look for the loaded pistol.

        If parents are stupid and/or ignorant, the children will suffer.

        If the parents don't care and want to expose their children to life's harsh reality, who the fuck does the state think it is to tell people how to raise their kids?

        Oh, I forgot, this is America, the Land That Traded Freedom For Safety.

        And the solution to that: Let's restrict free speech on the net. Maybe they won't notice that the books are being burnt too as they watch Survivor 69: the Island of Desire on their big screen TV.

        • by cexshun (770970) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:25AM (#9561195) Homepage
          Interesting because things got awfully hairy when helping my little cousin do research for his 3rd grade paper on the "North American Beaver". Even with me sitting next to her, it's hard to keep her from reading the interesting site descriptions given on google.
          • Re:this law stinks (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tanguyr (468371) <tanguyr+slashdot@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:33AM (#9561301) Homepage
            Interesting because things got awfully hairy when helping my little cousin do research for his 3rd grade paper on the "North American Beaver". Even with me sitting next to her, it's hard to keep her from reading the interesting site descriptions given on google.

            That's what Safe Search is for. Using that when googling for "North American Beaver" (w/ quotes) gives me 6 pages of links about Castor canadensis, a large, web-footed, semi aquatic rodent with brown fur and a wide, flat, dark tail. (then i stopped looking)

            A couple of facts:
            1) the people who put porn up on the net aren't trying to "trap" or "trick" anyone into looking at it. Why would they? It'll just cause problems for them in the long run, and their target audience is willing to make a minimum effort to get to them anyways.

            2) between search engine filters, parental controls on PCs and warning pages on adult oriented web sites, i really don't think we need to bring the government into the matter. Once they're there they won't leave.
        • Re:this law stinks (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bwalling (195998)
          I know this is mildy off topic, but I really want to hear a good explanation on this:

          I was at my local library the other day, and there was a guy in there browsing porn on one of the computers. Not in a back room, not hidden from view, out in the open, 15 feet from the children's section. So, I can't send my kids up to the local library unsupervised.

          I bring this up in response to the above post's message that this should be restricted by parents. I'm in support of that idea, in theory. I'd really lik
          • Re:this law stinks (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jkabbe (631234) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:09PM (#9561776)
            Next time try reporting him to the librarian. And if they won't do anything about it, walk up behind him and tell him you'll call the police if he doesn't stop immediately.

            I bring this up because I am sick of people expecting the government to pass laws to solve problems instead of taking a little initiative in solving the problem themselves.
  • Wha-?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by egg troll (515396) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:09AM (#9560981) Homepage Journal
    There's porn on the Internet? Does anyone else know about this?
  • Bi-Partisan bill (Score:5, Insightful)

    by El Pollo Loco (562236) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:11AM (#9561010)
    The high court divided 5-to-4 over a law passed in 1998, signed by then-President Clinton and now backed by the Bush administration.

    Just remember kids, it's BOTH democrats and republicans out to take away your rights. It's not a left vs. right struggle, it's a class struggle. Just as it's been throughout history.
  • .porn (Score:4, Interesting)

    by asl24 (750888) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:13AM (#9561034)
    Frankly, I don't understand why porn doesn't have it's own extension. That way people can block it out, or surf it to their heart's content. No harm, no foul.
    • Re:.porn (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IIH (33751) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:02PM (#9561674)
      Frankly, I don't understand why porn doesn't have it's own extension.

      That's because there is no widespread agreement of what defines "porn", what one person might regard as harmless fun, another might regard as porn.

      Also, in computer security, as it's common practice in input parsing to "accept good characters, reject everything else", instead of "reject known bad characters, accept everything else", would it not be more sensible to have a .kids domain instead?

  • by Geiger581 (471105) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:14AM (#9561041)
    Here. [akamaitech.net] It's a long read, but even in skimming you can get far more detail than any Fox or CNN report. In fact, find more detail than the government or media really wants you to know at: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/ [supremecourtus.gov]. The relevant link ('Recent Decisions') is near the top just above the pretty picture of the courthouse itself.
  • by MOMOCROME (207697) <momocrome@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:14AM (#9561049)
    The founding fathers of the United States clearly had such liberties in mind when they drafted and ratified our constitution. It's not that they felt pr0n and such to be good, they were simply responding to power's natural urge to despotically control the higher capacities of the citizenry. They were desperately concerned with providing an enduring institution that would constantly self-correct and adapt to new and exciting forms of...

    what was I talking about again? I got distracted with this here picture of a purty wommin.
  • Other Issues (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Admael (750119) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:15AM (#9561058)
    If I'm not mistaken, COPA also had an effect on other areas of web use. Porn is a big chunk of it (and, in all likelihood, the big reason it came about), but I thought it restricted registering for certain services (message boards, chat clients) for children under a certain age. And if I remember correctly, these restrictions were also pretty ridiculous. I'm all about keeping the children off porn sites, but I wish the article mentioned more about other implications of the legislation.
  • A relevant quote (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 14erCleaner (745600) <FourteenerCleaner@yahoo.com> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:16AM (#9561074) Homepage Journal
    "Monsieur l'abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write."

    -- Voltaire [wikipedia.org], 1770

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:16AM (#9561081)
    Teenage boys/men will always search high and low for porn and the web is loaded with it, be it sites, newsgroups, hell allow image download and half you email is porn. Its a supply and demand situation and there will always be a demand while males have testosterone and credit cards to pay for porn.
  • by Cpt_Kirks (37296) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:17AM (#9561090)
    Really, who goes out and *PAYS* for web pr0n? Jeebus, you can get tons off p2p and USENET. Tons.

    It's like drinking from a fire hose (pun intended). Even with a DVD burner I need another hard drive.

  • AOL (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WhatsAProGingrass (726851) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:17AM (#9561093) Homepage
    I thought that was what AOL was for. I thought they had restrictions on porn or any adult content. "Parental Settings" if I remember correctly.

    People need to stop blaming others.
  • Everyone nods their heads solomly when someone argues that children need to be protected from the dangers of the net at all costs. But should they?

    There is view that the net is predominatly a smut loving, pedophile and cracker infested den of iniquity. It isn't(for the most part anyway). That view is perpetuated by people who don't like the net and what it represents(i.e. change).

    Lets get some facts straight.

    1) Kids are not going to 'stumble' across pr0n. They are going to go out looking for it.
    2) The primary responsibility for children who browse the net, lies not with the government, or lawmakers, or ISPs, or pr0n websites, or even the owner of the computer. It lies with their parents.
    3) Pr0n is not the work of satan, despite what many(including 4 S.C. judges) believe. People need a more mature attidude towards sex.
    4) No matter WHAT gets put on the net and no matter WHAT the children see and do on it, we should NEVER sacrafice our liberties for the sake of piece of mind.

    The most shocking part of the entire article( apart from the fact that Fox reported on it :E) was that 4 of the justices thought that the Law, which really would have curtailed freedom of speech due to its obsurity(see this article [com.com]), was a good thing. Who the hell are these judges and how the hell did they ever get to where they are, let alone law degrees.

    Yet another case of society being threatened by people not thinking past their next meal. We need intravinous feeding now
  • Blackout (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ann Coulter (614889) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:33AM (#9561296) Journal
    I would like to see ISPs completely blocking out political regions from looking at material they provide access to. If ISPs are liable then they have a reason to block addresses that originate from a certain geographical region that have laws that make the ISP liable for material that the ISP gives access to. I would like to see Internet blackouts in these political regions so that they are denied from accessing large portions of the internet. This should send a clear message that laws will have far greater consequences than their stated aims. These laws are ridiculous just like blacking out a blackout from multiple ISPs. If push comes to shove, ISPs should block out these regions from accessing their networks not only to avoid liability but also to make a statement that the Internet is not a right.
    Of course, governments might force these ISPs to give access to their networks. If that happens, then ISPs loose both ways as they will be liable if they give access and they will be forced by the point of a gun to provide access to questionable material, and then become liable. If this happens, I hope that a vacuum forms in these oppressive countries, or whatever, where absolutely no ISP will dare to set up in them. The only way that governments can prevent that is to provide ISP services or use military force to force these ISPs to provide access.
    If the governments form ISPs themselves, then the blackout will become more fine grained as hosts will block out content themselves. This is the worst case scenario as I can't think of anything that can be done to hamper these laws against content and have an impact.
    So what should we do if government from ISPs as a result of all this? We must not allow content prohibition laws from existing.
  • by corby (56462) * on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:38AM (#9561345)
    For the first time in his professional career, Clarence Thomas votes against the Republican party line. Of course, it is to support access to porn.
  • Link To Decision (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:38AM (#9561352)
    Here's the actual decision in .pdf at the US Supreme Court. [akamaitech.net]
  • property rights (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dh003i (203189) <dh003i@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:39AM (#9561369) Homepage Journal
    The reason we have the problems we have is because the airwaves have been socialized. What should occur is that the State shouldn't be involved in leasing out the airwaves and regulating them. Rather, we should allow the airwaves to be homesteaded and privately owned. This solves the "pornography" problem quite easily. Someone who doesn't like porn doesn't have to allow it on the airwaves which constitute their property. See For a New Liberty: Personal Liberty. Murray N. Rothbard. Refer to the section Freedom of Radio and Television and Pornography. [mises.org]
  • Kids today... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NeoGeo64 (672698) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:40AM (#9561389)
    I remember back in the 80's, the only way you'd see beaver shots is if you knew someone who had a stash of Hustler or Playboy mags hidden somewhere. Things, including pornography, were much less accessible to children because they weren't readily available.

    The Internet changed all of that, and kids today use the Internet for just about anything, including breaking the law and viewing pornography. Isn't technology wonderful?

    Viruses have become the digital equivalent of gangs tagging their territory with graffiti, any software program is freely available over IRC or BitTorrent and... well, you get the idea.

    Honestly, it should not be up to the courts to decide what is appropriate to view online, that decision should be left up to the parents. But, of course, people today don't like to take responsibility for their actions and just go sue happy instead being real parents.

    Then again, censoring software can be easily disabled or bypassed (read: Knoppix) and kids will do whatever they want.

    Besides, the Internet ain't the only issue here, you should see what they say and do on TV now...
  • by CptKron (728451) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:40AM (#9561392) Homepage
    Way back when, Mail.com required me to check a box indicating that I had "parental consent" to sign up for my new account. I was 12, so by law it was indecent for me to have a cool @madscientist.com address. Oh well, I got around that one. And I remember it being VERY hard to push my year of birth back a bit so I would hit that 13 year threshold and be able to use the forum/chat service/whatever... just hit "back" and try again.

    One time, by I believe Yahoo!, I was asked for a credit card number to make sure my parents were okay with me signing up for their service. That really was tough. I don't think I got around that.

    But now all I'm faced with is the "IF YOU'RE NOT 18 PLEASE CLICK HERE" type of protection. That's the worst. I've found "ignoring the link", "clicking the 'I'm 18' button" and "looking at the pretty pictures on the same page" as methods of circumventing this protection.

    Now, what's wrong with this picture? Me, for lying about my age? The websites, for allowing me to get around their "protection"? Or this law for attempting to block "harmful" things that pose no threat to my development as a person whatsoever? I vote #3.
  • by NeoGeo64 (672698) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:43AM (#9561424)
    US law will never change the Internet. Porn sites that are domestic will simply move to overseas hosts that are located in countries with lax laws.
  • Kids these days. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Malicious (567158) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:47AM (#9561478)
    I remember back in the day when I had to pay my older cousins to go get me a dirty magazine, or steal it from my parents closet. Then the hard part was keeping it where it wouldn't be found.
    Boys WILL get their hands on porn. It's GOING to happen. Make the kid paranoid that he's going to be walked in on every few minutes, and it will opening that site the same as trying to sneak a dirty magazine in the house.
    Porn in moderation isn't bad. It's immersion that is going to cause children problems.
  • by razmaspaz (568034) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:48AM (#9561487)
    Between this and yesterday's ruling on detainees during "war time" I have to give a big shout out to the supreme court. I am glad to see that they are protecting our freedoms as they are supposed to. Not that I think so much that terrorists should be treated fairly or that kids shouldn't be protected from porn. Just that laws that limit these things can easily be abused and I'm happy to see that the supreme court is taking a stand. Since our Executive branch is so set on stealing our freedoms.
  • by xutopia (469129) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @11:59AM (#9561634) Homepage
    makes it hard to write laws that protect children. Americans need an amendment.
  • by TexVex (669445) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:01PM (#9561662)
    From the article (emphasis mine):
    Tuesday's pornography ruling is more nuanced, but still a blow to the government.
    Ok, let me explain some fifth grade Social Studies. This shit should be obvious to grade-schoolers. This ruling is an effect of our government regulating itself according to the rules set forth in the Constitution. This is not a "blow" to the government. It is a blow to the court case of a particularly overreaching couple branches of our government, but don't even start to think that somehow the Supreme Court is not part of the government and therefore capable of delivering a blow to the government.
  • Pornographic _ads_ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Erwos (553607) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:06PM (#9561729)
    While "real porn sites" generally involve hunting them down, pornographic ads (and I'm talking about rather explicit stuff, too) are far easier to come across by accident. I think the _ads_ are the thing that the government needs to concentrate on if they're going to regulate internet porn.

    -Erwos
  • by linuxhansl (764171) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:15PM (#9561832)
    Here's the part of the act that defines "harmful to minors"

    (6) Material that is harmful to minors.--The term `material that is harmful to minors' means any communication, picture, image, graphic image file, article, recording, writing, or other matter of any kind that is obscene or that--

    (A) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, taking the material as a whole and with respect to minors, is designed to appeal to, or is designed to pander to, the prurient interest;

    (B) depicts, describes, or represents, in a manner patently offensive with respect to minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, an actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual act, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals or post-pubescent female breast; and

    (C) taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

    Notice that the only specific topic defined is sexual content. The rest can almost be applied to anything.
    Where does our obsession with Sex come from? Is it better to present children with violence, death and war?

    It's funny that a movie where you can see a Nipple is automatically Rated-R, whereas other movies where 100s of people are killed maybe be rated PG-13 (or whatever). Violence is ok, Sex evil? Please.
    Now we're trying to do the same with the internet. No, thank you very much.

  • by MrLint (519792) on Tuesday June 29, 2004 @12:51PM (#9562301) Journal
    A friend passed along a url [thisistrue.com] to me the other day about the ACLU. I strongly suggest people read it, not only to perhaps dispel a few preconceived notions, but to read the replies the author got and reflect.

    There seems to be a portion of the citizenry that cannot seem to abstract their own beliefs (and belief systems) from reality. There also appears to be a distinct willful decision not comprehend separation of church and state. Individuals have the choice to restrict (or not) themselves, government does not have the choice to restrict or advocate. Why do I bring this point up? many of the "please think of the children" are running on their own religious views about sex, and sexual content, and are pushing their agenda unto to the government, pushing the govt into a role is it not only ill suited for, but has no place in. Let us examine a hypothetical, if used in a similar manner, laws could be passed to shut down any non-kosher restaurants and stores. Clearly no one pushes this because the govt has no role enforcing a set of religious beliefs or edicts, regardless the rhetoric they are couched in.

    This of course puts the onus on the parents to handle the situation, and that is where the responsibility lies.

"It's when they say 2 + 2 = 5 that I begin to argue." -- Eric Pepke

Working...