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Challenging the Child Online Protection Act 213

Posted by kdawson
from the think-of-the-children dept.
narramissic writes, "Today in Philadelphia a federal trial got underway that will decide whether COPA is constitutional. The outcome will determine whether operators of Web sites can be held accountable for failing to block children's access to inappropriate materials. An article on ITworld outlines the arguments of the foes in the battle: the DOJ and the ACLU. If I were a betting woman, I'd put my money on the ACLU. Parents, schools, etc. have to take responsibility for the internet usage of children in their charge." Two courts have found COPA unconstitutional and the Supreme Court has upheld the ban on its enforcement, while asking a lower court to examine whether technological measures such as filtering could be as effective as the law in shielding children; thus this trial. The article does not mention that it was the DOJ's preparation for the trial that was behind its earlier request that search companies turn over their records — a request that only Google refused.
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Challenging the Child Online Protection Act

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  • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:06PM (#16551916) Journal
    This, even if enforced, will not protect children from themselves, or the unscrupulous... it will, however, give polititians someone to roast on an open fire to make them look good in election years.... This should be the VFMA (vote for me act) as that is how it will be used, like many other bad laws in the US
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:07PM (#16551942)
    Comment 1: Think of the children

    Isn't thinking about children a little too much what is causing all the trouble here?

  • Copa is idiotic. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by NewsSurfer (1000129) * on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:09PM (#16551978)
    Any child who wants to get around these screenings can, unless a credit card is required, and some kids have cards anyway, or use their parents. This law just makes a headache for programmers and people who have to prove their innocence to not being a child.
  • by Maclir (33773) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:14PM (#16552034) Journal
    I don't see any reference to that distinction in the Constitution.....
  • by Blackknight (25168) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:14PM (#16552054) Homepage
    This law sounds incredibly vague. What is inappropriate? If I have a few cuss words on my home page does that mean I have to block everybody? What about bikini pics? How about articles that some people think are inappropriate because of their religious beliefs?

    How does this affect web hosting companies? We host thousands of domains and I'm sure some of them could be considered inappropriate for kids.

    It's not a site owner's job to filter out people that might be offended by the content, if you don't like a site don't go there.
  • Obligatory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpu_fusion (705735) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:14PM (#16552060)
    Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children given access to the Internet by their parents?
  • nanny state (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:15PM (#16552072) Homepage
    Parents, schools, etc. have to take responsibility for the internet usage of children in their charge.

    Why is it that the ACLU has to fight in court to get people to understand something that should be painfully obvious? Man up people, the government is not your mommy.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:23PM (#16552188)
    What about string bikini pics.

    What about bikini pics that you can make out anatomy through (oh wait, JC Penneys add three months ago had that and it ran in the newspaper too).

    What about a lady in a full corset & stockings (that cover more than the bikini). ...holding a banana ...holding a zuchinni ...holding a vibrator ...holding a realistic dildo ...holding a real guy. ...with just a hint of her aereola showing. ...with the top half showing. ...with nipples. ...oh wait, it's really a male transexual (male nipples being legal) ...but he's in a corset. ...but that was fine for Tim Curry

    Someone else said it best here in the past.

    PLEASE post a web page with a continuam of pictures from fully appropriate to fully inappropriate with each one flagged as to how appropriate or inappropriate it is. That way we can all go to it and see what is an is not appropriate to have on the web.

  • Re:COPA is idiotic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tinkerghost (944862) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:24PM (#16552208) Homepage
    I recommend a fast google search on variations of "credit card generator".

    It would take someone about 15 minutes tops to generate a CC# to use on one of these sites. Unless they are going to require every adult related sited to take credit cards, they are only going to hit the CC validation routines, not test if they are valid accounts. Oh, and is the US government going to give out a free credit card with every bankruptcy now also?

    By the way, if I'm a US citizen, running a company based in Switzerland, hosting a site through a UK company, with servers based in Canada - does this law apply? How about if the domain is registered through a US company, but me, the company, the host, and the servers are all based outside the US?

  • Re:COPA is idiotic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DittoBox (978894) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:25PM (#16552212) Homepage
    Exactly. COPA is stupid because politicians don't understand technology, or don't care to understand. The entire COPA thing was a ploy by politicians to claim they had done something "for the children." It's a classic attempt by politicians to, A) Spread FUD to the ignorant, B) Propose fake solution that in some cases gets them elected (gains power) or helps their CEO buddies (Profit!!!). Politicians survive by fabricating problems or by making existing problems seem worse. It's their bread and butter.
  • Comment 4: (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phantom of the Opera (1867) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:26PM (#16552224) Homepage
    If parents raise their children in a halfway decent manner, having them exposed to some awful sites will cause revulsion but not harm.

    Gah, kids don't spontaneously explode if they don't wear a helmet while tricycling.
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:27PM (#16552240)
    > From a purely technical standpoint, these 'children protection' things are total bullshit. I remember faking my age all the time before I was 13 to get around those acts.

    DOS: No serial number required.
    95/98/SE: To cut down on casual piracy, enter this serial number.
    Win2K: Since that didn't work, it might phone home unless you ask nicely that it not phone home.
    XP: Since that didn't work, it won't activate until you let it phone home. Don't worry, we won't nuke existing installations.
    Vista: Since that didn't work, we'll nuke any box that stops phoning.

    Or if we're talking copyright - witness the evolution of the NET Act ("It's a crime if you sell it"), the DMCA ("It's a crime if you crack DRM"), and the attempt to pass something harsher (SSSCA/CBDTPA) a few years later. (Look for another attempt after the elections, and/or something to mandate DRM into the hardware specifications, as Vista takes hold in the marketplace and is once again cracked...)

    COPA was designed to ensure that under-12 kids could get Myspace pages, that under-18 kids can click "I'm over 18" to see b00bies, and that (not legally required, but I've seen it on many brewery/winery/distillery pages) under-21 people can click "I'm over 21" to read about booze.

    After a few years, and after enough "horror stories" have appeared in the press about how 11-year-olds are being victimized on Myspace, 15-year-olds are seeing teh b00bies, and underage drinkers are able to read about beer, legislators will have a wide selection ready-made excuses to come up with some sort of "Real ID" or single-signon system for the Intertubes.

    The courts only decide whether or not something's constitutional. Until they do so, it is constitutional. When the courts strike down COPA, it will be replaced by something even worse.

  • by nEJC76 (904161) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:31PM (#16552292) Homepage
    I've been wondering, why don't the adult web-masters voluntarily put something like
    <META NAME="might_be_inaporopriate" CONTENT="true">

    Let the net-nanny type apps handle it, and be done with it...
    Its lot less painfull than moving to .xxx domains and the parents not using filtering software have only self to blame.

    I know l33t kids could get around it, but it's an offer of hand.
  • by buddyglass (925859) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:46PM (#16552508)
    Does the federal govt. currently hold pornographic video distributors accountable for limiting the sale (or rental) of their product to minors? If so, and if that restriction is considered to be constitutional, then I'm not sure how one can argue that COPA is not also constitutional. It just applies the same principle to businesses that distribute their product over the net instead of through a brick and mortar (or mail order) system.
  • by queenb**ch (446380) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:46PM (#16552512) Homepage Journal
    With Cable TV, you have the ability to set your television set to block specific channels - thinks like Skinamax, Spice, etc. These channels aren't automatically blocked. The parent has to sit down with the remote control and program it. I don't see why the internet should be filtered for the rest of us, because parents are too lazy to look over Little Johnny's shoulder and tell him to say off the warez site with the nasty ads.

    If you want the internet filtered for your kid, install and manage your own filtering software. It's the parent's responsibility to take charge of what their children are doing, viewing, etc. It's not the content provider's problem at all, particular on a medium like the internet where you have no face to face interaction (e.g. checking ID). Frankly, if you require a valid credit card, I think you'd solve the whole issue.

    My objection lies with of some of the banner ads and emails, which can be really atrocious. From time to time, I get things in my Inbox that make me cringe and wish I would remove them from my brain. "Barnyard" and "hot lovin'" should NEVER appear in the same sentence. I can only imagine something like that coming to a small child....

    2 cents,

    QueenB
  • Re:COPA is idiotic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by needacoolnickname (716083) on Monday October 23, 2006 @05:49PM (#16552552)
    By the way, if I'm a US citizen, running a company based in Switzerland, hosting a site through a UK company, with servers based in Canada - does this law apply? How about if the domain is registered through a US company, but me, the company, the host, and the servers are all based outside the US?


    I think you just don't want to pay the taxman.
  • Re:nanny state (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23, 2006 @06:07PM (#16552826)
    I also don't want my kids buying alcohol, cigarettes or porn. I cannot be there with them every time they are in a store. I rely on the law to prevent the clerk from selling them these things.

    If you can't trust your kid to obey the simple rules, by what right do you allow them to travel unescorted in public? You can and must be there every time your kid is unescorted by an adult; until such time as that child is old enough to be responsible for their own behaviour.

    It's no one else's job to enforce your personal little taboos. Maybe you think women need to have their heads covered with scarves, and that your children shouldn't have to see women with their heads bared. Maybe you don't think they should hear anything aside from your religious beliefs. Maybe you want to indoctrinate them in any one of a thousand different ways.

    Tough. Other people have rights, too. It's called free speech. If you don't want your young kids in a porn store, keep an eye on them until they're old enough to decide if they want to go in on their own. Once they're an adult, they get the right to make their own decisions. Until then, *you* have to take responsibility for their decisions.
  • by shmlco (594907) on Monday October 23, 2006 @06:11PM (#16552872) Homepage
    "I can only imagine something like that coming to a small child...."

    Half would say "ewwww" and half would start laughing, then they'd all turn on the TV or go out and play. Kids are not as fragile as we make them out to be, and most are terribly uninterested in all of that icky adult stuff.

    Or to quote, "Stop. They're KISSING again. Go on to the fire swamp, that sounded good..."
  • by ResidntGeek (772730) on Monday October 23, 2006 @06:13PM (#16552896) Journal
    The "think of the children" post would be sarcastic. "Think of the children" on slashdot is ALWAYS sarcastic. The next time you see "think of the children", think "sarcasm", OK?
  • by ben there... (946946) on Monday October 23, 2006 @06:35PM (#16553168) Journal
    Good point. I was about to make the same comparison when I found your post.

    If a parent purchases all of the naughty cable channels, then their kids have access to those as well. The cable company does nothing to prevent those kids from seeing those channels. If the parents want to prevent their kids from watching that, they use the filtering built into the client, the TV.

    The same goes for the internet. The parent purchases access to the whole internet. The ISP does nothing to prevent kids from seeing naughty sites. If the parents want to prevent their kids from visiting those sites, they use the filtering software available for the client, the computer.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23, 2006 @06:53PM (#16553358)
    He is right tough, children molestation accusations are false more often than not, but they still ruin the life of the accused beyond recovery, parents should be accountable for the damage that the lies of their children cause.
  • Bullshit! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:21PM (#16553620)
    I don't like the effect religion or disney cartoons have on young minds. I think the world would be a better place without religion and its hateful influence. I suspect a fair portion of sicko porn is a direct symptom of religious teachings. Those who believe images of human reproduction or nudity to be "filth" should be sectioned for the good of mankind.

    Despite my beliefs, I'm not going around telling others how to raise their kids. It's none of my business. If parents and guardians fail to take responsibility for children in their care, that's none of my business either. If parents are not capable of supervising their children, the kids should probably be put in state care.

    If I'm expected to take responsibilty for others kids then the first thing that needs censoring is religion. All of it. Let us rid ourselves of this poison!

  • by nebaz (453974) on Monday October 23, 2006 @07:34PM (#16553780)
    Not that I disagree with you, but on Cable TV, the number of channels you have to block will be minor, compared to the millions of inappropriate sites on the web. It is infeasible to have a black list for each of these sites. I'm not sure how well automated filtering software works at all, so I don't know that that would help.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:55PM (#16554548) Homepage
    . You can purchase cable packages that don't have porn. You can even choose not to buy cable at all, and just watch broadcast. You can be pretty sure that there's nothing objectionaly on broadcast channels while your kids are awake. You can order all the channels, and then tell it to block everything above a certain rating. I'm pretty sure there are mandatory ratings on everything now. However, there's no way to just purchase access to the "good" part of the internet. The best you can do is get some filtering software that uses whitelists/blacklists to say which sites you can go to. Whitelists suck because, the list is too big, and keeping it up to date is impossible. Blacklists suck for the same reason. So, I guess the answer is, either don't get the internet, sit there with your child while they are using the internet, or give them an extremely small list of sites they can visit via a whitelist.
  • by westlake (615356) on Monday October 23, 2006 @09:32PM (#16554842)
    Just because you dislike porn doesn't mean you can tell other people whether or not they should be allowed to watch it. That's what freedom's about. You know, that thing America's founded upon but the government keeps trying to quash? Yeah, that.

    Freedom is about many things.

    Including the freedom of a community to take collective action against conduct it regards as profoundly anti-social.

    Freedom of Speech in American constitutional law is rooted in a shared democratic faith in unconstrained political debate.

    It is not and never has been an license to make of every public forum a distribution center for pornography. It is not and never has been a license to draw children into the production of pornography or into the market for pornography,

  • by v1 (525388) on Monday October 23, 2006 @10:43PM (#16555296) Homepage Journal
    People nowadays seem to believe that the whole world must protect them (and their children it would seem) from everything... from the criminals, from the person next door, from everything bad in the whole world.

    I am so tired of hearing how the world failed to protect some idiot from their own stupidity or how the world failed to be the good partent to your child that you for some mysterious reason could not, and now somehow it's all our fault and you are totally innocent and victimized. There's an article here at least every 10 days with another sickening example of this retarded behavior.

    Makes me sick. People, grow up!
  • Big deal, man. A trial by jury means that twelve people will decide your fate -- twelve people who were too stupid to get out of jury duty. That pretty much neutralizes a lot of faith I have in the justice system. For the record I am studying to be a criminal defense attorney, and I'm still saying this. Fact is that especially in situations involving children, the average yob is going to go into near-hysterics. Most of the world is not composed of rational, level-headed people.

    You're talking about a country where a huge percentage of the population still thinks the world is 6000 years old. These are your peers, as in "jury of your peers". The OP has a point -- justice in the American system has the illusion of fairness, but it is really quite silly.

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