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Challenging the Child Online Protection Act 213

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 TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @04:05PM (#16551904) Journal
    Comment 1: Think of the children
    Comment 2: It's the parents job to police their kids
    Comment 3: Parents can't police all the time

    Just call this a meta-post so that we can get the generic comments out of the way.
  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Monday October 23, 2006 @04:14PM (#16552038) Journal
    Comeon, do tell. Are you serious or was this just a troll. Hell the current "conservative" judges in the Supreme Court also had some problems with this. Not enough to knock it out completly, but they are being careful, knowing its not quite right.
  • COPA is pointless (Score:5, Interesting)

    by springbox ( 853816 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @04:17PM (#16552090)
    I can see that there were some "good intentions" to protect children or whatever the case might have been, but if you've seen most web sites with a COPA agreement (phpBB in particular), as a registering user, you have two choices:

    "I am under 13"
    "I am 13 or older."

    Ok great! Now only the honest kids will be prevented from signing up to most forums. It's about as ridiculous as the "YES, I'm 18 or older" on adult pr0n sites.

    It would seem as if COPA is only protecting the site operators in the event that something bad DOES happen to young childern. These kids can still get themselves into trouble if they want. I guess some people think that the fancy agreement is somehow significant (as seen in EULAs.)

  • Re:Copa is idiotic. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23, 2006 @04:30PM (#16552278)
    needing a CC hasn't stopped children. I work for an online transaction company and I have had customers call in about transactions. I look up the transaction, it's for a WOW godly armor of knowledge. Customer doesn't know what that is. I ask about kids in the house playing said game. Que child's name being called and a nice "thank you."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 23, 2006 @04:38PM (#16552386)
    I want to know what is being done to protect adults FROM children. False allegations, false accusations, baiting, online deception, vandalism, slander, and the like.

    I spent two years in prison for some bullshit some kid said on me, and I had to not only prove it was impossible, but had to hire a lawyer to find a technicality in the trial to say the trial was bogus. Otherwise, without having a family on the outside with a little bit of money, I would be rotting in prison today. Go ahead, tell me children don't lie about being molested. Go ahead, tell me children don't lie. Go ahead, tell me! I will look you dead in the eye and tell you how full of **** you are.

    I bristle with anger whenever anybody does anything in the name of "protecting the children". These laws are being used to go on the equivalent of modern day witch hunts. Don't believe it? Wait until they come after you, and you're in front of a jury stating as plainly as possible, how what they are saying makes absolutely no sane common sense. It doesn't matter. The jury has been cherry picked jury of neo-conservative republicans. You'd get a much fairer jury if you stood outside Walmart and grabbed the first 13 people that walked in or out the door. When has any defendant ever had any say so or oversite in the picking of a jury? Answer: NEVER. Think about that. That's why America is so corrupt, its why everyone pleads out, its why you have the right to a jury trial in name only.

    I think any person who wants to protect children, needs to start by granting children more basic human rights. For one thing, to be considered as citizens of the country, and not property of their parents. To be given a say so in the development and passing of the laws under which they have to live under. To have the voluntary right to opt out of schools, which have become indoctrination camps to teach people to jump when they are told.

    There is no freedom in this country. You have freedom of mobility, and that's about it (and you have that anywhere). How many of the hundreds of thousands of laws on the books have you ever had any chance to vote on, ever been asked to vote on. How many of these bogus laws ever come up from review? Never. That's why there are ludicrous laws still on the book about not spitting from your donkey on the sidewalk in front of a lady during daylight hours.

    These laws are passed in some place far away in a room by a select group of people and then applied nationwide to the majority, who are too busy with their own lives struggling to make ends meet to travel to find these backrooms and stand up (even though they wouldn't be let in the door).

  • by JoshJ ( 1009085 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @06:12PM (#16553520) Journal
    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.
  • I am a parent... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:16PM (#16554672) Journal
    I was recently sholder-surfing, behind my 12 year old son looking for info on some shoot-em-up game or other.

    He clicked on a "sketchy" site that purported to have "hints and secrets".

    A nice looking bare-chested woman popped up.

    There was a couple second pause... then he nonchalantly clicked the "X".

    Ok, so I am not sure what he would have done had I not been looking over his shoulder, but what more could you ask for?

    As long as unexplained charges don't show up on my credit card, that is what you should expect your child to do while web surfing and "inappropriate" material appears.

  • by ben there... ( 946946 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:41PM (#16554890) Journal
    But that's exactly it. With the internet they are choosing to buy the Super Premium Deluxe Cable package, with all the porn channels. And then the parents expect the channels to disappear that they don't want their kids to watch, rather than using the filtering on the client side that is available to them.

    If parents want the equivalent of cable for their kids, they should get AOL and block the normal internet. Or buy a whitelist package that is voluntarily supported by certain websites. Everything else is blocked. They get the equivalent diversity of cable channels. That's what they want, right? Anything that is remotely threatening to their little world to disappear? They can have that, quite easily. But instead they want it both ways: the full diversity of the internet combined with the lack of active parenting that the very limited diversity of cable requires.
  • Re:Obligatory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nephilium ( 684559 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @08:42PM (#16554906) Homepage

    One of my favorite "Think of the children" quotes...

    Rule 1: When someone talks about 'the children' watch out for your wallet.
    Rule 2: When someone talks about 'the children' watch out for your freedoms.
    And now, it seems:
    Rule 3: When someone talks about 'the children' watch out for your democracy.

    - Andrew Stuttaford


    What good is the race of man? Monkeys, he thought, monkeys with a spot of poetry in them, cluttering and wasting a second-string planet near a third-string star. But sometimes they finish in style. -- Potiphar (Potty) Breen in The Year of the Jackpot

  • BIG nit: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday October 23, 2006 @10:51PM (#16555684) Journal
    The courts only decide whether or not something's constitutional. Until they do so, it is constitutional.

    Sorry, no cigar.

    IF the court declares something unconstitutional, it was ALWAYS unconstitutional. It "didn't exist". Get out of jail free, etc.

    Not that it matters a whole lot. The problem is fourfold:

      1) Until the court throws the law out, you have no idea whether it will.

      2) Neither does the rest of the legal system. So it still goes after you. "Get out of jail free." doesn't refund your bondsman's fee, your lawyer's fee, replace your lost chunk of lifetime, reassemble the broken family, get you your job back - with back pay, replace your repossessed house and car, restore your credit rating, replace the expensive collectable guns you had to dispose of, fill in the hole in your resume, etc. It does purge the criminal record - which doesn't help you if the info is already out in hundreds of non-court databases. And even if they knew damned well this one would get thrown out you have no way to sue them. "I vas Chust Dooink my Chob!"

      3) The courts normally don't even take up the issue until somebody gets convicted of violating the law in question AND there's NO other way to dispose of the case without addressing the issue. Even then it takes the Supreme Court to definitively strike a new law, and they can arbitrarily refuse to even hear it - which they usually will do unless two appellate courts disagree, and sometimes even then.


    When the courts strike down COPA, it will be replaced by something even worse.

    4) It takes a LOT of time and work to strike a law. It takes the legislators and chief exec very little time and work to pass another like it, with slight tweaks.

    And another. And another. And another dozen. And another thousand. And put riders on every "must-pass" bill, like the budget, or a use-of-force authorization, or ...
  • by e40 ( 448424 ) on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @01:04AM (#16556304) Journal
    I gotta stand up for young children here. They don't "lie" (in the majority of cases). They are manipulated into by adults, who definitely have an agenda. Try this on a 5 year old: ask them a question. Keep asking the question until they change the answer. It will happen, and it doesn't take too long. There was a very famous case, the McMartin preschool Trial [], where this was known to happen. I quote:
    Critics have alleged that the questioners asked the children leading questions, repetitively, which, it is said, always yields positive responses from young children, making it impossible to know what the child actually experienced. Some claim the questioning alone may have led to false-memory syndrome among the children who were questioned.
    Frontline did a series of documentaries on this case, spanning a few years. Very interesting. Check it [] out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 24, 2006 @11:10AM (#16561386)
    Wrong, son. Children lie. With impunity.

    My oldest boy (6) went to school one day with a playground bruise, and mad at his mother. When asked about the bruise, he told the school counsellor his mother hit him. That evening I came home to find my wife in jail and all my children confiscated - taken from their classrooms - by DFS and the city police. No one called me to let me know - not the police, not the schools, not DFS. The next day I had to endure all manner of indignities, a nasty police interview, being lumped in with pedophiles and slavers by DFS, a psychological evaluation, and social workers in my house, just to get my children returned to me. And no one ever accused me of anything!

    So months later I'm on my own with three school-age kids. My wife is still not allowed in the house. I have lawyer bills and social workers (for which I'm priviledged to pay) out the ass, and I'm looking at the ruin of mine and my wife's careers. The police will not leave us alone. I've been able to document without a shadow of a doubt that my wife did not strike my son, but it makes no difference. We're in the system now, and the people who run it are quite hysterical and beyond reason.

    And we haven't even gotten to the criminal part yet - the charges the prosecutor keeps threatining to file against my wife. She's not a US citizen. If the state charges her with a felony, she'll be deported. We're told by our lawyers we must avoid a trial at all costs because *we can't win*. The system is rigged in favor of the children, and the prosecutor is just waiting to put my children (ages 4,5,6) on the stand and force them to testify against my wife - leading questions and all. Its insane. And all over a bowl of ice cream.

Not only is UNIX dead, it's starting to smell really bad. -- Rob Pike