What We Really Need Is DOPA–The DOJ Online Protection Act
The Department of Justice has failed a third time to resuscitate the Child Online Protection Act, or COPA, a federal law designed to protect children from the vast reams of smut upon which it believes the Internet to be built. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals struck the law down again today, ruling that it would criminalize a category of speech that, while inappropriate for minors and the DOJ, is constitutionally protected for adults.
Apparently, COPA is not just an unsettling attempt of the few to define the values of the many, but an unconstitutional one as well.
“It is apparent that COPA, like the Communications Decency Act before it, ‘effectively suppresses a large amount of speech that adults have a constitutional right to receive and to address to one another,’ Reno, 521 U.S. at 874, 117 S.Ct. at 2346, and thus is overbroad,” the court wrote. “For this reason, COPA violates the First Amendment. These burdens would chill protected speech.”
That would seem to be the consensus. After all, this isn’t the first time this 1998 law has been ruled unconstitutional. Sadly, the DOJ is unconvinced. “We are disappointed that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Congressional statute designed to protect our children from exposure to sexually explicit material on the internet,” a DOJ representative said in a statement, indicating that it will likely appeal the decision.
Fourth time’s a charm, I guess.