TEXT OF CHILD ONLINE PROTECTION ACT (COPA) OF 1998
Click here to reach an HTML-browsable form of the COPA text from EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center)
(11/19/98) http://www.epic.org/free_speech/censorship/copa.html
This is the text of the actual Act, which is now under federal preliminary injunction. The EPIC site also contains the House of Representatives study which "justified" the Act.


 
               TITLE XIV--CHILD ONLINE PROTECTION
 
     SEC. 1401. SHORT TITLE.
 
       This title may be cited as the ``Child Online Protection
     Act''.
 
     SEC. 1402. CONGRESSIONAL FINDINGS.
 
       The Congress finds that--
 
       (1) while custody, care, and nurture of the child resides
     first with the parent, the widespread availability of the
     Internet presents opportunities for minors to access
     materials through the World Wide Web in a manner that can
     frustrate parental supervision or control;
 
       (2) the protection of the physical and psychological well-
     being of minors by shielding them from materials that are
     harmful to them is a compelling governmental interest;
 
       (3) to date, while the industry has developed innovative
     ways to help parents and educators restrict material that is
     harmful to minors through parental control protections and
     self-regulation, such efforts have not provided a national
     solution to the problem of minors accessing harmful material
     on the World Wide Web;
 
       (4) a prohibition on the distribution of material harmful
     to minors, combined with legitimate defenses, is currently
     the most effective and least restrictive means by which to
     satisfy the compelling government interest; and
 
       (5) notwithstanding the existence of protections that limit
     the distribution over the World Wide Web of material that is
     harmful to minors, parents, educators, and industry must
     continue efforts to find ways to protect children from being
     exposed to harmful material found on the Internet.
 
     SEC. 1403. REQUIREMENT TO RESTRICT ACCESS BY MINORS TO
                   MATERIALS COMMERCIALLY DISTRIBUTED BY MEANS OF
                   THE WORLD WIDE WEB THAT ARE HARMFUL TO MINORS.
 
       Part I of title II of the Communications Act of 1934 (47
     U.S.C. 201 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the
     following new section:
 
     ``SEC. 231. RESTRICTION OF ACCESS BY MINORS TO MATERIALS
                   COMMERCIALLY DISTRIBUTED BY MEANS OF WORLD WIDE
                   WEB THAT ARE HARMFUL TO MINORS.
 
       ``(a) Requirement To Restrict Access.--
 
       ``(1) Prohibited conduct.--Whoever knowingly and with
     knowledge of the character of the material, in interstate or
     foreign commerce by means of the World Wide Web, makes any
     communication for commercial purposes that is available to
     any minor and that includes any material that is harmful to
     minors shall be fined not more than $50,000, imprisoned not
     more than 6 months, or both.
 
       ``(2) Intentional violations.--In addition to the penalties
     under paragraph (1), whoever intentionally violates such
     paragraph shall be subject to a fine of not more than $50,000
     for each violation. For purposes of this paragraph, each day
     of violation shall constitute a separate violation.
 
       ``(3) Civil penalty.--In addition to the penalties under
     paragraphs (1) and (2), whoever violates paragraph (1) shall
     be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $50,000 for
     each violation. For purposes of this paragraph, each day of
     violation shall constitute a separate violation.
 
       ``(b) Inapplicability of Carriers and Other Service
     Providers.--For purposes of subsection (a), a person shall
     not be considered to make any communication for commercial
     purposes to the extent that such person is--
 
       ``(1) a telecommunications carrier engaged in the provision
     of a telecommunications service;
 
       ``(2) a person engaged in the business of providing an
     Internet access service;
 
       ``(3) a person engaged in the business of providing an
     Internet information location tool; or
 
       ``(4) similarly engaged in the transmission, storage,
     retrieval, hosting, formatting, or translation (or any
     combination thereof) of a communication made by another
     person, without selection or alteration of the content of the
     communication, except that such person's deletion of a
     particular communication or material made by another person
     in a manner consistent with subsection (c) or section 230
     shall not constitute such selection or alteration of the
     content of the communication.
 
       ``(c) Affirmative Defense.--
 
       ``(1) Defense.--It is an affirmative defense to prosecution
     under this section that the defendant, in good faith, has
     restricted access by minors to material that is harmful to
     minors--
 
       ``(A) by requiring use of a credit card, debit account,
     adult access code, or adult personal identification number;
 
       ``(B) by accepting a digital certificate that verifies age;
     or
       ``(C) by any other reasonable measures that are feasible
     under available technology.
 
       ``(2) Protection for use of defenses.--No cause of action
     may be brought in any court or administrative agency against
     any person on account of any activity that is not in
     violation of any law punishable by criminal or civil penalty,
     and that the person has taken in good faith to implement a
     defense authorized under this subsection or otherwise to
     restrict or prevent the transmission of, or access to, a
     communication specified in this section.
 
       ``(d) Privacy Protection Requirements.--
 
       ``(1) Disclosure of information limited.--A person making a
     communication described in subsection (a)--
 
       ``(A) shall not disclose any information collected for the
     purposes of restricting access to such communications to
     individuals 17 years of age or older without the prior
     written or electronic consent of--
 
       ``(i) the individual concerned, if the individual is an
     adult; or
 
       ``(ii) the individual's parent or guardian, if the
     individual is under 17 years of age; and
 
       ``(B) shall take such actions as are necessary to prevent
     unauthorized access to such information by a person other
     than the person making such communication and the recipient
     of such communication.
 
       ``(2) Exceptions.--A person making a communication
     described in subsection (a) may disclose such information if
     the disclosure is--
 
       ``(A) necessary to make the communication or conduct a
     legitimate business activity related to making the
     communication; or
 
       ``(B) made pursuant to a court order authorizing such
     disclosure.
 
       ``(e) Definitions.--For purposes of this subsection, the
     following definitions shall apply:
 
       ``(1) By means of the world wide web.--The term `by means
     of the World Wide Web' means by placement of material in a
     computer server-based file archive so that it is publicly
     accessible, over the Internet, using hypertext transfer
     protocol or any successor protocol.
 
       ``(2) Commercial purposes; engaged in the business.--
 
       ``(A) Commercial purposes.--A person shall be considered to
     make a communication for commercial purposes only if such
     person is engaged in the business of making such
     communications.
 
       ``(B) Engaged in the business.--The term `engaged in the
     business' means that the person who makes a communication, or
     offers to make a communication, by means of the World Wide
     Web, that includes any material that is harmful to minors,
     devotes time, attention, or labor to such activities, as a
     regular course of such person's trade or business, with the
     objective of earning a profit as a result of such activities
     (although it is not necessary that the person make a profit
     or that the making or offering to make such communications be
     the person's sole or principal business or source of income).
     A person may be considered to be engaged in the business of
     making, by means of the World Wide
     Web, communications for commercial purposes that include
     material that is harmful to minors, only if the person
     knowingly causes the material that is harmful to minors to be
     posted on the World Wide Web or knowingly solicits such
     material to be posted on the World Wide Web.
 
       ``(3) Internet.--The term `Internet' means the combination
     of computer facilities and electromagnetic transmission
     media, and related equipment and software, comprising the
     interconnected worldwide network of computer networks that
     employ the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol or
     any successor protocol to transmit information.
 
       ``(4) Internet access service.--The term `Internet access
     service' means a service that enables users to access
     content, information, electronic mail, or other services
     offered over the Internet, and may also include access to
     proprietary content, information, and other services as part
     of a package of services offered to consumers. Such term does
     not include telecommunications services.
 
       ``(5) Internet information location tool.--The term
     `Internet information location tool' means a service that
     refers or links users to an online location on the World Wide
     Web. Such term includes directories, indices, references,
     pointers, and hypertext links.
 
       ``(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.
 
       ``(7) Minor.--The term `minor' means any person under 17
     years of age.''.
 
     SEC. 1404. NOTICE REQUIREMENT.
 
       (a) Notice.--Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934
     (47 U.S.C. 230) is amended--
 
       (1) in subsection (d)(1), by inserting ``or 231'' after
     ``section 223'';
 
       (2) by redesignating subsections (d) and (e) as subsections
     (e) and (f), respectively; and
 
       (3) by inserting after subsection (c) the following new
     subsection:
 
       ``(d) Obligations of Interactive Computer Service.--A
     provider of interactive computer service shall, at the time
     of entering an agreement with a customer for the provision of
     interactive computer service and in a manner deemed
     appropriate by the provider, notify such customer that
     parental control protections (such as computer hardware,
     software, or filtering services) are commercially available
     that may assist the customer in limiting access to material
     that is harmful to minors. Such notice shall identify, or
     provide the customer with access to information identifying,
     current providers of such protections.''.
 
       (b) Conforming Amendment.--Section 223(h)(2) of the
     Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 223(h)(2)) is amended
     by striking ``230(e)(2)'' and inserting ``230(f)(2)''.
 
     SEC. 1405. STUDY BY COMMISSION ON ONLINE CHILD PROTECTION.
 
       (a) Establishment.--There is hereby established a temporary
     Commission to be known as the Commission on Online Child
     Protection (in this section referred to as the
     ``Commission'') for the purpose of conducting a study under
     this section regarding methods to help reduce access by
     minors to material that is harmful to minors on the Internet.
 
       (b) Membership.--The Commission shall be composed of 19
     members, as follows:
 
       (1) Industry members.--The Commission shall include--
 
       (A) 2 members who are engaged in the business of providing
     Internet filtering or blocking services or software;
 
       (B) 2 members who are engaged in the business of providing
     Internet access services;
 
       (C) 2 members who are engaged in the business of providing
     labeling or ratings services;
 
       (D) 2 members who are engaged in the business of providing
     Internet portal or search services;
 
       (E) 2 members who are engaged in the business of providing
     domain name registration services;
 
       (F) 2 members who are academic experts in the field of
     technology; and
 
       (G) 4 members who are engaged in the business of making
     content available over the Internet.
 
     Of the members of the Commission by reason of each
     subparagraph of this paragraph, an equal number shall be
     appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and
     by the Majority Leader of the Senate.
 
       (2) Ex officio members.--The Commission shall include the
     following officials:
 
       (A) The Assistant Secretary (or the Assistant Secretary's
     designee).
 
       (B) The Attorney General (or the Attorney General's
     designee).
 
       (C) The Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (or the
     Chairman's designee).
 
       (c) Study.--
 
       (1) In general.--The Commission shall conduct a study to
     identify technological or other methods that--
 
       (A) will help reduce access by minors to material that is
     harmful to minors on the Internet; and
 
       (B) may meet the requirements for use as affirmative
     defenses for purposes of section 231(c) of the Communications
     Act of 1934 (as added by this title).
 
     Any methods so identified shall be used as the basis for
     making legislative recommendations to the Congress under
     subsection (d)(3).
 
       (2) Specific methods.--In carrying out the study, the
     Commission shall identify and analyze various technological
     tools and methods for protecting minors from material that is
     harmful to minors, which shall include (without limitation)--
 
       (A) a common resource for parents to use to help protect
     minors (such as a ``one-click-away'' resource);
 
       (B) filtering or blocking software or services;
       (C) labeling or rating systems;
 
       (D) age verification systems;
 
       (E) the establishment of a domain name for posting of any
     material that is harmful to minors; and
 
       (F) any other existing or proposed technologies or methods
     for reducing access by minors to such material.
 
       (3) Analysis.--In analyzing technologies and other methods
     identified pursuant to paragraph (2), the Commission shall
     examine--
 
       (A) the cost of such technologies and methods;
 
       (B) the effects of such technologies and methods on law
     enforcement entities;
 
       (C) the effects of such technologies and methods on
     privacy;
 
       (D) the extent to which material that is harmful to minors
     is globally distributed and the effect of such technologies
     and methods on such distribution;
 
       (E) the accessibility of such technologies and methods to
     parents; and
 
       (F) such other factors and issues as the Commission
     considers relevant and appropriate.
 
       (d) Report.--Not later than 1 year after the enactment of
     this Act, the Commission shall submit a report to the
     Congress containing the results of the study under this
     section, which shall include--
 
       (1) a description of the technologies and methods
     identified by the study and the results of the analysis of
     each such technology and method;
 
       (2) the conclusions and recommendations of the Commission
     regarding each such technology or method;
 
       (3) recommendations for legislative or administrative
     actions to implement the conclusions of the committee; and
 
       (4) a description of the technologies or methods identified
     by the study that may meet the requirements for use as
     affirmative defenses for purposes of section 231(c) of the
     Communications Act of 1934 (as added by this title).
 
       (e) Staff and Resources.--The Assistant Secretary for
     Communication and Information of the Department of Commerce
     shall provide to the Commission such staff and resources as
     the Assistant Secretary determines necessary for the
     Commission to perform its duty efficiently and in accordance
     with this section.
 
       (f) Termination.--The Commission shall terminate 30 days
     after the submission of the report under subsection (d).
 
       (g) Inapplicability of Federal Advisory Committee Act.--The
     Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not
     apply to the Commission.
 
     SEC. 1406. EFFECTIVE DATE.
 
       This title and the amendments made by this title shall take
     effect 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act.