ORAL ARGUMENTS FOR COPA BEFORE SUPREME COURT – MARCH 2, 2004

Note: For links giving the progress of the full trial in Philadelphia (that started Oct. 23, 2006) please go to this link. On March 22, 2007 Judge Lowell Reed declared the law unconstitutional. Here is my blogger entry on it. Or visit colpa link below.

Note: The Supreme Court has just extended the injunction barring enforcement COPA (6/29/2004), by a 5-4 vote. Apparently the case must go back to the District Court in Pennsylvania for a full trial on the merits. I will post more details as soon as I have them. Apparently the trial will start in October 2006 in Philadelphia. In  the meantime please check http://www.supremecourtus.gov   http://www.cnn.com/law  The AP story is at http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/06/29/scotus.online.porn.ap/index.html.

I understand that briefs for a new trial in the original district court in Philadelphia are due Dec 7 2004. The actual trial should follow shortly thereafter, although I do not have an exact date yet. The HPPUB site link is http://www.doaskdotell.com/content/colpa.htm (was hppub.com/colpa.htm)

There is a conceptual discussion of COPA at my blogspot.com link, and COPA and filtering/labeling link.

The majority opinion talks about “content-based speech restriction” and whether filtering is an effective but less restrictive means, given uncertainty in the record so far about the scope of rapidly evolving technology. By mid July 2004 I'll post a detailed response to both the majority opinions and to the dissent (especially Justice Breyer's, which is very detailed and interesting), in conjunction with my other plans.  The opinion text is at http://www.doaskdotell.com/content/co03-218.pdf  (or http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/29june20041115/www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/03pdf/03-218.pdf)

7/05/2004: My comments have been posted at this link.

The rest of my original account of the oral arguments follows now on this page:  

 The main information page for the litigation challenging the Child Online Protection Act is at the site involved in the litigation, http://www.hppub.com  (now obsolete) (which is merged with doaskdotell.com as of July 2005). The case is before the Supreme Court again, this time without considering earlier arguments about how to apply community standards for a national medium (the Court has indicated that a national standard--or jury instructions to apply a national standard as to the notion of "prurience"--is not necessarily unconstitutional for online or broadcast media, and, in a general way, limitation of publishers to media [hardcopy print or expensive adult screening systems] that allow geographic furcation for erotic images or depictions, may not necessarily create an undue burden given previous cases like Hamling). Attention had also been given to the legal notion that "serious value" (for minors) normally does not invoke local community standards. The Third Circuit, instructed to look at arguments other than those involving local community standards, had overturned the statute again in March 2003 (that is, by upholding the District Court's injunction), largely on concerns over certain ambiguities in the law, such as what "taken as a whole" means on a website.(The Third Circuit pointed out that the Act seems to say that for a sexually explicit image, the image by itself is a whole; the Third Circuit also interpreted "minors" as all persons under 17, meaning that any material prurient but not valuable to an elementary age child would make it HTM, and the Circuit agreed with most other arguments that purport that COPA is overbroad.) Some of the Justices (Kennedy and Stevens in particular) expressed concern over the breadth of COPA in its intellectually strictest and most literal interpretations.

I attended the Oral Arguments today (Tuesday, March 2, 2004) at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC at 11 AM. I did not get there in time to get full seating, because there was another case before (Dretke v. Haley, a habeas corpus case from Texas), and those admitted first were allowed to stay for both cases. So I was admitted from the three-minute line, but nevertheless I heard a significant portion of the arguments by Ann Beeson from the ACLU (plaintiffs).  On Tuesday, March 30, 2004, I attempted to attend a full morning session, but the line was much longer than it had been for COPA (where it was moderate). (The cases on March 30 were Johnson v. California, about group bias in a prosecutor's preemptory jury challenges after voir dire, and Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain; United States v. Alvarez-Machain kidnapping in a foreign country to made a federal drug or terrorism-related arrest.)

The Supreme Court shows a video to visitors (in a special theater on the premises) about the oral argument process, and the argument is rather like the Court talking to itself, or having a debate with itself, with the attorneys as intermediaries. The 24-minute film is compelling. It admits that the Court lost public credibility after the Dred Scott Case decision of 1857, although result was more a denial of jurisdiction for the case. Sandra Day O'Connor talks about the amendments, and considers the 14th Amendment (which incorporates much of the Bill of Rights of 1791 to the states) almost as an effective "Second Bill of Rights." Justice Thomas mentions that when the Court refuses to hear a case, it is issuing no opinion and is doing nothing binding on other circuits, and is not necessarily upholding a legal claim in an appellate opinion that it does not chose to review. There is also a public lecture in the court chambers, and the lecturer mentioned that one does not have to be a lawyer or even a citizen to qualify for Supreme Court appointment(!), but also that the Court (and the judiciary as a whole), must wait for issues to come to it in order to act, whereas the legislature or executive or (for that matter) a freelance writer (like me!) can address an agenda anytime. The lecture also deals partly with the history of the building (not built until 1935), some of the artwork which includes a statute of Moses holding the Ten Commandments (this is a "reference" to the text, not the text itself), and the unwillingness of the court to allow itself to be seen directly by the media (by photograph or electronic closed-circuit broadcast) even though that would make it easier for the public to watch proceedings

Let me get to the arguments now. One justice brought up the idea that a piece of web content would cross the line into illegality only if it attempted to incite the emotional experience of sexuality, and not simply for conveying information (political, medical or even technical) about sexually explicit matters. There was concern about how this affected some plaintiffs who actually present content about sexual pleasure, as opposed to sexual politics.  I get the impression that the Court is not necessarily buying earlier government contentions that COPA is really aimed only at pornography (particularly deliberately placed pornographic teasers); although this position may sound reasonable, because adults may access non-obscene pornography in many venues today ("XXX movies") whereas minors may not. On the other hand, some justices (such as Justice O'Connor) had indicated in the 2002 Opinion that "harmful to minors" probably did not apply to sexually concerned material that provides scientific information or that supports the basis of any political argument, however provocative (such as adoption by gay parents).

Then the question turned to how a web operator could comply. Ms Beeson said there were three ways (1) make no change and run the risk of prosecution (2) self-censor, and (3) install the adult-id filters. In fact, I believe that I am the only plaintiff who has self-censored, from a few sharp-edged of the passages in the first three chapters of my first Do Ask, Do Tell book, in the online static HTML display. It should be noted that electronic bookstores sometimes now provide “search inside the book” features that might allow a minor to find an uncensored passage, although other online stores show the text in “gif” (graphical) format that now is not searchable and troublesome passages are not easily found accidentally.  One of the justices asked if the law was clear enough to provide a guide for self-censorship. Of course, Ms Beeson insisted that it is not, and I can say that any web publisher would have to interpret the three prongs of the “harmful to minor” definition, at his own risk. However, one point of defense would probably be the logical consistency and “good faith” of the operator's interpretation of the law. 

On adult-id filters, there was still some confusion as to their efficacy. When I wrote my first DADT book in 1997, I actually suggested them myself (with some naivete). As far as I know, credit cards are used only for real financial transactions, not as a very questionable ID for viewing free adult content. Some porn website operators offer adult-id accounts, but these are expensive and not practical for use with non-pornographic adult content. Furthermore, use of credit cards or adult id cards cause loss of anonymity and will chill access to First Amendment-protected non-obscene adult material by legal adults. The chilling effect occurs with both the expense, loss of anonymity, and practical inconvenience. (However, very recently as of 2004, it seems that there are some companies offering merchant accounts with credit card processing for low or no monthly fees, but [in a COPA-compliant situation] they would charge a fee per transaction just to view "free" content!)

There was also some discussion of the imprecise definition of the universe of minors. Does a site “taken as a whole” have to have value to all minors, just one minor, the average minor? Here we have the “Smallville” effect, where some teenagers are much more mature, in terms of intellect, moral compass, and cultural preparation than average. I recommended my own books for high school (age 15) and older, but not for children. Ann Beeson mentioned the MPAA movie rating system as comparison, and mentioned Bernardo Bertolucci’s NC-17 film (The Dreamers, from Fox Searchlight), which I review on my hppub site. She also mentioned a site that discussed the television series Sex in the City. The suggestion was that an explicit review might cross the HTM threshold as well as the movie itself. 

A story by Charles Lane, "Porn Law Before Court: Justices Asked to Uphold Child Online Protection Act" appears in The Washington Post, p. A7, March 3, 2004.The article raises several more points. Justice O'Connor mentioned that other pornography laws that can affect adults are not enforced much. Justice Ginsberg raised concerns about privacy ofr adults. Justice Kennedy raised questions about what the "whole" of the value clause meant and concerns about the breadth of the legislation in targeting entire websties. Justices Breyer, Scalia, and Rehnquist were sympathetic to the practical difficulty that parents have in monitoring their children's access, sometimes unintentional, to adult sites, but Ms. Beeson mentioned that the software industry has provided many effective tools that work better than laws (such as AOL's kids only zones). Justice Stevens seemed to feel that the privacy concerns about credit card numbers may be a red herring because consumers use them all the time, but Ms. Beeson reminded the Court that credit cards are designed for high-volume financial transactions, not for regulating access to content which may be relatively low in volume but still effective with its audience. 

But more meaning for all of this occurred both before and after the arguments. While waiting in line, I had a chance to discuss the case with a private high school civics teacher, and we had a chance to talk about COPA in relation to education about other issues such as gays in the military, and gay marriage. One point of our discussion was whether the Full Faith and Credit Clause would still “exempt” states from having gay marriage imposed on them by other states, and I maintain that (Charles Krauthammer notwithstanding), that it would; the Supreme Court would never force one state or the federal government to honor just one other state’s definition of marriage. We also discussed conflict of interest for those who publish controversial materials on the web, and he acknowledged that the kind of activity I have might not be allowed of a public school teacher.  

After the hearing, I had lunch in the canteen of the Supreme Court building, and there were about twenty-five senior classmen ("midshipmen," from the class of 04) from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and they were here for a political science class project. About ten of these were women. I believe that the justices saw them in uniform in the audience, which would have provided a subliminal reminder of the connection of this to speech about “don’t ask, don’t tell.” We talked about the whole history of the ban during lunch, and I mentioned that credit card verification might provide a chilling effect if one of them visited a gay website, even though doing so does not violate the conduct regulations of “don’t ask don’t tell.” Of course, even without verification computers leave trails of access and hidden files that investigators could use in witch-hunts. One of the female upperclassmen disputed the idea that adult-id schemes were unworkable, and thought that major software companies like Microsoft and AOL would be able to come up with an efficient, cost-effective scheme to enable compliance even with stricter interpretations of the prongs. But the chilling effect of loss of anonymity could remain (although it is easy for military investigators to track computer use anyway).  It was certainly an important opportunity to have a conversation about matters like COPA and "don't ask don't tell" with persons who some years down may be making major policy decisions in the military. This Supreme Court session is part of their education and preparation. 

Where does this leave things? The concern over whether writing is “emotional” or merely “informative” concerns me, because a book (like mine, now available on line) is bound to evoke some emotions if the author believes that its narrative can lead to commercial gain (not just book sales but possibly motion picture or television treatments). Therefore even an indirect “commercial” motive might make a web owner a more inviting target. More serious is the concern that the Act does not define what subset of minors is meant by the phrase “with respect to minors” (although the government says this is just “some minors”), so it might be hard to maintain that any work “taken as a whole” is of value to all minors. The “taken as a whole” probably refers to one file on a website, but even this is fuzzy since many web pages are displayed dynamically from databases or scripts, with content controlled by various users.  In fairness to the government's case, it must be said that the government's briefs (for the latest oral arguments) suggest that the "serious value" clause (as apparently is the case with state HTM laws) comes into play (and prevents a "harmful to minors" finding) if any reasonable older (16 year old) would find legitimate value, that the "whole" usually refers to the whole website (unless the operator acts in bad faith) and occasional explicit material does not cross the line.

Here, I reflect back to my impression when I joined the litigation in 1998. At worst, the HTM could have referred to all minors (not just "Clark Kent" or "Ephram Brown" minors), the "whole" could have been the image or text that a minor would see from a search engine access (in the case of a teaser this would have been one image, maybe), and "prurient" might have referred to any sexually provocative language beyond merely clinical discussion. (The community standards concept seems to be a "national" standard now.) The government seems to have moved away from any such draconian interpretation, but the Court could choose to describe its own in some concurring opinion. Or the Court could send the case all the way back to the trial court.

I do think that it is time to review the question as to whether an effective and inexpensive adult-id subscription could be designed by major software vendors or ISPs if the law is upheld. But this does not answer the question of anonymity, especially now in view of the Patriot Act. 

Many people believe that as a moral point, many of us should be willing to give up some personal freedom (in terms of convenient access to legally acceptable speech or in terms of business opportunity for individuals competing with large interests) for the benefit of protecting children and the vulnerable. Justice Breyer alluded to this point in the arguments (at one point saying that it might be preferable to "let adults see anything with a burden attached"--when adults have a legal right to see non-obscene materials), and in the May 2002 opinion Justice Thomas had written that the use of an inexpensive and efficient new technology does not relieve a publisher or burdens from protecting minors that had been simple in earlier modes of content delivery (hard-copy by mail and retail). With small business owners or individuals, there might be troubling ethical questions about supervision or “authentication” of the content that they offer. The corollary, however, is that some speech will be favored over other speech in such an arrangement, and this may be an unacceptable First Amendment infringement in our system. Even now, we know that context, motive and purpose affects what is viewed as acceptable for minors. The violence of Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ is would normally make it unsuitable for minors, but because of the religious context many parents want their kids to see it anyway.  There is also some relevance to the film A Few Good Men and the way a critical scene was handled in broadcast network editing for broadcast national "community" standards. In general, the notion that network television has been airing gay-oriented material (like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) in prime time (as well as portrayals of gay couple and public discussion of gay marriage) suggests that a national standard for "harmful to minors" would not now target GLBT material because of its ideas and implications, but it is not completely clear that the same standards would be applied when GLBT material was presented to "invoke emotional interest"; the idea of defining marriage (as an exclusively heterosexual institution) in the Constitution might undercut equal protection analysis in legal problmes such as determining when GLBT material is "harmful to minors." 

In any case, if COPA were to be upheld, I would have to see how the Court interprets the prongs and other questions like what set of minors (“Smallville effect”) is intended. (The only definition is under 17, but note above how the government has already begged the quesiton on this, and the Court could provide an interpretation of its own which is more alarming.) It might take some exaggerated thinking or rationalization by the government to apply the Second Prong to me, since I do not have any explicit images (as one would expect with "pornography"), but I do have "provocative" references to them. Possibly the Court would send it back to lower courts for this determination, or even order a complete trial on merits at the district court. If COPA is struck down, there remains the likelihood that Congress would pass another version with some of the ambiguities defined and overbreadth removed. In any outcome, I would have to follow a content deployment policy that is intellectually consistent with one interpretation of the statute (after guidance form the Courts or Congress), and other related intellectual property law. This would probably take about thirty days from the time that opinions and other guidance materials were available.

COPA, as I have shown here, links to many other cultural issues about balancing individual freedom with accountability to others. It also raises troubling questions about governance, and the role of government in striking this balance in a culture where the free market ought to deliver solutions. The irony of this issue is that it is the free display of culturally provocative material on the Internet, as well as in the media (television, cable, and the movies) that encourages resolution of controversy by the legislative or political process-or better, the free market--and not just by the courts. I thought that conservatives want this! The United States is trying to build constitutional democratic government in other parts of the world with other cultures (Iraq) and the example it sets is very important now.

Is there a better technical "free market"solution (than current filters)? I think so. The way this should work is that an ISP like AOL validates a customer's age when the customer enrolls, and that web content providers provide metatags containing codes that relate to ages and content ratings (similar to movie ratings). This would not be expensive or burdensome, even for small content-providing businesses, if implemented properly (it could be harder for smaller ISPs), and should not deter adults from seeing adult-rated non-obscene material efficiently.  Content providers would have to self-rate in "good faith" (I'm not proposing an MPAA rating board for the web, that is not practical!), and administrative procedures would have to negotiate disputes (as ICANN proposes for domain names). However browser companies (such as Microsoft) would have to put the hooks into browser software like IE (as well as metatag creation in products like Front Page, and Word, and the "monopoly" issue with Microsoft could be an issue; IE has some such capability now). Operating systems would have to offer hooks, also, with their login security, so that homes and public places (like libraries) with direct Internet connections could differentiate access after validating the age of users (and I can imagine fights over this). There could be implications for asp's, java libraries (jsp's, servlets, beans, etc), .NET, and so forth.  Companies would not develop solutions like this (they will have to work together) without an economic and legal incentive. I have a general and varied I.T. background, and I will start looking into all of this.  I certainly don't want to host people's credit card numbers or ID cards (and then have a potential privacy liability because of hackers) and I think that an economical and effective solution rests with the software vendors and ISPs, with the content publisher mainly responsible for fair "good faith" rating of the content. It should be added here that Congress probably didn't intend to pass a law that would inadvertently add to the proliferation of credit card numbers being stored on small companies' or individuals' domains or servers and therefore collectively increase the risk of identity theft or even increase the risk to national security by creating multiple new targets for hackers.

To some extent, this is already happening, as larger ISPs offer kids only zones with pre-cleared sites and so do some libraries with for-kids terminals or rooms (although this has also led to litigation). These efforts augment the use of screening software, which is far from perfect. So COPA puts the question back on the shoulders of content providers for what they publish, and raises the question of whether or how government should be involved instead of depending on the market. But content provision and credit card merchant processing do not always fit together, as credit cards and id's are often more efficiently and securely processed ("outsourced") by third parties, even if other questions raised here are resolved.

The Third Circuit also suggested the possibility of domain name zoning, which would require action by ICANN in its tld (top-level domain name) conventions.

A final opinion from the Supreme Court could come at any time before July 2004. I will be able to determine what I must do to comply with any decision within thirty days of the publication of the Opinion. The legal reasoning, as applied to my material and circumstances, will be as important as the vote count. However the Third Circuit was unwilling to suggest any "narrowing construction" (Virginia v. American Booksellers' Association) on the breadth of COPA to make some plaintiffs more comfortable. Were the Supreme Court to vacate the injunction and remand the case to trial at the District Court, we also would not have any significant narrowing available to us (other than perhaps the remarks in the 2002 opinion, of which Justice Kennedy's and O'Connor's were the most interesting). However, motion pictures and broadcast television over the past six years have given us more of an idea of what a "national standard" for material acceptable to incidental exposure even to younger minors is, and this standard, at least with respect to controversial issues (gay issues) does seem to have broadened, as evidenced in the constant coverage of gay marriage or legal cases like Michael Jackson's. Is is also possible to accept temporarily the government's latest two briefs as a "narrowing construction" as to how the law will be interpreted by the Department of Justice for enforcement. However, I must concede that the remarks by the Third Circuit and Justice Kennedy in the 2002 Opinion seem much closer to a literal reading of the statute (the basis under which some of us claimed standing to sue) than do the government's briefs. The Supreme Court did instruct the Third Circuit to rule on the construction scope of the act before determining the question of overbreadth, so the Supreme Court may believe that it must rule on the Third Circuit's broad interpretation of COPA's reach, or else send it back. It seems to me that if Congress had really wanted to limit the scope to commercial pornography as we normally perceive it, it would not have been difficult to write the statute more explicitly, and the same comment applies to issues like age subsets of minors and the contextual meaning or "denominator" of a "whole" Internet article or image. (I cannot find the word "pornography" in the text of the Act, even in the findings or contextual clauses outside the HTM definition). Indeed, the government's attempt to narrow the law in its briefs comes across as an indirect admission that a literal interpretation of the statute renders it unconstitutionally overbroad as an abridgement of First Amendment protected non-obscene speech for adults. State laws, based on older media with different and slower content delivery mechanics, don't necessarily provide completely satisfactory precedents for interpretation, although the precise wording of the Second Prong does seem to provide some justification for believing that Congress was mainly concerned with "pornography" after all. (The First Prong might also be read as meaning literally that the author or web publisher had to intend (or "design") deliberately to appeal to the prurient interest of at least some minors.) On the other hand, the government could be correct in maintaining (as it does in one brief) that an ambiguous law should be administered and interpreted in the "narrowest" fashion reasonable so as not to challenge constitutionality for overbreadth.

The Court would also have to think about boundary lines in applying the notion of fundamental rights (free speech with the First Amendment, free anonymous access to non-obscene speech of others, and privacy) in this case, in comparison to other situations in physical space (like entries to bars [which can show adult webcasts] and movie theaters) where adult identification is required. In the case of electronic access, the possibility of automatic logging of adult access-id arguably creates a much greater risk to privacy and security for the consumer. The amount of inconvenience or "burden" that adults should incur to protect (other people's) children (from unsupervised incidental access to adult materials) brings up the question of individual rights in comparison to perceived public good.

Were the statute to be upheld (or injunction vacated) without a reassuring "limiting construction," some large commercial sites could be at a theoretical risk, to say the least. Try going to amazon.com and using the book text search facility with a sexually explicit phrase. It's easy to find passages that many people would consider "harmful to minors," at least until a "whole context" is applied. Would amazon.com have to pull books with sexually explicit content from its database, or would it at least have to ask authors about content and disable the "search inside the book" for books with sexually explicit content? I hope this is possible. The amazon example shows that it is easy for a mainstream site, out of an attempt to provide convenience to customers, might inadvertently invite exposure of minors to arguably inappropriate material online. A book author or publisher, expecting the normal mechanics of handling physical books (maybe even e-books under concepts like Softlock),  may not anticipate the idea that explicit passages in book could inappropriately be found effortlessly by some minors with new technology.

Some perspective on the legal concept of "harmful to minors" with respect to minors of intermediate age (just entering adolescence) can be gleaned by consideration of the media portrayal, both on primetime network television news and on commercial new websites, of the male prisoners of war or detainees in Iraq who appear to be sexually abused. Media outlets have blotted out the most explicit part of the images, however they are still quite shocking. The Army apparently withheld these images in January from public disclosure for four months, and says that there may be worse images to come. Furthermore, this abuse apparently came to light in late 2003 through the honesty of one enlisted man, who insisted on reporting the abuse through the chain of command, followed by some digital photographs (which apparently were taken in part by one of the interrogators now charged) development which emphasizes how the speech (well-intended or not) of one or a few ordinary persons may, in asymmetric fashion, have enormous public implications (an important observation in First Amendment cases like COPA and a note that probably helps us understand why societies have resisted new speech in the past, with devices like sedition laws). Anecdotal reports show that some male minors are disturbed by these pictures, but presumably they have value to these minors because of the moral issues (treatment of prisoners of war) being questioned. So they are probably legal under COPA, but that is more a national community standards judgment than one that could be made in court. Conservative columnist George Will called these photos "pornography" on an ABC news show. There is more about this on my military ban footnote file at http://www.doaskdotell.com/content/wchap4.htm.

Time magazine, on May 10, 2004, p. 58, presented a report "What Makes Teens Tick," a documented scientific evidence that the human brain has not physiologically matured until about age 25 (after periods of growth and "pruning" of redundant neural connections), so the idea that minors are harmed by exposure to certain media materials may be gaining more scientific credibility.

On January 2005, a federal judge in Pittsburgh struck down a federal obscenity law. This could actual affect another COPA trial because the ACLU has long maintained that existing obscenity laws prevent some materials from being available to minors. The references on this site is here.

A goal for the plaintiffs challenging COPA would be that any content that can legally (for example, non-obscene) printed in books and magazines or produced in commercial films (for theaters and DVDs) can be displayed by speakers on the Internet without unreasonable cost or burden in protecting children and without unreasonable burden on adults who have a First Amendment right to access the material. Books, magazines and movies in the physical world can be segregated from minors more easily than can Internet content, and that is the core of the issue.

Here is the CNN Law Center (and Associated Press) reference on the hearing.

Back to historical summary

Here is the text of COPA.

Here is my affidavit.

View a related piece on Lawrence v. Texas (COPA is mentioned).

Here is a discussion of tangentially related problems regarding Internet freedom and national security (see especially note 12):

  http://www.doaskdotell.com/content/epatriot.htm

Here are the latest ACLU references:

http://www.aclu.org/Privacy/Privacy.cfm?ID=15079&c=130&MX=1152&H=0

http://www.aclu.org/Privacy/Privacy.cfm?ID=15131&c=252

This is a link giving more links to the latest briefs from both sides

http://www.aclu.org/Privacy/Privacy.cfm?ID=15065&c=252#1

Scott Rosenberg of Salon provides this account "Don't Worry, Be Sexy" on March 3, 2004. (Salon is one of the plaintiffs.)

http://www.salon.com/tech/col/rose/2004/03/03/supreme_court/index.html


Here is an example of a state "harmful to minors" law, Wisconsin (age 18), section 948.11

http://folio.legis.state.wi.us/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=377680574&infobase=stats.nfo&jump=ch.%20948

(There is some controversy over the age of consent in some states. For example, in Wisconsin. section 948.055 would make showing certain materials to a minor under 18 a crime.  See also http://www.ageofconsent.com/wisconsin.htm Sometimes exceptions exist at age 17, according to definitions at top of chart)

For more on Internet content ratings, visit the Internet Content Rating Association.

Here is another news account from the AP and CNN.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/03/02/scotus.online.porn.ap/index.html

©Copyright 2004 by Bill Boushka. All rights reserved subject to fair use.

For a general discussion of Internet censorship in other countries, especially for political purposes, see Joshua Kurtlantzick, "Dictatorship.com: The Web won't topple tyrant", The New Republic, April 5, 2004.

Contact reference  http://www.doaskdotell.com/contact.htm

March 2, 2004

Last updated June 23, 2004

There is a new effort by the organization "Enough is Enough" and others to restrict access to Internet pornography by minors.

This link on adult access describes my planned response to any decision, which can come any time in June 2004.