Online Pornography

Ashcroft v. ACLU, No. 00-1293

The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) makes it unlawful to make any communication for commercial purposes by means of the World Wide Web that is "harmful to minors" unless good faith efforts are made to prevent children from obtaining access to such material. The question presented in this case is whether the First Amendment permits the government to rely on community standards to identify the material that is "harmful to minors."

Read the Supreme Court's 1997 decision striking down the Communications Decency Act.

Read the new Child Online Protection Act of 1998

Read the Third Circuit's decision upholding an injunction that prevents the government from enforcing the Child Online Protection Act of 1998.

Read the government's brief in Ashcroft v. ACLU asking the Supreme Court to reverse the Third Circuit's decision and to remove the injunction.

Meanwhile, another law, the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, seeks to counter attempts by individuals to avoid criminal sanctions by using computer-generated images of young-looking adults to "simulate" child pornography.

Read the Ninth Circuit's opinion striking down these provisions on First Amendment grounds.

Read the government's brief to the Supreme Court defending the law.

Read the ACLU's amicus brief contending that the challenged provisions violate the First Amendment.

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