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Free Expression

Government Refuses to Accept COPA As Unconstitutional

Back in July, a federal appellate court ruled against the government once again in the long-standing case against the Child Online Protection Act. The 3rd Circuit held that the law – which would censor a significant amount of valuable online content – violates the First Amendment. Unhappy with the three-judge panel’s decision, the government has asked the full “en banc” court to reconsider the case. While Congress had a good goal in mind when it passed COPA – to shield minors from unsavory websites – the legislation that passed was grossly over broad and imprecise, folding in online content, such as health information and Web art, that is legal under the First Amendment and recognized as valuable by most citizens.

Moreover, the courts in this case have consistently held that voluntary technological tools – such as filtering software – that enable parents to control what their children can access on the Internet are more effective than COPA at protecting minors, provide parents with more flexibility consistent with their own family values, and most importantly don’t violate the First Amendment. The government is once again denying the obvious – that COPA is unconstitutional – and is wasting valuable taxpayer dollars on a case that has gone on for a decade. CDT hopes that the full Third Circuit Court of Appeals wisely denies the government’s rehearing motion.