Yet another court has ruled against the 1994 Child Online Protection Act, a major victory for civil rights advocates. The law has been a mess from the start. With the stated goal of protecting kids from pornography, it would punish offending websites with $50,000 fines and jail time for exposing children to “harmful” material, whether intentionally or not. Innocent sites like Salon and BoingBoing could’ve been targeted under the legislation.
Judge Reed said that while he sympathised with the need to protect minors, the 1998 Child Online Protection Act was problematic.
“I may not turn a blind eye to the law… to protect this nation’s youth by upholding a flawed statute, especially when a more effective and less restrictive alternative is readily available,” he wrote.
The act was challenged by civil liberties groups and sexual health and other websites, including the online magazine salon.com, which claimed it was too restrictive and unconstitutional.