A federal judge in Philadelphia is hearing another challenge to the federal Children Online Protection Act (COPA), which Congress enacted in 1998 but was never enforced as it bounced all the way up to the Supreme Court and back down again. U.S. District Judge Lowell A. Reed Jr. is hearing the American Civil Liberties Union case without a jury, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. He will decide whether the law aimed at keeping children from accessing Internet porn should stand, be modified, or fall.
The Inquirer says that because Reed has rejected the display of dirty pictures, “the trial has become something of a wonk’s drama, a battle of experts, including a university philosopher, talking about Internet filters and online commerce.” The ACLU argues that the law overreaches and that parents have access to filters and other measures, such as monitoring their children’s Internet activities and educating them about the Web’s dangers. The government counters that many households do not have filters and that filters are not foolproof. The government maintains that none of the plaintiffs, including Salon.com, the sex advice site scarleteen.com, and the merchant site condomania.com, would be covered by COPA.