Internet pornography or free speech? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Internet pornography or free speech?

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June 29, 2004

< p> < strong> Albany - Will your kids be protected from internet pornographers? Supreme Court Justices believe that could violate free speech.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a 1998 law aimed at shielding web-surfing kids from online porn is likely unconstitutional.

In a five-to-four decision, the nation's high court found the law probably violates the first amendment and that a lower court was right to block it from taking effect.

Albany Attorney Bob Beauchamp says the justices sent the case back to a lower court for a trial. That gives the government a chance to prove its stance that the law does not go too far. He says, "But, because of the way the statute was drafted, it was a very close call. It needed to be sent down to the lower courts to decide what's more important, protecting these children or protecting our free speech? If it's not very defined in that statute then the court is not going to uphold it."

The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) passed in 1998, but never took effect.

Those posting material deemed harmful to children within easy reach on the internet could have faced a $50,000 fine and six months in prison.

posted at 6:20PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com