AP on Internet Porn Regulation

By Eric Goldman

Associated Press runs a retrospective/status report on Congress’ battle against Internet porn. Believe it or not, this battle recently entered its second decade–Congress’ first effort, the Communications Decency Act, was passed in February 1996. After that law was struck down, Congress passed the Child Online Protection Act in 1998, a law that has already resulted in two US Supreme Court opinions, led to a major flap between Google and the DOJ, and is now scheduled for trial in October. As the detritus of Congress’ efforts spills out to new fronts, I can’t fathom just how much legal work has been spurred by Congress’ fixation on Internet porn.

Meanwhile, as the article points out, everyone has moved past children’s access to online porn to even more problematic issues like online sexual predators, adware/spyware concerns and copyright liability for P2P file sharing. As a result, if the trial court upholds the law, there will be massive shock and panic as the Internet industry contemplates how to comply with a law that virtually everyone has been ignoring for 8 years.