BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 31 May, 2002, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
US net porn law overturned
internet page
Law designed to protect children against net porn
A US law designed to shield children from internet porn has been overturned.

Three federal judges said the law forcing libraries to use internet filters designed to block pornography went too far.

This is because the filters could also block access to sites that contain protected speech and could violate the First Amendment.

The case highlights the conflict between the right to free speech and the desire to protect children against obscenity on the web.

Speech concerns

The Children's Internet Protection Act, passed by Congress just over a year ago, sought to prevent children from accessing pornographic material on the internet.


Filters provide a false sense of security that children are protected when they are not

John Berry, American Library Association
Public libraries would have had to install the filters by July or risk losing federal funding.

But in their 195-page ruling, the judges said it would "restrict access to a substantial amount of protected speech."

They also said they were concerned that library visitors who wanted to view sites blocked by filtering software might be embarrassed or lose their right to remain anonymous because they would have to ask permission to have the sites unblocked.

Online content

The decision is a victory for the American Library Association (ALA) and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Filters are not the only, or the best, way to protect children," said ALA President John Berry.

"Filters provide a false sense of security that children are protected when they are not."

Groups fighting the law argue the software designed to filter out pornographic material can still let it through, while inadvertently blocking internet sites such as on breast cancer or homosexuality.

US Government lawyers maintain that the law is not intended to censor libraries.

They say the law calls for libraries to use the same care in selecting online content that they use for books and magazines.

Any appeal against the latest ruling will go directly to the US Supreme Court.

See also:

22 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
08 Oct 01 | Americas
08 Aug 01 | Americas
26 Mar 02 | Americas
Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes