Porn Proof Your Child

Porn Proof Your Child

COPA: A Quiet Death
© 2009 Teresa Cook

No one brought flowers, and few papers printed its obituary; the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) died a quiet death on January 21, 2009. In fact, the ten-year-old legislation never really had a chance to live.

Designed to protect children from Internet pornography by requiring commercial online pornography distributors to verify the age of their consumers, COPA was born a year after the Supreme Court killed a similar law, the Communications Decency Act. However, courts blocked COPA at every turn until the Supreme Court finally refused to hear any more cases, effectively laying it to rest.1
COPA had its flaws—it failed to address other threats such as online predators; it would be ineffective against many pornographic web sites based in other countries—but these weaknesses did not cause its demise. Instead, the American Civil Liberties Union’s old mantra of "free speech" drowned out any chance of the law’s survival.2

In the battle for COPA, judges claimed blocking filters worked better than legislation, ignoring the fact that less than half of parents use filtering software.3 And since filters at home won’t protect children at libraries, friends’ houses, or Internet cafйs, the judges also overlooked COPA’s potential for adding another layer of protection outside the home.
The Supreme Court’s execution of COPA confirms that they believe giving pornographers carte blanche to profit from obscenity (cloaked as a First Amendment "right") is more important than our children’s safety. Patrick Trueman, who headed the Justice Department’s anti-obscenity unit from 1988 to 1993, expressed doubt that Congress would ever again try to enact legislation to protect children from pornography.4 Of course, many other countries have faced the same attitudes and lack of support from their governments for years.
So it’s up to us.

In addition to implementing the protection procedures outlined on this web site (See Articles: "Plug the Holes: Internet" and others), we can become active in the fight against pornography.
  • Contact congressmen about applicable legislation. We can’t give up because one law bit the dust. In July 2007, senators introduced S1780, the Protecting Children from Indecent Programming Act, to "require the FCC, in enforcing its regulations concerning the broadcast of indecent programming, to maintain a policy that a single word or image may be considered indecent." It still hasn’t been acted upon.
  • Subscribe to newsletters to stay current on public policy and dangers to our children. BreakPoint, NetFamilyNews, and Center for Parent/Youth Understanding all provide web sites and email newsletters on a variety of today’s topics from a Christian perspective.
  • Complain to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about indecent programming.
  • Join family organizations to unite with other parents to fight for our children. Associations such as Focus on the Family, American Family Association (AFA), AFA’s, and Parents Television Council provide opportunities for parents to impact programmers, advertisers, and others.
  • Vote for anti-porn officials, especially judges.
  • Complain. Ask stores to remove objectionable material. Petition video stores to stop selling "backroom" videos. Call radio and television stations and complain about indecent programming. Contact advertisers and encourage them to drop sponsorship of vulgar shows.
Effective social action often takes place on a personal, one-on-one level. We may do the most good by holding our officials and businesses accountable community by community.
It’s up to us, not the government, to protect our children. Let’s not let our children’s innocence meet the same untimely death as COPA.


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