Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft


U.S. law seen usurping adult control over Internet

January 26, 1999 Web posted at: 8:14 PM EST (0114 GMT)

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) -- The U.S. government could usurp parental control over what children see on the Internet if a new law designed to restrain online pornography goes into effect, companies opposed to the law told a federal court Tuesday.

In closing arguments before U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed, an attorney for 17 Internet companies assailed the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) as a measure that violates the constitutional right to free speech while imposing unreasonable costs on businesses that populate the World Wide Web.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Ann Beeson said the public would be better served if families opted for commercially available filtering software capable of stopping Web browsers on home personal computers from visiting pornographic Web sites.

"It should be up to parents, and not the government, to decide what children should see," she told Reed at the end of five days of hearings.

Beeson said filtering software would not only return authority over home PCs to parents but go farther than COPA by blocking non-commercial and foreign-based Web sites.