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Law to protect kids from Internet porn dies after 13 years

January 21, 2009 |  9:39 am

Anti-pornography protesters

A 13-year legal drive to shield children from pornography on the Internet ended in defeat today when the Supreme Court let the Child Online Protection Act die quietly.

The measure, which never went into effect, made it a crime to put sexually explicit material on a website for commercial gain unless the sponsor used some means, such as requiring a credit card, to keep out minors.

It was repeatedly blocked from taking effect on free-speech grounds by judges, including the Supreme Court in 2004. The justices had also voided an earlier, even broader law passed in 1996 that prohibited "indecency" on the Web.

The outcome preserves the Web as a wide-open forum for free expression. It also leaves to parents the duty to install software filters if they wish to block pornography on their home computers.

Read the full story here.

-- David G. Savage

Photo: In this 1997 photo, protesters demonstrate after the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of a law against indecency online. The Supreme Court today let die an amended version of the law. Credit: Patsy Lynch / Associated Press