In 1998 the US Congress passed Child Online Protection Act. The Act was to impose a $50,000 fine and six-month prison term on commercial Web site operators who publish content "harmful to children',' as defined by "contemporary community standards". However, legal challenges from sexual health sites, the online magazine Salon.com and other internet publishers have kept it from being enforced. The US Supreme Court has twice granted preliminary injunctions that prevent the government from enforcing theAct until the case is tried.
Opponents of the Act contend that not only is it too broad and would therefore stifle free speech, but that advances in technology have made it obsolete. SiliconValley.com summarises the issues plaguing the Act.
Is the Act obsolete? Does the Act unduly infringe upon free speech? How can we protect children from offensive content that is available online?