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Public Policy Updates

"Just as we assume a responsibility to guard our young people up to a certain age from the possible harmful effects of alcohol and tobacco, so do I believe we have a right and a responsibility to protect them from the even more harmful effects of exposure to smut and pornography. We can and must frame legislation that will accomplish this purpose without endangering freedom of speech and the press."

- Ronald Reagan
January 5, 1967

National Public Policy efforts aimed at protecting children online.

  •  Dot Kids Name Act of 2001

  • Children's Internet Protection Act of 2000 (CIPA)
    CIPA requires public schools and libraries receiving federal e-rate funds to use a portion of those funds to filter their Internet access. They must filter out obscenity on library computer terminals used by adults and both obscenity and harmful-to-minors materials on terminals used by minor children.

  • Child Online Protection Act of 1998 (COPA)
    COPA makes it a crime for commercial websites to make pornographic material that is "harmful to minors" available to juveniles. The purpose of COPA is to protect children from instant access to pornographic "teaser images" on porn syndicate Web pages. This much needed legislation requires pornographers to take a credit card number, adult verification number, or access code to restrict children's access to pornographic pictures, and allow access to consenting adults.

    The ACLU challenged the constitutionality of COPA in federal court. The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on COPA on November 28, 2001 to decide whether the Act is constitutional.
    COPA Statute. More on COPA:

    The COPA Commission, a congressionally appointed panel, was mandated by the Child Online Protection Act, which was approved by Congress in October 1998. The primary purpose of the Commission is to "identify technological or other methods that will help reduce access by minors to material that is harmful to minors on the Internet."

    The Commission released its final report to Congress on Friday, October 20, 2000.

    The Report advised Congress that it could take steps to protect children online, by dedicating more resources to the prosecution of Internet obscenity and child pornography. The Report also identified a number of technologies that may satisfy the affirmative defense requirements of the Act. One of the suggestions supported by all members of the Commission was the recommendation to educate America's parents about what measures are available for protecting children online.

  •  Child Protection and Sexual Predator Punishment Act of 1998
    This law increases protections for children from sexual predators. This Act has two central provisions: The first requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to report evidence of child pornography and abuse violations to law enforcement, and the second establishes a "zero-tolerance" policy toward the possession of child pornography. The possession law allows prosecution for illegal possession of even one item of child pornography.

  •  Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 (CPPA)

    CPPA was enacted to close a loophole in the nation's child pornography laws. The loophole would have allowed pedophiles to use new technologies to create computer generated child pornography, which could have been legal to possess, distribute, and produce, if the government could not identify or prove that the child depicted in the pornography was an actual child.

    CPPA supporters argue that both real and computer generated images of child pornography are used in the commission of child sexual molestation and are equally inciting to pedophiles and seductive to child victims.

    Since its enactment in 1996, CPPA has been challenged in federal court by the pornography industry and the ACLU. The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 30, 2001 to decide whether the Act is constitutional. More on CPPA.

  • Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA)
    CDA was the first legislative effort to protect children from pornography on the Internet. Although the United States Supreme Court struck the indecency provisions of the CDA in ACLU v. Reno, the obscenity amendments survived - an important victory for the protection of children and families online.

  • Legal organizations who fight for the protection of children from the dangers of pornography and sexual predators:

    • The National Law Center for Children and Families is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is focused on the protection of children and families from the harmful effect of illegal pornography by assisting in law enforcement and law improvement.

    • The American Center for Law and Justice is a not-for-profit public interest law firm and educational organization dedicated to the promotion of pro-liberty, pro-life and pro-family causes.

© 2001 by Donna Rice Hughes. Request permission if you wish to reprint or post.