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FEPP Archives - Issues - Internet


White Paper To The National Research Council: Identifying What Is Harmful or Inappropriate for Minors
(March 5, 2001) - Have adverse effects from pornography been scientifically identified? Or is the issue essentially one of morality and socialization of youth? This White Paper, submitted to the National Research Council's Committee on "Tools and Strategies for Protecting Kids from Pornography and Their Applicability to Other Inappropriate Internet Content," points out that there are non-censorial approaches to concerns about kids' access to pornography - such as media literacy and comprehensive sexuality education. On May 2, 2002, the NRC released a 402-page report that largely agreed with FEPP's White Paper. Click here for a summary.

Supreme Court Brief In "COPA" Case
(September 2001) - Four sexuality scholars' organizations, along with the National Coalition Against Censorship, filed a brief with the Supreme Court explaining that there is no body of scientific evidence establishing that minors are harmed by reading or viewing sexual material. Hence, the "Child Online Protection Act," which criminalizes "harmful to minors" expression online, is not justified by any compelling governmental interest. In May 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that using the vague notion of "community standards" as part of the definition of what is "harmful to minors" is not in itself unconstitutional, and sent the case back to the lower courts for further consideration. (See Supreme Court Punts.)

Book Banning in the 21st Century: What's at Stake in the CIPA Case
(March 20, 2002; updated May 31, 2002, June 23, 2003) - The "Children's Internet Protection Act" - or CIPA - mandates that all public schools and libraries using federal funds for Internet use or connections must install a filtering system. Given the well-documented fact that all Internet filters mistakenly block thousands of sites that don't even have sexual content, CIPA poses a major threat to intellectual freedom, and indeed, to the very function of libraries.

Commentary: Our Children's Hearts, Minds, and Libidos:
What's at Stake in the COPA Case

(April 18, 2002) - and the Kama Sutra screen saver were just a few of the sites threatened with censorship as the Supreme Court prepared to rule in Ashcroft vs. ACLU.

National Research Council Adopts FEPP’s Approach to Internet and Youth
(May 2, 2002) - The NRC released a 402-page report that largely agreed with a white paper that FEPP submitted to the Council on three crucial issues: Internet filters, media literacy, and "harm to minors" from sexually explicit content.

CIPA Bites the Dust
(May 31, 2002) - A federal court ruled that requiring Internet filters in public libraries violates the First Amendment. See Ignoring the Irrationality of Internet Filters for commentary on the Supreme Court's reversal of this decision.

Comments Submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA): Internet Protection Measures and Safety Policies
(August 26, 2002) - FEPP's White Paper to the NTIA, outlining the serious educational problems that are inherent in Internet filtering technology, and suggesting more effective ways of addressing concerns about minors' access to the wide variety of content on the World Wide Web. The agency's report, released in August 2003, recognized the limits of filtering technology as a response to concerns about minors' Web surfing, but it also read like a sales pitch for filter manufacturers. See Government Report a Sales Pitch for Internet Filters.


Friend of the Court Brief in Supreme Court Internet Filtering Case by Organizations Concerned About the Digital Divide
(February 10, 2003) - FEPP filed a brief on behalf of Partnership For Progress on the Digital Divide, Harlem Live, and other organizations arguing that the "Children's Internet Protection Act," which forces libraries to install Internet filters on all computers, worsens the digital divide and thus relegates many Americans to second-class information citizenship.

Ignoring the Irrationality of Filters, the Supreme Court Upholds CIPA
(June 24, 2003) - The Supreme Court's decision allowing Congress to mandate Internet filters in public libraries as a condition of federal aid ignores or understates the massive censorious effects of filters. In many ways, they are more insidious than flat bans on "indecent" speech

New Government Report is a Sales Pitch for Internet Filters
(August 20, 2003) - The National Telecommunications and Information Administration's flawed August 2003 report naively accepts the claims of filter manufacturers.

Appeals Court Stops File-Sharing Subpoenas
(December 19, 2003) - The D.C. Circuit's decision bars the recording industry from forcing ISPs to reveal the names of subscribers for whom they simply transmit e-mail or provide Internet conections; but it may provide only temporary relief to those who share music online.


It Ain't Over Till It's Over
(April 8, 2004) - A new lawsuit spotlights thousands of copyright "orphans" that should be in the public domain.

What's Wrong With Censoring Youth?
(April 19, 2004) - Law professor Kevin Saunders' new book proposes radical restrictions on minors' First Amendment rights.

The Right Result; the Wrong Reason
(July 1, 2004) - In ruling that Internet filters are a "less restrictive alternative" to COPA, a criminal law restricting sexual material online, the Supreme Court endorsed a technology with the potential for far greater censorship.

Appeals Court Upholds File Sharing
(August 20, 2004) - Rejecting industry arguments, judges say that the technology has important legitimate uses.

Internet Filters Are Now a Fact of Life
(September 2, 2004) - But a new guide for libraries explains that some are far worse than others.

Structural Free Expression Issues
(September 10, 2004) - How the copyright system, media regulation, and government funding affect free speech.


The Free Expression Policy Project began in 2000 as a project of the National Coalition Against Censorship, to provide empirical research and policy development on tough censorship issues and seek free speech-friendly solutions to the concerns that drive censorship campaigns. In 2004-2007, it was part of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Past funders have included the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Open Society Institute, and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

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