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Date: 1998-11-20

Etappensieg gegen US-Zensurgesetz

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q/depesche 98.11.20/1
updating 98.10.17/1

Etappensieg gegen US-Zensurgesetz

Dasselbe Gericht in Philadelphia, das schon im Jahre 1996
das Vorläufergesetz Communications Decency Amendment
(CDA) verworfen hatte, hat nun den Nachfolge-
Schamhaarparagraphen COPA (Child Online Protection Act)
vorerst einmal für zehn Tage ausser Kraft gesetzt.

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PHILADELPHIA - In the first constitutional test of a new
Internet censorship law, a federal judge today issued a
temporary restraining order (TRO) against enforcement of the
Child Online Protection Act (COPA). The ruling came in a
legal challenge to the statute filed by EPIC, the American
Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation
on behalf of a broad coalition of Web publishers and users.
COPA, enacted in the final days of the 105th Congress as
part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, imposes criminal
penalties against any "commercial" website that makes
material that is "harmful to minors" available to anyone under
17 years of age. Unless enjoined, the statute would have
gone into effect at 12:01 a.m. on November 20.

At the end of an all-day court hearing, U.S. District Judge
Lowell A. Reed, Jr. enjoined Attorney General Janet Reno
and the Justice Department from "enforcing or prosecuting"
any conduct under COPA for at least ten days, until the
issues in the lawsuit can be further litigated. Over the
objections of the government, Judge Reed extended the
coverage of the TRO to anyone posting material on the World
Wide Web, not just the named plaintiffs. The TRO also
precludes retroactive enforcement of COPA, should the law
eventually be upheld, for material posted while the restraining
order is in effect.

The court ruling is the latest setback for Internet censorship
proponents. In June 1996, the same federal court in
Philadelphia struck down the Communications Decency Act
(CDA), a decision unanimously upheld last year by the U.S.
Supreme Court. In enacting COPA, Congressional
supporters claimed that the new law corrected the
constitutional defects of the CDA. Several federal courts
have also found state laws seeking to regulate online content

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published on: 1998-11-20
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