March 22, 2007

Statement from Donna Rice Hughes, President of Enough Is Enough®, on the Decision of a Federal Judge to Strike Down 1998 COPA Law Designed to Block Children from Viewing Online Pornography


"Today's decision by a Federal judge to strike down a 1998 U.S. law making it a crime for commercial website operators to allow children access to "harmful to minor" material is another victory for pornographers and a crushing defeat for children and parents. The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) of 1998 was intended to extend pornography laws to the Internet that currently apply to print media.

Unfortunately, the decision handed down by the Federal Court in Philadelphia came as no surprise. The Supreme and Third Circuit Courts have been shuffling appeals and ducking the issue of children's access to Internet pornography since COPA was first enacted in 1998.

Opponents of COPA have long argued that Internet filters alone are adequate to protect children from harmful pornographic material. This is simply not true. Children need COPA and filters, not COPA or filters.

Child exposure to Internet pornography is at an all-time high. A recent study released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children showed that one-third of Internet users ages 10-17 were exposed to unwanted sexual material. Children often imitate what they've seen, read, or heard, and studies suggest that exposure to pornography can prompt kids to act out sexually against younger, smaller, and more vulnerable children.

We are seeing more and more cases of children becoming addicted to pornography, and as a member of the 1998 COPA commission, I can attest that COPA was passed by a bipartisan Congress to reduce these very threats.

Parents are already overwhelmed by the burden of being 'the first line of defense' in protecting their children from online dangers, and parents should not have to fight this battle alone. Internet pornographers must also accept some social responsibility.

Enough Is Enough® strongly supports a shared responsibility between the Internet industry, law enforcement, and the public. Government has a compelling interest to protect our children. Sadly, pornographers will not act responsibility unless required by law."