By Paul Ruschmann
Examines the government's expanding makes an attempt to regulate the airwaves to take care of a typical of decency.
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Additional resources for The FCC and Regulating Indecency (Point Counterpoint)
S. Sup. Point2 12/15/04 3:02 PM Page 57 The Broadcast Indecency Rule Should Apply to All Media 57 sidestepped the issue of whether COPA was constitutional. Instead, a fivemember majority sent the case back to the District Court, with directions to hold a trial focusing on whether filtering was an effective alternative to legislation. That decision left open the possibility that COPA might be held constitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion. He suggested that filtering technology might be more effective than COPA for a number of reasons.
One is to recognize that the indecency rule is flawed and do away with it. The other is to conclude that society’s interest in protecting young people is so strong that the rule should be extended to other media. The latter approach not only raises serious constitutional questions but could create practical problems as well. CntrPnt2 12/15/04 3:04 PM Page 63 Indecency Standards Should Be Abolished for All Media the Internet, would have a chilling effect on constitutionally protected speech. To begin with, laws such as COPA impose penalties after the fact and thus force a Website operator to predict whether a jury will find his content “harmful to minors” and whether he took steps to keep young people from seeing it.
Justice Stephen Breyer, who voted to uphold the law, argued, “By finding ‘adequate alternatives’ where there are none, the Court reduces Congress’ protective power to the vanishing point. ” 43 • Is it fair that courts require the government to show that there are no alternatives to indecency laws? Many also believe that courts exaggerate the technological burdens of keeping pornography away from young people. A federal appeals court judge, who voted to uphold a Virginia law extending pornography restrictions to the Internet, argued: In the world of Web-based commercial pornography, “electronic screens” requiring credit card or age verification devices are commonplace.