Looks like I missed CDT‘s pulling it off yesterday: Pennsylvania Child Porn Act Overturned
When Alan Davidson was here at MIT last term, he didn’t want to queer the pitch, but he felt optimistic, even though child porn is such a heinous issue that it usuallyh swamps all other concerns.
Today’s NYTimes headline illustrates the perils that the CDT and the ACLU faced when they took this case: Court Rules Against Pennsylvania Law That Curbs Child-Pornography Sites
The law – the only one of its kind in the United States and one that other states have watched closely as it was challenged in court – required Internet service providers doing business in Pennsylvania, upon notification by the attorney general’s office, to disable access to specified child pornography items “residing on, or accessible through, its service.” That proviso, opponents of the law argued, made Internet service providers liable for offending material that might reside on a private computer on the other side of the globe.
Fearing criminal penalties and the negative publicity associated with appearing to resist legal curbs on child pornography, many local and national Internet carriers had little choice but to comply with the Pennsylvania law.
“The blocking affected the global network,” said John Morris, a staff lawyer with the nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology. “So a customer in England might not be able to access a site in Spain because of a law in Pennsylvania.”
The Center for Democracy and Technology, along with the American Civil Liberties Union and a small Pennsylvania Internet carrier, filed a challenge to the law last year. They argued that, in addition to procedural problems with the law, it was technically impossible for providers to isolate a single offending site, and so entire swaths of innocent sites were being blacked out with each blocking order.
[…] For its part, the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office maintains that the technological shortcomings cited by the plaintiffs and Internet service providers, or I.S.P.’s, were simply untrue. “We argued in court that the technology does exist to block individual sites that contain child porn,” Mr. Connolly said, “and if other sites were blocked by the I.S.P., then the I.S.P. was doing something wrong.”
Findlaw’s Center for Democracy & Technology, et al. v. Pappert
Later: See also Z’s Internet Points of Control [via CoCo]