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Judge Rejects Pennsylvania's Anti-Porn Law

A federal court rules that a law requiring internet service providers to shut access to child pornography web sites upon notification violates free speech.
( [email protected] ) Sep 15, 2004 09:40 PM EDT

A federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s Internet Child Pornography law, which gives the state authority to have internet service providers restrict access to Web sites distributing child pornography.

Judge Jan E. Dubois ruled that due to the current state of technology "the Act cannot be implemented without excessive blocking of innocent speech in violation of the First Amendment."

Groups opposing the anti-porn law, The Center for Democracy and Technology, The American Civil Liberties Union and a small Pennsylvania Internet carrier, filed a suit against the attorney general’s office. They argued that it wasn’t possible to isolate and block sites with offensive material without blocking others with non-offensive material.

In addition to violating free speech, the law violated interstate commerce rules, the court ruled.

"We're disappointed with the court's ruling," said Sean Connolly, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Jerry Pappert.

"This law was designed to block access to child pornography," he said. “We believe it has worked well in Pennsylvania."

The attorney general’s office is currently reviewing the ruling, according to Connolly, and might appeal.