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The Child Online Protection Act

In October of 1998, the federal government enacted the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). In some ways, COPA can be described as the “sequel” to CDA. COPA provides criminal penalties for any commercial distribution of information harmful to minors. The law was challenged almost immediately, and in February 1999, the plaintiffs obtained an injunction that prevented the government from enforcing COPA. Eventually, COPA was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on the grounds that each individual who tries to disseminate speech over the Internet would have to conform that speech to the most restrictive and conservative state’s standard of what constitutes material harmful to minors.

Inside The Child Online Protection Act