October 20, 2000

Attorney who suggested creation of COPA Commission gives high marks to some of its key recommendations


NEW YORK (20 October 2000) – The attorney who recommended the creation of a commission to study ways of protecting children from accessing harmful sexual material on the Internet, strongly praised some of the key recommendations in the COPA Commission’s final report.

Mr. Paul J. McGeady, General Counsel of Morality in Media, was particularly gratified by these recommendations:

  • Increased enforcement of Federal and State obscenity laws, funded at a level “of sufficient magnitude to deter effectively illegal activity on the Internet”
  • More Federal money to combat international Internet obscenity.
  • List of Web addresses that have been found to contain child porn, or “where convictions have been obtained involving obscene material,” should be published by State and Federal law enforcement.

Commission member J. Robert Flores said, “The Commission Report…identifies a number of technologies that may in fact satisfy the affirmative defense requirements of the statute. However, it is disappointing to me that the Commission did not have the resources to make further independent inquiries into possible affirmative defenses to the statute.”

The Commission on Online Child Protection was created as part of the federal Child Online Protection Act (COPA) of 1998. Its mandate was to “conduct a study to identify technological or other methods that will help reduce access by minors to material that is harmful to minors.” The Commission issued its 95-page report today (20 October 2000).

Mr. McGeady had called for the creation of the commission when the COPA was being drafted. Its principal sponsor, Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio), incorporated Mr. McGeady’s recommendation into the draft.

In earlier comments to the COPA commission (21 August 2000), Mr. McGeady said that laws that rely on requiring filters by parents, school officials or libraries are “a weak, ineffective answer to the overall problem of children’s access” to harmful material.

Instead, McGeady’s first suggestion was to recommend “vigorous enforcement of the federal laws against Internet obscenity,” pointing out that two sections of the U.S. Code (18 USC 1462 and 1465) forbid transportation or distribution of obscenity by “an interactive computer service.”

McGeady noted that the current Justice Department has “adamantly refused to enforce the existing laws against Internet obscenity,” and members of Congress have noted this refusal. U.S. Rep. Steve Largent (R-Okla.) has called Internet pornography “a national scourge which the Justice Department allows to proliferate in our homes, schools and public libraries due to its lack of prosecution of federal obscenity law.”

Author: Paul J McGeady   10/20/2000

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