Tim Specht

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This comment examines the current state of the law in the area of internet regulation restricting children's access to adult material. This area of law is very new, with the majority of case precedent developed over just the last five or six years. Although the term "Internet" applies to various aspects of cyberspace including the World Wide Web, e-mail, chat rooms, listservs, newsgroups, FTP sites, and other interactive environments, this essay will focus mainly on the area of the World Wide Web. Part I of this comment provides a brief overview of the U.S. Supreme Court precedent relating to freedom of speech and various forms of media. Part II gives a description of the history, terminology, and characteristics of the World Wide Web. Part III gives a brief analysis of the CDA and the Reno I case. Part IV briefly discusses COPA and the Reno II and III cases. Part V analyzes four other early landmark cases involving government regulation of adult material on the Web. It also predicts the resolution in court of a COPA-like law under reliable geographic and age verification technology, based on the current state of law derived from these four cases and the Reno decisions. It also discusses other possible future trends in this area of law through a critique of three other law review articles on this topic. Part VI will examine some alternatives to criminal statutes that may limit children's access to adult websites. Part VII concludes that future criminal laws like COPA will most likely not withstand First Amendment scrutiny, and that future attempts at governmental regulation of adult websites via criminal statutes will probably prove equally unsuccessful, at least until technology advances enough to allow for reasonable precision in restricting children's access while not stifling adults' freedom of speech on the Web.

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College of Law






Northern Illinois University Law Review

Suggested Citation

Tim Specht, Comment, Untangling the World Wide Web: Restricting Children's Access to Adult Materials While Preserving the Freedoms of Adults, 21 N. Ill. U. L. Rev. 411 (2001).

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