Law Review: Internet Child Protection Registry Acts: Protecting Children, Parents and . . . Pornographers? Allowing States to Balance the First Amendment with Parents’ Rights to Privacy and Sovereignty in the Home
Internet Child Protection Registry Acts: Protecting Children, Parents and . . . Pornographers? Allowing States to Balance the First Amendment with Parents’ Rights to Privacy and Sovereignty in the Home
Samuel D. Castor, 59 Cath. U. L. Rev. 231 (2009)
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This Comment evaluates states’ role in the tug-of-war between governments attempting to help parents protect children from unwanted, and potentially harmful, electronic communications and the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from abridging a person’s freedom of speech. First, this Comment outlines the law governing regulation of indecent and obscene speech in general and as it applies to the Internet and electronic communication in particular. It analyzes the long-standing rationales for protecting children from indecent and obscene communications, and then argues that the CAN-SPAM Act and Utah’s and Michigan’s CPR Acts demonstrate that state-crafted legislation is crucial in striking the delicate balance between the First Amendment rights of those who send the electronic communications containing adult content and the rights of parents in raising their children–even if it means shielding minors from some types of speech. In conclusion, this Comment contends that as electronic communication continues to proliferate, any federal attempt to help parents prevent unwanted electronic material from entering their homes should explicitly preserve states’ rights to tailor statutory shields that fit the particular needs and concerns of its citizens. Just as Utah’s and Michigan’s CPR Acts enhance the enforcement and effectiveness of the CAN-SPAM Act, states should be given the opportunity for their own experimentation.