Federal Internet Law & Policy
An Educational Project

Children Online

Dont be a FOOL; The Law is Not DIY
- 1st Amendment
- Internet Freedom
- Children, Protection
- - COPA
- - CIPA
- - CPPA
- - Child Porn
- - Child Porn, Reporting
- - Protect Act
- - V Chip
- - Deceptive Content
- - Sex Offenders
- - Privacy
- Filters
- - Notification
- SPAM Labels
- Taxes
- Reports
- Obscenity
- Annoy
- Good Samaritan Defense
- Notes

"An analogy is the relationship between swimming pools and children. Swimming pools can be dangerous for children. To protect them, one can install locks, put up fences, and deploy pool alarms. All of these measures are helpful, but by far the most important thing that one can do for one’s children is to teach them to swim." National Academies of Science, 2002

A great deal of content regulation is done with the governmental interest of protecting children. These laws seek both to protect children from harmful content, and, in the case of child pornography laws, protect children from being the subject of offensive content. Also included here are laws that protect children's privacy, and support Internet access for children at schools and libraries.

These content laws demonstrate a tension between the value of the Internet; and problematic content. [NAS 1] [COPA Exec Sum] [CIPA Report Exec Sum, Sec. II.A.] There is also a tension between a strong government interest of protecting children and the First Amendment. [COPA II]

Reports have identified the way in which content over the Internet causes risks for children:

  • Harder for parents to supervise use
  • Easier access to offensive content
  • Access to content that is more extreme than content available in other forms
  • Accidental access to objectionable content (ex/ content can be pushed at the individual through pop-ups, spam, mouse-trapping)
  • Interaction with strangers / sexual predators
  • [NAS Report] [CIPA Report Exec Sum]

    Online Safety Tools

  • Software Solutions
  • Intro
  • Embedded in some operating systems: Windows Vista, Window 7, Mac X
  • Provided by network service providers
  • Bundled in off-the-shelf safety softwate
  • Filters
  • Whitelists: providing access to appropriate content [CIPA I.A.]
  • See dot KIDS dot US [COPA II.E.]
  • Blacklists: filtering or blocking access to inappropriate content [NAS 10] [COPA II.B.3] [CIPA I.A.]
  • See dot XXX [COPA II.E.]
  • Dynamic Filters
  • See Deep Packet Inspection (network neutrality)
  • But see Electronic Communications Privacy Act (wiretapping)
  • Monitor, Reports, Time Control [NAS 11] [COPA II.F.15.] [CIPA I.A.]
  • Time Control: Control amount of time online per day and when online
  • Monitors can report activity of individual online
  • Reports give parent information on what has been done, when sites have been accessed, any attempts to tamper with software
  • GetNetWise, Tools that Monitor Computer Activity
  • Content
  • Restricting the supply of inappropriate content including creating incentives for the mature content industry to restrict access to adults [NAS 11]
  • Labels and Tags [COPA II.C] (can be used with both white and black lists)
  • Created by content creator or owner
  • Watermarks, Metatags, Embedded information
  • Semantic Information or/and reference numbers
  • Flags & AUPs: Community flags violations of community standards, host investigates and enforces as appropriate
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • MySpace
  • FaceBook
  • Vimeo
  • Google Webpage Removal Request Tool
  • Greenspace (Whitespace or Safezone)
  • dot kids dot us
  • Teen Second Life
  • SafeSearch
  • Google
  • AOL
  • Flickr: Help: Content Filters: What is Safesearch
  • Site Settings
  • iTunes: Using Parental Controls
  • Education [NAS 9] [COPA II.A.2]
  • Kids, Parents, schools, Libraries, Social Welfare orgs
  • Education teachers - not just online safety, but how to take advantage of and incorporate online resources into curriculum [CIPA Study Sec. IV.A]
  • Materials produced by NGOs
  • Materials made available at network service provider sites
  • Reviews of online content and applications
  • Common Sense Media, Website Reviews Kids Websites,
  • Best practices
  • Parental, including best practice guidelines for parents and technology
  • Education of children [CIPA Study Sec. IV.A]
  • Supervision of children [CIPA Study Sec. IV.A] [NAS 9]
  • Teaching online literacy
  • Use of onlie monitors and reports
  • Placement of computer in household / out in open [CIPA Study Sec. IV.A]
  • Review of social networking accounts
  • Family AUP
  • Model Family AUPs Available from NGOs
  • Schools: Internet Safety Policies (see CIPA)
  • Acceptable Use Policies
  • Posted - and splash page at log in that must be agreed to [CIPA Study Sec. IV.A.]
  • Placement of computer in household / out in open [CIPA Study Sec. IV.A]
  • Industry and industry initiatives
  • Age Verification [COPA II.D.] [CIPA I.A.]

  • Chart from Executive Summary of COPA Commission Report (2000)

    "Technologies and methods identified in the lower right quadrant are most effective and accessible while imposing fewer costs and adverse impacts. Those identified in the upper left quadrant are relatively ineffective and create the most adverse effects. After consideration of the information gathered through hearings and comments filed by a wide range of parties, the Commission concludes that no single technology or method will effectively protect children from harmful material online. Rather, the Commission determined that a combination of public education, consumer empowerment technologies and methods, increased enforcement of existing laws, and industry action are needed to address this concern. "

    Table of What Federal Agencies Have Responsibility over What Child Safety Issues

    Issue Agency Law
    Child Pornography
  • DOJ
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
  • Law Enforcement
  • FCC
  • PROTECT Act of 2003
  • Child Pornography Prevention Act (criminalized virtual child pornography) Unconstitutional
  • 18 U.S.C. §§ 1460-1466 (obscenity)
  • FCC
  • Broadband Data Improvement Act Title II: Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act Sec. 221 amended FCC enforcement authority in order to give the FCC authority to prosecute the transportation, distribution or possession of child pornography .
  • 47 U.S.C. § 223(d) ( interactive computer service )
  • Reporting of Child Porn by ISPs
  • DOJ
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008 Title 18
  • Child Protection and Sexual Predator Punishment Act of 1998 Title 42
  • Obscenity
  • DOJ
  • FCC
  • 18 U.S.C. §§ 1460-1466
  • 47 U.S.C. § 223(d) ( interactive computer service )
  • Other Offensive Content (indecency, content harmful to minors)
  • FCC
  • DOJ
  • NTIA
  • FCC
  • Communications Decency Act (criminalized online offensive content) Unconstitutional
  • Children's Online Protection Act (criminalized online offensive content on commercial websites) Unconstitutional
  • Children's Internet Protection Act (condition on erate funding, requiring online safety policies by schools and libraries - note: legislation specifically limits FCC authority in CIPA process and reserves that authority to local authorities)
  • 47 USC § 230(c) Liability protection for ISPs which take steps to protect children from offensive content
  • DOJ
  • PROTECT Act of 2003 : Truth in Domain Names Act of 2003 (illegal to use domain names to trick people into seeing obscenity or children into seeing content harmful to minors. )
  • Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 use of embedded words or digital images in order to deceive people into viewing obscenity or children into viewing material harmful to minors
  • NTIA
  • Dot Kids Implementation and Efficiency Act of 2002 creating a separate domain space fo kid friendly webpages (devoid of material harmful to minors)
  • Spam
  • FTC
  • FCC
  • Can Spam Act
  • Child Exploitation


  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

    Sex Offenders DOJ
  • KIDS Act of 2008 (A bill to require convicted sex offenders to register online identifiers, and for other purposes.) Title 42
  • Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006
  • Sec. 119: National Sex Offender Registry
  • Sec. 120: Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website
  • Cyberbullying
  • DOJ
  • Law Enforcement
    Sale of Goods, Contraband
  • DOJ
  • DEA
  • FDA
  • FTC
  • Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006
  • Sec. 201: Internet Sale Date Rape Drug illegal 21 USC § 841(g)
  • FTC
  • Fraud
  • Education, Online Safety
  • FTC
  • OnGuard Online
  • FCC
  • States
  • DOJ
  • States AG
  • DOJ
  • DHS
  • IRS
  • USPS
  • SEC
  • NCIS
  • US Army
  • FCIC
  • CFTC
  • FBI
  • FTC: Broadband Data Improvement Act Title II: Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act Sec. 212 calls on the FTC to engage in a public awareness campaign "to promote the safe use of the Internet by children."
  • FCC: Broadband Data Improvement Act Title II: Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act Sec. 215 imposes a new requirement on school and libraries that receive subsidies from the FCC's erate program; they must teach Internet safety as a part of their Internet Safety Program .
  • States
  • The State of Virginia requires Internet Safety educational programs in schools.
  • DOJ: Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 Sec. 629: Children's Safety Online Awareness Campaigns; Sec. 630: Grants for Online Child Safety Program
  • DOJ Pub.Law. 108-447 "Congressional request to the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to compile information on federally-funded internet safety programs for youth and to describe each program's purpose and scope"
  • Law Enforcement, Investigation Forensics
  • DOJ
  • - Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • - Child Protection Division
  • - -Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • FBI
  • Internet Crime Complaint Center
  • PROTECT Our Children Act of 2008 : Allocated additional funds for law enforcement
  • Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 Sec. 704: Additional Prosecutors for Offenses Relating to the Sexual Explotation of Children; Sec. 705: Additional Computer-Related Resources ( forensics ); Sec. 706: Additional ICAC Task Forces
  • Advertising
  • FTC
  • FCC
  • FCC Limits to placing web addresses in advertising aimed at kids during television broadcasts
  • Privacy, Child (social networks, ID Theft)

  • FTC
  • DOJ
  • FTC
  • Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
  • Privacy statements enforcement
  • DOJ
  • Identity Theft
  • Internet Access
  • FCC
  • ERate
  • Reports
  • NTIA
  • DOJ
  • FCC
  • NAS
  • GAO
  • Child Safe Viewing Act :: FCC Report to Congress on Parent Control Technology, Due 270 days after December 2, 2008.
  • Broadband Data Improvement Act . Title II of Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, Sec. 213 :: FTC Report on Sec. 103 Activities :: Annual (Editor's note: the reference is confusing and may be to the FTC's Sec. 212 obligation to engage in an Internet Safety public awareness campaign)
  • Online Safety and Technology Working Group Broadband Data Improvement Act . Title II of Protecting Children in the 21st Century Act, Sec. 214 :: Report to Congress on online industry's efforts to promote online safety :: Pending.
  • PROTECT ACT of 2008
  • National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, PROTECT Act of 2008 Title I :: Report on strategy :: Annual
  • National Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) Program, PROTECT Act of 2008 Title I :: Report on the progress of the ICAC :: Pending
  • PROTECT Act of 2008 Title II Report :: DOJ report on its forensic capabilities :: Annual
  • PROTECT Act of 2008 Title IV Report :: "whether a subject of an online child exploitation investigation poses a high risk of harm to children." :: Pending
  • PROTECT Act of 2008 Title V Report :: GAO Report to Congress on the Cybertipline NCMEC within 2 years :: Pending
  • CIPA Report :: CIPA called on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce to conduct a study "to evaluate whether currently available Internet blocking or filtering technology measures adequately address the needs of educational institutions and to evaluate the effectiveness of children's Internet safety policies." :: Completed 2002
  • COPA Commission Report :: for the purpose of conducting a study "regarding methods to help reduce access by minors to material that is harmful to minors on the Internet." :: Completed 2000
  • National Academies Report :: as a part of the Protection of Children From Sexual Predators Act, Congress requested that the National Academies of Sciences produce a report "to conduct a study of computer-based technologies and other approaches to the problem of the availability of pornographic material to children on the Internet." :: Completed 2002
  • Educational (Academic) Materials
  • Department of Education: Federal Resources for Educational Excellence
  • States
  • Library of Congress
  • DHS

    Child Protection Laws Chronologically:

    It's Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens
    dana boyd :: Culture of Fear

    Webstock '12: danah boyd
    Culture of Fear + Attention Economy = ?!?!
    from Webstock on Vimeo.

    Google Talk DC: Born Digital with John Palfrey
    Online Child Safety, Privacy, and Free Speech:
    An Overview of Challenges in Congress & the States July 2009

    Federal Agencies


    Private Sector Activity :: NGOs

    Private Sector Activity :: Industry





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