U.S. District Judge Lowell Reed struck down a 1998 U.S. law that makes it a crime for operators of Internet sites to let anyone under 17 have access to sexual material, rebuffing the government’s argument that software filters are ineffective and upholding earlier rulings that the law infringed on free-speech rights. The testimony of software expert witnesses were key to the decision.
The judge agreed with the expert witnesses that filtering software was generally effective. He found that there are many products that allow parents to block sexually explicit material. Furthermore, the products were widely available and often offered free by service providers. He noted that even the government’s own expert witness concluded that software filters are effective, the vast majority blocking at least 95 percent of sexually explicit Web pages.