COPA – referred to as the Child Online Protection Act – was a law in the United States passed in 1998 to protect minors from gaining access to harmful and objectionable material while browsing the internet.
This law has been overturned, as it directly violates the right to free speech.
This law was created because any material with nudity or sexual content was deemed harmful and objectionable, and such material must be kept away from minors.
The law clearly stated that anyone who was distributing or selling such content on the web needed to prevent minors from accessing their site.
Under the COPA law, it would have been necessary for any website distributing or selling pornographic or objectionable content to have the visitors enter some form of personal identification to prove that they were not minors.
The required information could have been an identification number previously distributed, a credit card number, or some access code.
The important thing that the website owners and webmaster needed to remember was that any such information collected as a means of identification was to be considered private and could not be used by the website in any way other than the stated purpose.
However, there were a few exceptions in the type of content that was allowed. The anatomy of the human body was one such expectation. When displayed for educational purposes, body parts were not considered pornographic and were permitted.
According to COPA, it was the responsibility of the parents to keep their children away from such content. But due to the wide availability of the internet, parents could not control the information that their children would have access to. Because of this, the government decided to develop some regulations.
This law is no more enforced, and users are advised to read the above article for educational and information purposes only.