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:

[NAS Report] [CIPA Report Exec Sum]

Online Safety Tools

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
Reporting of Child Porn by ISPs
  • DOJ
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • 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
  • 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
  • DOJ
  • Law Enforcement
Sale of Goods, Contraband
  • DOJ
  • DEA
  • FDA
  • FTC
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
  • 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
  • FTC
  • FCC

Privacy, Child (social networks, ID Theft)

  • FTC
  • DOJ
Internet Access
  • FCC
  • NTIA
  • DOJ
  • FCC
  • NAS
  • GAO
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
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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