Filters and the First Amendment

R. Polk Wagner

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 83, p. 755, February 1999

Internet content filters -- promising a technological solution to the uniquely social problem of widespread availability of adults-only content on the Internet -- appear to shift the debate over control of "cyberporn" from the legislative to the technical. Yet a growing number of commentators are expressing serious reservations about the free speech implications of filters. In this Article, I note that the ever-changing relationship between technology, network economics, and legal doctrine in the new economic and ideological marketplace of Cyberspace will fundamentally impact any constitutional analysis. I argue that the existing literature's analytic reliance on expansive concepts of state action is ill-founded: both vulnerable to technological and legislative manipulation and finding little doctrinal support. Instead, I outline an approach based on First Amendment theories of association, arguing that this "associative" approach -- supported by current precedent -- is the most promising among several alternatives for providing an adaptive and powerful constitutional framework for evaluating indirect government regulation of the Internet.

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Date posted: April 28, 1999  

Suggested Citation

Wagner, R. Polk, Filters and the First Amendment. Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 83, p. 755, February 1999. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=154908

Contact Information

R. Polk Wagner (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
267-433-4431 (Phone)
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