Pennsylvania and Pornography

93 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2005

See all articles by John B. Spence

John B. Spence

The John Marshall Law School - Center for Information Technology & Privacy Law

Date Written: February 20, 2005


Pennsylvania recently attempted to hold ISPs criminally liable for their customers ability to access child pornography. The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office would create a list of websites that they believe to contain child pornography. They would then notify a handful of ISPs and demand that they block their users from being able to view the websites. If the ISPs failed to administer some form of block, they would be held liable under a criminal statute and subject to fines as well as jail time. The Pennsylvania statute suffers from a number of serious defects arising from technological limitations as well as Constitutional flaws. The District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania struck the law down as being unconstitutional under a number of possible theories, including: an unlawful restraint of the First Amendment and a violation of Federal powers under the Dormant Commerce Clause.

Keywords: Pappert, child pornography, technology, websites, Pennsylvania, internet, blocking

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Spence, John B., Pennsylvania and Pornography (February 20, 2005). Available at SSRN: or

John B. Spence (Contact Author)

The John Marshall Law School - Center for Information Technology & Privacy Law ( email )

Chicago, IL 60605
United States

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