The U.S. Constitution and state and federal statutes and regulations play important roles in addressing the various legal issues that arise when adults try to protect children from what is considered inappropriate sexually explicit material or experiences on the Internet.

What’s Regulated?

It’s difficult to wrap a legal arm around the concept of “pornography” because the term has no specific meaning either in everyday conversation or in the eyes of the law. What’s pornographic for you might not be pornographic for someone else, and vice versa. Moreover, certain sexually explicit materials are regarded as free speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution. There are, however, three categories of sexually explicit material that the U.S. government can regulate:

  • Child pornography, which involves pictures of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. This includes actual or simulated sexual intercourse, bestiality, masturbation, sadistic or masochistic abuse, and the lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a child.
  • Obscenity, which involves work that, taken as a whole and judged by the current standards of a community, appeals to an unhealthy interest in sex, depicts sexual conduct in a patently offensive way, and lacks any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
  • Obscenity with respect to minors, which refers to materials that qualify as obscene when children are the audience.

Federal and state laws, including laws that apply to the Internet, are there to deal with child pornography and obscenity by forbidding the production, distribution, and, in the case of child pornography, possession of these materials. Anything considered obscene with respect to minors is regulated for children but not for adults.

See also…

Criminal Law Matters

Internet Law – Forum