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BYU business professor to testify in federal anti-pornography case

Brigham Young University professor Scott Smith, director of the Marriott School of Management's Institute of Marketing, will testify as an expert witness in the federal court case of ACLU v. Gonzalez, a case addressing the negative effects of Internet pornography.

Smith, an authority in the field of Internet marketing, was selected to prepare and present findings about the effects that the Child Online Protection Act will have on Internet business. If passed, the act will require age verification before Web site visitors can view pages that contain sexually explicit materials.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against Alberto Gonzalez, attorney general of the United States, suggesting that COPA is inconsistent with First Amendment rights. The question before the court is whether COPA burdens adults' access to some protected speech.

COPA, which mandates regulation of pornographic material, applies to commercial Web sites and does not apply to non-commercial sites that contain medical, educational or artistic material.

Under COPA, Web sites containing sexually explicit materials must require visitors to prove they are at least 17 years old. "This may be done by credit card or any another method that is definitive in nature," Smith said.

"COPA is a congressional legislation intended to protect children," Smith said. "The U.S. Courts are addressing the issue of whether or not COPA is an appropriate way to protect children while not unduly burdening adults' rights to access a form of protected speech and thereby violating First Amendment rights."

The ACLU alleges that the COPA standards are too restrictive and less intrusive technology — like home PC content screening software — would be more effective in blocking sites that contain sexually oriented material.

"In this case, the ACLU represents businesses for which COPA does not appear to apply," Smith said. "By bringing forward non-pornographic businesses with artistic or health-related content, the ACLU hopes to bring down COPA altogether."

Smith was selected for his experience in online marketing and research of Internet shoppers. He has been researching the case for several months in preparation for testimony.

Writer: Derek Westra

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