Professor Richard Peltz-Steele joined a comparative law panel in Poland to talk about legal approaches, constitutional impediments, and social policy implications when governments filter the Internet to shield children from pornography.
Peltz-Steele authored a research article in 2002 suggesting a First Amendment constitutional analysis for Internet filtering in public schools and libraries. But the following year, the U.S. Supreme Court took a much more permissive approach in United States v. American Library Association (ALA) (Oyez).
At the program in Poland, Peltz-Steele explained the development of the law in the 14 years since the ALA decision. The climate for filtering has grown more tolerant, he said, but direct and indirect government regulation of the Internet has grown accordingly. That combination points to another challenge to government power on intellectual freedom grounds in the years ahead, Peltz-Steele predicted.
The conference, "Comparative Approaches to Adult-Content Filtering Regulations," was organized at the law school of the Jagiellonian University (UJ) in Kraków by Professor Piotr Szwedo, who heads the American and French law programs. Also on the panel were development scientist Małgorzata Klein of the Warsaw School of Economics; attorney Mikołaj Sowiński of SK&S Legal in Warsaw; and Professor Adam Szafrański, who heads the German law program at Warsaw University. Also while in Kraków, Professor Peltz-Steele is teaching a course in American tort law to students in UJ's American Law Program, a joint project with the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.