"SEX." The most commonly searched word on the Internet. "SEX." A word that has sparked a controversy and perpetuated a climate of uncertainty, risk, and lucrative rewards in the ever-changing world of the Internet.
As the Supreme Court gears up for another session, it has the daunting task of finding a middle ground between freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution, and what Representative Steve Largent, R-Okla., recently referred to as "illegal pornography" on the Internet.
For the last several years, Congress has had the thorny task of trying to come up with an anti-cyberporn law that can withstand constitutional muster. Although prosecutions of individual websites featuring extreme material are possible under the existing obscenity laws, attorney Frederick Lane indicated, the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the much lauded Communications Decency Act, coupled with the federal court's strike down of the Child Online Protection Act make it extremely unlikely that anything can be achieved legislatively.
Moreover, with the economy teetering on the edge of recession and the number of failed dot.com businesses, it seems as if internet pornography may be the only ones bringing in the bacon.
At an estimated $1 billion dollars a year, the adult entertainment industry continues to see rapid growth. New infrared video cameras allowing users to see through people's clothes and full body suits allowing users to actually interact with computer images are flying off the shelves like hotcakes. And with publicly traded companies now entering the market, a new legitimacy is being brought to one of the most profitable e-commerce sectors in the world.
Although Wall Street has not embraced the arrival of these new companies, the general consensus is that when the dust settles, they will be considered worthy vehicles of investment.
As for Congress, they can be expected to continue looking for legislation that skates the fine line between the freedom of speech and pornography. The Communications Decency Act was overturned by a vote of 9 to 0. We wish them good luck.