FOSI Commemorates 10th Anniversary of COPA Commission Report

October 19, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC - The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) today recognizes the 10th anniversary of the COPA Commission Report, a landmark study that identified ways to help reduce access by minors to harmful material on the Internet. The Commission concluded that there is no one way to protect children online; a collaborative effort is needed from educators, consumers, industry and lawmakers to promote Internet safety for children.

Congress enacted the Child Online Protection Act in October 1998 and established the Commission on Child Online Protection (COPA Commission) to study methods to help prevent minors from accessing certain sexually explicit material, defined in the statute as harmful to minors. The Commission evaluated the accessibility, cost and effectiveness of protective technologies and methods, as well as their possible effects on privacy, First Amendment values and law enforcement. Ten years ago today, the COPA Commission presented its final report to Congress.

After examining a number of technologies and methods to protect children online, as well as information gathered from hearings and contributed comments, the Commission concluded that no single technology or method effectively protects children from harmful material online. Rather, the Commission determined that a combination of public education, consumer empowerment technologies and methods, increased enforcement of existing laws and industry action are needed to address this issue of online safety for children.

"Over the last ten years, we've seen a growing awareness from parents, teachers and communities about how to keep kids safe online," said Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI and a COPA Commission member. "The COPA Commission report led the way in identifying methods to keep kids safe online and highlighting the need for a collaborative effort among stakeholders to make the Internet a safer place for kids and their families."

"At a time when Internet access was becoming mainstream for most families, the COPA Commission shined a spotlight on the issues of online safety," said Don Telage, Chairman of the COPA Commission. "Now, other working groups, such as the Online Safety and Technology Working Group (OSTWG), have carried on the great work of the COPA Commission as they continue to make recommendations to promote online safety for children through education, labeling, and parental control technology."

FOSI's Fourth Annual Conference & Exhibition will feature a panel at 1:30pm on November 9 to further explore the consequences of the COPA report. The panel, called "From COPA to OSTWG: 10 years of online safety reports," will be moderated by Stephen Balkam. Panelists include:

  • Don Telage, OnRamp Wireless, Inc; Chairman of the Child Online Protection Act Commission
  • Herb Lin, National Academy of Sciences; Editor, Thornburgh Report
  • Torie Clarke, Comcast; PointSmart.ClickSafe Report
  • danah boyd, Social Media Researcher; Editor, Berkman Study
  • Hemanshu Nigam, SSP Blue; Co-Chair of the Online Safety Technology Working Group

About FOSI

The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) works to make the online world safer for kids and their families by identifying and promoting best practices, tools and methods that also respect free speech. FOSI's members include: AOL, AT&T, Blue Coat Systems, BT Retail, Comcast, Entertainment Software Association, Facebook, France Telecom, Google, GSM Association, Kingston Communications, Loopt, Microsoft, Motion Picture Association of America, MySpace, NCTA, Ning, Nominum, Optenet, RuleSpace, Sprint, StreamShield, Symantec, Time Warner Cable, Telefónica, TELMEX, T-Mobile, The Wireless Foundation, Verizon, Yahoo!. FOSI hosts an annual international conference to bring together Internet safety advocates from a variety of sectors, including global corporations, government, non-profits, academia and the media, to discuss the current pulse of online safety and emerging solutions that will enhance it. For more information, please visit