The following statement can be attributed to TechFreedom President Berin Szoka regarding the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, striking down a California law requiring age verification and parental consent for the purchase of “violent” videogames by minors:
The Supreme Court has affirmed that the First Amendment applies equally to all media, including videogames and other interactive media. This ensures that free speech will continue to be protected even as technology evolves in ways scarcely imaginable today.
The Court correctly rejected California’s attempt to justify governmental paternalism as a supplement for parental responsibility. The existing content rating system and parental controls in videogame consoles already empower parents to make decisions about which games are appropriate for their children and their values. As in the Sorrell decision handed down last week, the Court has rejected what amounts to an opt-in mandate–this time, in favor of letting parents “opt-out” of letting their kids play certain games or rating levels rather than requiring that they “opt-in” to each purchase. This is the recurring debate about media consumption. And once again, speech regulation must yield to the less restrictive alternatives of empowerment and education.
Szoka is available for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org . Szoka co-authored an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court in this case ( press release ), along with former Progress & Freedom Foundation colleague Adam Thierer and Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorneys Lee Tien and Cindy Cohn.